On the 15th of October I had my first exhibition.

On the 15th of October 2011 I lost my family home to a fire.

That day was the best and worst of my life. All the work I had done building up to show was the first time I really felt I was doing exactly what I’d love to do for the rest of my life. All the opportunities seized, all the phone calls made, all the ignored emails had given me a sense of righteousness that you can only get from being at a certain height of elevation.

The show went well, I had a photo booth set up to take pictures of everyone who came down. Performances going on downstairs from Ms Dynamite, Artful Dodger, Heartless Crew and Yasmin made the walls thud from noon onwards. The energy was incredible.

Photo: Rosa Maria Koolhoven

Just as I had taken the last photo my phone rang. On the other end of the line was my brother. An unusually soft tone came from him as he uttered the words “The house is fire, it’s gone.” I tried to speak but the nervous stutter I had as a teenager decided to make an appearance for the first time in years.

Photo: Rosa Maria Koolhoven

After he had finished speaking I put down the phone, sat in the middle of the exhibition floor and cried. My friend hugged what felt like the last piece of happiness on my torso.

With the help of my team, I gathered my things and hastily headed back to what was left of my home.

Photo: Rosa Maria Koolhoven

As I walked through my door, a heat wave suddenly took over me and made clear that hell had paid a visit. Blackness was its best friend.

 

After brief conversation with my family, we packed up what was left and started to plan how we were not going to be homeless for the next three months. This proved to be lesson well taught. In those three months, the airbed I slept on became my cloud with a silver lining. I decided to start living a do or die lifestyle.

Pitching to anyone I could find averaging 10 emails a day.

Spending my last pound on food I knew was wrong to buy but “who cares, I might die today.”

Going to parties I knew I’d dislike but the thought of wasting a night on sleep was too much to bear.

Three months of waiting. Insurance company calling. Portrait taking. Emotion masking. Back home moving. Studio opening.

This is my story. You can call me Pharaoh.