A reflection on We Are Warriors

Osunwunmi writes about We Are Warriors

Here are the women and girls who gave us their breath, their spirit, their voice, their light. Osunwunmi

“I love the Dark Studio. I’ve made work in there. It’s a place of soft black, for looking at secrets. Or, it’s a calm place, where you can safely excavate things you wouldn’t care to anywhere else. Things you might be scared of, or embarrassed by, or regret too much and too painfully, if the light were harsher and you had no way of avoiding them. But here, they can safely stay in the corner of your mind and the corner of your eye until you can gently brush the mould off and see what they feel like. And usually, these uncovered things are warm, breathing, vital.

Here Helen Cole has conjured: a garden of delights; a winding path, a walk in the woods; a night-time spread of fireflies. Light in darkness.

A trail of breadcrumbs; an enchanted forest; the Jack o’Lantern, ignis fatuus, wil-o-wisp. To stray or not stray? Make a place for yourself on the floor, you will have to brush the little bulbs aside to do so. Some are winking out already. Above your head strings of little bulbs fall into your field of vision. Move around, off the path, and you can see the effect you have on them. You’ll see them sway. Fragile. Persistent.

Souls and light have a long association. We light a candle to commemorate souls in some religions, or Goddesses in others. We light candles to bring old souls home so we can spend time with them and have a picnic. Or we light candles because we have prayed and the light and fire is our pure intention, our notice, the magic thing (though we don’t believe in magic) that means we’re reaching out of our own space to somewhere the body doesn’t go. Stories go there though, and so does memory. As we are modern now we have replaced flame with electricity; I think the magic carried over, and is safer, though not when the electricity is in its elemental form.

Strings of lights hanging: a jewelled tree; or that diamond place in the mind (beyond the doors) that Huxley guessed was the origin of the concept of fairyland, or paradise.

Sound moves around the room, in and out of corners and across gaps, a shuffle a song a greeting a breath. Here are the women of Breathing Fire who made space for so many more voices. Here are the women and girls who gave us their breath, their spirit, their voice, their light. Here are also an invisible host, military manoeuvres, an initiation rite of arcane breath work channeling (what else?) spirit, energy, ‘combination’, as the old factory owners used to say, in the days when it was illegal. I mean, not combinations as in underwear – for in talking about women we can always be mocked for merely having a body, especially a non-standard one – but the collective. Not only family, but power. The power we get from and give to each other. Here, we hear a hint of the collective, which includes who we are now, and those who lived before and brought us here.

Let us remember that this show is about women, who speak and speak and are forgotten. Take time in the dark to uncover, to remember, to recollect that they always surrounded you, speaking, doing, making, fighting, singing, building. If they hadn’t been there, I think perhaps you might have noticed that.”


Folake Shoga is a Nigerian/British artist working out of Bristol, using among other things moving image and sculpture and drawing. Folake has been exploring both practice and critique in Live Art and sometimes writes under the name Osunwunmi, a name that invokes the Yoruba Orisha as exemplar and as inspiration.

Folake Shoga © Evoke Pictures