Artist Danny Keen awarded BEFFTA Award

Danny Keen with his portraits

Danny Keen with his portraits - Credit: Paul Dickson

Danny Keen, a Norwich based artist, has been awarded a lifetime achievement award at the Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts Awards (BEFFTA).

Mr Keen has been awarded the acclaim thanks to his portrayals of prominent figures in the black community, such as Mary Seacole, James Oyebola, and Johnson Beharry.

Keen's works are hung variously in City Hall London, and the Imperial War Museum, and is hoping that his next works, featuring other previous BEFFTA Award-winners, will be received just as well.

'My projects attempt to portray black people in a better light,' Mr Keen, who lives in Norwich, said.

'I want to do projects like this because it puts the black community back into out rightful places, both culturally and in history.'

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Mr Keen was one of the 'Windrush Generation,' who arrived on the Empire Windrush in London from Jamaica in 1952.

'I think people are confused as to how a man born in Jamaica has ended up in Norwich,' he said. 'But what they don't know is that Lord Nelson, who is so famous here in Norfolk, sailed for Jamaica in boat called the Lowestoft.

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'My whole career is around promoting the image of black people and the black community, and my function is also to point out that we are the black histories, we are the 'hidden histories.''

'I've never met another West Indian training in the fine arts,' Mr Keen continued. 'This award is a recognition within the black community, it's a recognition from my peers, which is just fantastic.'

Mr Keen, born in Kingston, Jamaica, 1948, is also now a keen advocate of living in Norfolk.

He said: 'A Jamaican living in the countryside can confuse people, but I feel like a local! I love it in Norfolk, I like the neighbours. They don't talk to me like a foreigner.'

He added: 'I'm most proud of the work I've produced, and my studio, here in Norfolk.'

Mr Keen's next models are already lining up to sit for the artist. including singer Lemar and founder of the MOBO Awards, Kanya King, as well as the founder of the BEFFTA Awards, Dr Pauline Long.

'I've also approached Lenny Henry and Trevor McDonald,' Mr Keen said.

The next set of Mr Keen's work will be presented at the 2017 BEFFTA Awards. As an instrumental member of the committee which runs Norfolk's Black History Month, Mr Keen has a lot to do before then.

'The last set of portraits was ten paintings, I don't think I'll have time to do that between now and October so I just want to do as many as I can,' Mr Keen said.

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