Art on the Underground present 5 more minutes, a new large-scale public commission at Brixton Underground station by London-based artist Joy Labinjo – launching 11 November 2021 and on view for one year. Drawing on her personal experiences of growing up in the UK with British-Nigerian heritage, Labinjo’s commission explores ideas of memory and belonging, and the significance of the hair salon as a centre of community in both the artist’s personal experience as well as in wider Black British female culture.
This work is the fifth in a series of commissions at Brixton station, following on from Helen Johnson, Denzil Forrester, Aliza Nisenbaum and Njideka Akunyili Crosby. The programme invites artists to respond to the diverse narratives of the local murals painted in the 1980s, the rapid development of the area and the wider social and political history of mural making.
For her new commission, 5 more minutes, Labinjo depicts the interior of an imagined hair salon, an amalgamation of the spaces that the artist has visited over her life. The scene represents how the salon might look on a Saturday morning, with women and children of different generations gathered and interacting together, including recognisable and nostalgic details from the salon’s interior. The composition of the painting, brought to life using a vivid palette of colours, originates from the Labinjo’s lived experience, using images from family albums, online and historical sources, as well as from memory. Hair salons are a central part of the Afro-Caribbean community in Brixton. They have endured significant changes to the local area and continue to play an essential role.
Labinjo’s commission is rooted in the fabric of Brixton’s vibrant and diverse communities. Throughout her life, Labinjo would travel to Brixton specifically to get her hair done and, for the artist, the area’s hair salons evoke a strong sense of identity and emotional connection, exemplifying the strength of Brixton’s local community. The artist portrays the intimacy of the space by showing the conversations and relationships between women, bringing this Black British female experience to the fore. By depicting the smells, sounds and textures of the salon, she evokes a sense of place, enabling viewers to imagine themselves there. At its core, the commission is a celebration of Black female culture.