Broken Laptop, Borrowed Cameras: Norradean Amorro’s CanvAs Pieces (Part 4)

Having experienced homelessness himself, Norradean also created a piece and wrote an article on the topic, inspired by his experience of begging on London’s Oxford Street. “I wanted to create a sense of emotion and restore our faith in people,” he tells me. The article sparked the attention of the British newspaper The Guardian, and Norradean is considering an internship at the paper to hone his journalism skills. “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.” This taught Norradean how to become a social chameleon, able to traverse two very different worlds. Sat before me, in the lobby of Westminster University, is an articulate, informed, confident young man, however he explains: “how I’m talking now is not how I would talk in that environment. Everything about me has changed but my mind is still the same, I’m just able to communicate in a different way.”

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Norradean’s life story clearly informs his work. Born to a German mother and a Dominican father in Cairo, Norradean spent his formative years growing up in South London, enduring a difficult relationship with his father, and suffering from a lack of a coherent identity. In reference to their video featuring Free D and Dean Atta, ‘Waiting on a Fatherless Nation’, Norradean states: “That was really personal to me because that was my relationship with my dad, the same black dad story.” Growing up within a black community in which his light skin differentiated him from his peers, like many teenagers Norradean underwent a process of identity construction, exploring his various roots, both Dominican and Egyptian, as well as temporarily converting to Islam. “I didn’t know how to communicate my identity,” he explains. “From trying to be myself, I’d almost become a street kid, like a hoodlum. “As time went on I realised I was just lying to myself, I’m not anything, I’m me. And it was at that point when I dropped the slang, dropped the attitude, dropped the character, and it felt so much more comfortable.”

Suffering from poor literacy in school, he scraped his English qualifications, thus his creative writing has been an entirely organic process. “I feel like I’ve escaped to the real world, I think I was in a little box,” he says of his formative years, decrying education policy for its narrow pedagogy. “I think life gives you relevant lessons,” he muses. “The last few years have been my education”. He’s still not keen on the academy now, describing it as lacking “free experience or real emotion”. Norradean studied advertising and marketing communications at Greenwich University, following double business and drama at ‘A’ level. “I haven’t used my degree once,” he laughs. He left with a 2:1 despite spending his last year homeless. “I never had any idea of what I wanted to do after college, all I knew is I wanted to get away from home, and I wanted to escape my dad. Towards my last year everything kinda spiralled out of control, that’s when I rebelled and said I’m not gonna have this anymore. Then I became who I am now and found my identity.”

NEXT: Adulthood and going behind the camera – Norradean Amorro’s CanvAs Pieces (Finale)

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