Great African: Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy

February 2016

This name may not be familiar to many but she was one outstanding African.

Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy (MBE)

Chinwe Ifeoma Chukwuogo-Roy was born in 1952 in Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria but moved with her family to Ikom in Cross River State, where her father had extensive cocoa plantations. As a teenager she was a refugee in the Biafran War after which she moved to the family home in Awka and in 1975 she moved to Britain. She studied at East Ham College of Art (now part of Middlesex University) in 1978. She took up painting professionally in 1988.

Chinwe’s talent spans a wide and varied canvas. She captures the essence of her subjects with her life studies in oils and pastels and has earned international recognition. Although the subjects nearest her heart are potraits in oils, the artist also sculpts in clay.

This amazing African first gained international fame for painting the official Golden Jubilee portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, commissioned by the Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon on Commonwealth Day, 2002.

Chinwe and the Queen’s Portrait

Other high-profile commissions include portraits of Kriss Akabusi, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the Lord Mayor of Norwich. She was commissioned by Martin Keown to paint Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium. In 2003, Chukwuogo-Roy represented the United Kingdom at the European Council Committee in Paris, advising on Contemporary African Art and Artists. In December that year, she also instigated and organised the “Celebrate” Exhibition for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Abuja. Chinwe was a founding member of the renowned Sudbourne Printmakers, involving several leading Suffolk artists. Examples of Chukwuogo-Roy’s work are held in many public and private art collections, including that of Queen Elizabeth II, and that of Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria. She exhibited throughout Britain as well as internationally. Her work is represented in public and private collections in Antigua, Argentina, Australia, France, Grenada, Ireland, Kenya, Malaysia, Mozambique, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and USA. She had many solo exhibitions including those at Christchurch Mansions, Ipswich; the Mall Galleries, London; The Royal Commonwealth Society, London; Sainbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia; Reve’s Cork Street Gallery, London; Connecticut University, Connecticut; Didi Museum, Lagos; UNESCO, Paris; Aldeburgh Festival Gallery. Suffolk; Colchester and Ipswich Museum Saatchi Gallery; Suffolk.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Portrait

Chukwuogo-Roy’s portrait of the 1990-2000 Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999 and hangs alongside the Golden Jubilee portrait of the monarch herself in Marlborough House. There has been a permanent exhibition of her work in the Menzies and Hancock Rooms at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study since May 2006.

Chukwuogo-Roy won many awards and was featured prominently in the international media, both for her art and also for her charitable and educational work with young people. A biography entitled Chinwe Roy – Artist, published by Tamarind books, is now studied by children in the UK as part of the National Curriculum. In 2003, Chukwuogo-Roy was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of East Anglia. Her work appeared on the national postage stamps of seven countries during 2006. In 2008, she was invited to address the Cambridge Union. In 2010 Chukwuogo-Roy was made a Member of the Most excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her contributions to Art.

In December 2012, after a lengthy illness with cancer, she died at her home in Hachetson, near Framlingham, Suffolk at the age of 60.


Source: Wikipedia and Chinweogo-Roy Website