Adelaide Damoah's work has been described as a stroke of genius and critics say she is the one to watch. She talks about her passion and why she uses her art to push boundaries in society.
Her paintings are described as 'visual poetry' and she is referred to as an unusual artist, but Adelaide Damoah says her work is "A social commentary and a perception and criticism of the times that we live in".
Born in the UK to Ghanaian parents, Damoah's passion for painting started at an early age but she never considered it to be part of her future.
It was just something she excelled at. It also led to her discovery of Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter renowned for her deeply personal and autobiographical work, and use of vibrant colours fuelled Damoah's love for painting.
An artist who takes her inspiration from life and the inner recesses of her being, Damoah describes an incident from her secondary school days when she was asked to paint a personal portrait based on personal experiences.
She says, "I ended up doing a self portrait with a gash in my forehead and there was an eye inside my forehead and I was crying. To be honest, I can't imagine what I could have possibly been going through at the age of 15 to do such a deep and emotional piece but somehow, whatever it was, I managed to express it through that work, and that's where it started from".
However, Damoah left the arts after secondary school and studied Applied Biology at university, after which she pursued a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Though she continued to paint in her spare time, art became a hobby.
But that changed in 2000, when Damoah was diagnosed with Endometriosis, a painful and much misunderstood female medical condition.
Forced to give up on her career due to the debilitating illness, Damoah would redefine herself through her art when her health became the basis of a mind-blowing series of heartfelt paintings, depicting her pain in a kaleidoscopic form.
A self-taught artist, Damoah calls her style 'Automatic Drawing,' - drawing without conscious thought. A style likened to a technique used by psychologists: 'Automatic Writing.' Confident of her abilities, Damoah is not afraid to push the boundaries of what any institution calls art.
Neither does she shy away from challenging racial barriers and prejudices in society. Noted for her 2006 collection, 'Black Brits', in which she depicted iconic British figures like the late Princess Diana, David Beckham and Margaret Thatcher as black people.
"If you made the decision to produce work which is gutsy, honest and true, and people get upset; it means I have touched on a nerve. Maybe that person will remember me and my work as a result of that. For me, the most important thing is that I say what I want to say through my work. How people take it is how people take it".
Damoah is no stranger to pain and is not afraid to take on unsavoury issues like domestic violence or the burden of living with a medical condition through her work.
The artist admits she is obsessed with the human body and so makes it the subject of her work: "My subject matter is human beings and everything that we go through and the human experience". This has often seen her using her craft to give back to society.
She works closely with UK based charities like the 'World Endometriosis Research Foundation' and 'The National Centre for Domestic Violence', to raise awareness.
Asked if she is concerned about being criticised for her decision to push her art by bringing attention to a cause, Damoah replied "I'm trying to help them highlight their cause but in doing so, my work will be publicised, so there is no point in trying to deny that isn't going to be a package".
"That is the reality of helping out. I'm giving but I'm also receiving at the same time because I'll be getting extra publicity".
"Personally as an artist and maybe because I come from a business background, I don't see anything wrong with publicity, I don't see anything wrong with sales, whereas some artists do and get offended by you just making that statement".
Damoah has been working on increasing her international presence with an exhibition in Hungary, another will hold soon in Denmark, with more planned for the future.
It is Damoah's dream to have her work exhibited at some of the world's most prestigious art fairs like the Venice Biennale, the Frieze Art Fair and the Art Basel in Miami.
Not to be pigeon-holed
As an artist, it is important for Damoah that she is not pigeon-holed on the grounds of ethnicity. She believes an artist should be able to flow with their work without the labels.
While she is very proud of her African heritage, she does not believe in the name tags which come with her ethnic background. "First and foremost, I want people to see the work before they see me because it is about the work".
"At the end of the day, I'm what I am and as human beings, we make judgements and try to box people up".
"Obviously, my parents are from Ghana, I was born in Britain and my heritage will have a profound influence on part and parcel of who I am. I don't want to be pigeon-holed as a black artist or an African artist. I just want to be seen as artist".
Though remaining coy about the future, Damoah reveals she has the next 12 years of her career planned out and has a lot of subjects she wants to address through her work. She sounds a word of warning to the art world, "Expect the unexpected".