“I didn’t know how to communicate my identity. As time went on I realised I was just lying to myself”
Norradean has recently completed a book of short stories traversing the dark subject matters one can expect from this crew: rape, murder, drug abuse, domestic violence… I ask why their topics are always so bleak? “It’s tales of South East London. So when I lived in the crackhouse, I came across so many stories and scenarios and what I tried to do is incorporate them all. Each chapter has a character, each character has a subject matter, but the five chapters at the end merge all the stories so all the characters are linked in one way or another.” Norradean is in talks with a major publisher, and the book will be released by the summer, entitled ‘The Purple Tower Block’, in homage to his former home. The end game is to turn this book into a film, by creating CanvAs Pieces for each chapter, with artists telling the story through music and poetry.
“We’d done it on a broken laptop, borrowed cameras, it was done with absolutely nothing”
Norradean feels, however, that their current audience does not reflect the audience they wish to obtain. ‘It was getting attention, but from the PHD students – we were doing conferences – but that wasn’t really the direction I thought it would go in,” Norradean explains. “A lot of the people we want to tap into for CanvAs as a whole are not readers, they’re not academics, we want to get the urban, street environment purely because those are the ones that can really relate to these stories.” The stories in the book are based on real people and factual situations Norradean came across during the time he was homeless. “I want it to really touch, as opposed to inspire. An artist‘s role is not just to create, but to touch, that’s the whole objective behind it.”
“Growing up in South London, in that street environment, it gives you a different appreciation for life, and being homeless, that’s when I really found myself”
He is surprisingly self-deprecating about the work CanvAs have done so far. ‘Being absolutely honest [the videos] were shit. The content and the message behind them was there, but the production was shit, the direction was shit. It wasn’t how we pictured it. Knowing how we’d done it on a broken laptop, borrowed cameras, it was done with absolutely nothing.” With new investment they hope to break new barriers and create work that they can be proud of long-term. I laugh and say that it is unorthodox to tell an interviewer that your product is ‘shit’ but it’s clear these guys have a bigger vision. “When you’re doing it and you’re the one responsible for it, you see all the failures and the faults”. The video ‘The Fantasy’ was nominated for an Adobe Aspire award, but Norradean “didn’t even think the video was worthy of being shortlisted”. The crew are still working on assembling the right team behind them to make their visions translate to the screen in the way they want them to, and plan on redoing all the previously released pieces in the future.