The Celebration Campaign: Olivia Twist

Photos by K Marie Soul


My African name is Abena.

My favourite month is November because it’s the month of my birthday. My favourite day is Friday as it’s my day off from uni, so I get a chance to chill. Art and design was my favourite subject at university and I aspire to be an illustrator.

I like to see other people happy; that makes me smile. My brothers also make me happy. Also, feeling accomplished- you know that feeling you have when you’ve achieved something? That makes me smile. Having my work exhibited and spending time with friends makes me smile. Since I graduated, I’ve been doing one a month- my latest one happened a few months ago.

Spending time with myself, prayer, church, drawing; I like being by myself but ultmately being in my my own space brings me peace. That, and spending time with my friends and family.

My favourite things to do are cycling, cooking (everything), visiting art galleries (Tawani contemporary gallery- I like the artwork from the African diaspora that they showcase). I'm inspired mainly by West African sign paintings and Black British photography- Charlie Phillips is an all time favourite of mine.


My aunty influences the way I style my hair- she currently has locks (which will be my next hairstyle), but generally the women around me inspire me. Hair to me is a form  of expression, sometimes I see it as a rebellious act. I see it as a reflection of non- conformance, which is different from society's perception now. It's all about the euro- centric look really, that’s what we’re encouraged to strive for. You know the natural hair blogs that seemingly showcase black hair for black women of today? The ones with the most loose curls and defined are the most aspirational you know. When it’s kinky, and very nappy, it’s not so natural so it doesn’t fit into the euro-centric ideals.

When I was younger my parents used to say that there’s a balance between studies and chores/ housework- it’s important that I find it.  My mothers a simple woman, she’s confident in herself. She’s never really said anything regarding it, but it’s inspired me to be myself. A sort of ‘do as I do, not as I say’ mantra.

I feel like everyone should allow herself to make mistakes, be daring. Whatever your passion is, pursue it to the fullest extent before you die. Pursue purpose; it's the only thing you can do in this life.