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Just Because We’re Magic Doesn’t Mean We’re Not Real

In this talk we explore the significant contributions black creatives have made to British Culture.

As part of the Royal College of Arts’ Black History Month celebrations the SU hosted a screening and panel discussion in Battersea, an exhibition in White City and teamed up with the library to produce a display that rotates throughout the month, you can find our reading lists here, and watch lists here.

For 'Just Because We’re Magic Doesn’t Mean We’re Not Real' alumni Jerome. chaired a panel talk with Janette Parris, Ruka Johnson and Akil Scafe-Smith from RESOLVE. Each guest speaker presented their work discussed their aspirations, challenges they face in the industry, and shared what hopes they have for the future of themselves and other creatives like them. Before the talk began we also heard from teenagers who set up 'Essence By Faith'  - an all natural hair and beauty product which helps rejuvenate damaged hair and stimulates hair growth.

The title of the talk was taken from a speech by Jesse Williams at the 2016 BET Awards where he beautifully describes his experience of being an African American man, touching on elements of the struggle faced by black people globally. 


JEROME. is a fine artist and recent graduate from the MA Painting course . He uses several mediums to express the concept play, through which he addresses conversations on painting, otherness, and power. He is the chair of the artists council for a-n (the UK’s largest artist network) and has recently put on talks and exhibitions as he looks to expand on his writing ‘First Wave of the Mandem’, where he advocates black cultures influence in the production of a living language amongst the lower inner city classes.


JANETTE PARRIS is a multidisciplinary artist that uses drawing, animation, performance, video and film. Her works use humour to comment on the everyday realities of London living, featuring friendship, gentrification, cats, politics and more. Her multi-layered animations perfectly show case her ability to captivate viewers through the use of narrative, and she has previously spoken about the importance of sound to achieving this. Parris’ work has been exhibited all around the UK including Tate Britain, Art on the Underground, South London Gallery, Peckham Platform and more. A side from her own practice Parris is a visiting lecturer at several different British universities including University of the Arts London and the Royal College of Art and she also regularly travels around the country giving talks and lectures on her work. Click here for a video of Janette talking about


RESOLVE is an interdisciplinary design collective that combines architecture, engineering, technology and art to address social challenges.

Collaboration and co-production is a critical part of our ethos. For us, it is the first step towards realising more equitable visions of change and the ultimate attempt to bridge the gaps between a multitude of groups and communities, providing a platform for the production of new knowledge and ideas. An integral part of this is working with youth and under-represented groups in society and engaging them in the design process.

For us, ‘design’ encompasses both physical and systemic intervention. We look at innovative ways of working with communities as ‘stakeholders’ in the short and long-term management of projects. In this way, design carries more than aesthetic value; it is also a mechanism for socio-economic change.


RUKA JOHNSON is a Costume Designer & Stylist and has worked on over 50 different short films, television series' and featured movies. Her amazing body of work includes working with established institutions such as Channel 4, Unicef, Adidas and the British Film Institute, as well as working with other rising talents like Cecile Emeke, Michael Ward (Jamie from TopBoy) and musician Blood Orange.

She continues to be connected to a string of exciting stars of the future now, and similar to our other panelists, a lot of the feature films she works on comment on the realities of British culture but more specifically London living. Her recent work includes the new film Rocks, which premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and we are very excited to hear about her experiences in the world of fashion.