Chris Ofili His Legacy To Stephen Lawrence

Chris Ofili

Turner Prize winner said to be ecstatic over life sentence after 18 Year Hiatus

“The injustice of Stephen Lawrence’s murder and the way that the police had dealt with it made such little sense to myself and to the public at large,” “I remember finishing the painting and feeling that there was something else in the room other than the physical painting, that it had a strong emotional presence and the statement of sadness was manifested in the painting.” — Chris Ofili

The Artist as reporter is still a relevant duty and No Woman No Cry is a tribute to the London teenager Stephen Lawrence,his mother,his family and friends. The Metropolitan police investigation into his racially motivated murder was mishandled, and a subsequent inquiry described the police force as institutionally racist. In each of the tears shed by the woman in the painting is a collaged image of Stephen Lawrence’s face, while the words ‘R.I.P. Stephen Lawrence’ are just discernible beneath the layers of paint. Despite these specific references, the artist also intended the painting to be read in more general terms, as a universal portrayal of melancholy and grief. After the collapse of a private prosecution brought by the Lawrence family, Justice has now been granted after an 18 year hiatus.

Gary Dobson and David Norris, the two men convicted of the racist murder of the black teenager, were found guilty by a jury at the Old Bailey, after a trial based on newly discovered forensic evidence. They will now be sentenced as juveniles as they were under 18 at the time of the attack, which happened at a bus stop in Eltham, South-East London in April 1993. Dobson, 36 and Norris, 35, have been detained for life which means only 14 and 15 years respectively. Hopefully the others involved will now come forward, do the right thing and pay for all of the suffering caused to the Lawrence family and the community at large.

No Woman No Cry,is one of the paintings which helped Ofili win the Turner prize. It is dedicated to Doreen Lawrence the  mother of Stephen a strong matriarchal figure who never gave up hope that justice would be done. Each of the tears falling from the eyes of the woman in the picture contains a tiny photograph of the murdered boy.

“Taking its title from a 1974 song by Bob Marley, Chris Ofili’s No Woman No Cry (1998) is a tribute to the Lawrence family. Ofili’s work became the starting point for a discussion about the way in which this event has become a focus for political activism, remembrance and, through Doreen Lawrence and the Stephen Lawrence Trust, ongoing change in society.”

The title seems literally to be similar to “Hush little baby, don’t you cry.” Or the timeless “Summertime” where the song is sung to a baby but everything sung is soothing and has nothing to do with reality. What else can you do BUT cry? No woman, No Cry, was originally a song by Jamaican singer Bob Marley, his songs are full of references to political turmoil, opression and poverty. In this song he’s consoling a woman who is crying over friends that have died and bad people who have prospered. He’s saying even though he doesn’t have much to eat, he’ll share what he has, and even though his feet are his only transportation, he’ll keep going because everything will turn out ok in the end.

Read More About Chris Ofili

See Google Macro Image of “No Woman No Cry” by Chris Ofili Here


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