Blog: Shannon Bono


Shannon Bono, Frog at my door step, 2022

Blog Post: Shannon Bono

New Contemporaries 2021 artist Shannon Bono reflects on their time as recipient of NC's Studio Bursary with Elephant Lab


13 July 2022

I was fortunate enough to be awarded a month-long residency with New Contemporaries and Elephant Lab, which included £1000 worth of materials. During this time I planned on creating two new paintings for my current series, but, to challenge myself as a painter, I wanted to make one in exclusively oil paint and the other in acrylic. I usually work with both oil and acrylic paints together because I enjoy the fast drying process of acrylics and the forgiving nature of oil paints.

My paintings embody an afrofemcentrist consciousness, sharing muted narratives and projecting black women’s lived experiences. I am invested in producing layered, figurative, compositions embedded with symbols and scientific metaphors that centralise black womanhood as a source of knowledge and understanding. My current series is titled To Summers in Gambia, which documents the last 6 months of 2021. I discuss the positionality of black-womanhood, perspectives on love and loss, and stories of West African divination.

This residency was a great experience. The Elephant lab team were amazing to work with and I was able to share my practice and inspirations with a new audience. Here is what I created…

Love Shell, 2022, Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 cm

Love shell is based on the fantoo charm, which is used to win the love of a girl. I discovered this at a museum in Gambia when I was taken there by a friend who was fond of me. In the photographs I took of this charm you can see his reflection looking back at me.

Sisilaa, 2022, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 cm

Sisilaa is another charm that I discovered at the museum in Gambia. This charm is worn on the chest of wrestlers to protect them against the spells of their opponents.

Frog at my door step, 2022, Oil and acrylic on board, 40 x 30 cm

My friend’s mum is a hotel manager in Gambia. She is very beautiful, successful and a lot of people are envious of her. She was telling me and my family about juju that was put on her. One day when she was coming into work she saw a frog on her doorstep and the water she was drinking that day had turned green.