Moana Cosplay at Hyper Japan 2017

A few months ago, I signed up to be entered for the COSParade at Hyper Japan this year. Only earlier last week did they get back with confirmation! Excited and also freaking out (I had nothing planned!) I looked up and Tahitian dance moves, practiced and created my own dance routine in a matter of days. On the day of the COSParade, we got our numbers of what order we were, I was 43; the last to go on. Lining up as I got the nearer to the stage, the more real it became and I got really nervous. I was taking deep breaths, trying not to panic and remind myself this is something I really want to do, above all I wanted to face my fears and up my confidence. Now was my time to do it as Moana! When I hit the stage, I did my 1 minute performance to ‘Logo Te Pate’ and did all I could to own the stage. This was my moment to shine! It also helped to see Mo in the audience cheering me on and waving right at me 🙂

Once finished with my performance, the COSParade was over. I am so happy with myself for doing it! So many of the other cosplayers were in awe of my performance too. A girl said to me once you hit the stage with the music and we saw your amazing dance routine (and hips!), we all went silent and everyone backstage was watching you – you were so AMAZING! So many of the girls loved it and it really flattered me, I couldn’t believe it! I’m so proud of myself to have ‘felt the fear and do it anyway’! I’m even more touched it got across to a whole bunch of people – I found a tweet of a photo someone took saying how excited they were to see Moana! Whilst walking around Hyper Japan afterwards, everybody commented “Great performance!” to me and asked for a picture. I loved it! I love to cosplay, I’ve always wanted to do it since I was a teen but everyone called me weird or childish for it. I am so happy to have finally found a place where I can be myself, be accepted and cheered on by everyone! Little 13 year old Aliyah will be crying tears of joy.

July ID

Here is the new July ID! I’ve been meaning to draw an image like this for over a year, but I just didn’t have the means and understanding of how to portray it at the time. I had a brain blast recently and with the constant practice, it has really helped me to improve and create this piece 🌺. A tip for aspiring artists – keep copying poses and pictures you like to really grasp the style and then you’ll develop your own out of this. Find your niche!

This is inspired by Lianne La Havas’ song ‘Unstoppable’ and her album cover for ‘Blood’.

Art for Grenfell

With the tragedy that happened in Grenfell Tower on June 14th, I have been doing everything I can in the past month to contribute what I can to help. I felt very shocked and upset by this tragedy, it happened so close to home and in a place I grew up visiting my friends from secondary school. Also my current place of work is literally 10 seconds away from tower, many people from Grenfell Tower were frequent visitors to the Kensington Leisure Centre, I recognised many faces on the missing posters.

It saddened me and I really felt I had to do something. Kensington Leisure Centre organised a Community Day on July 9th and I was happy to do a painting to donate to the centre for the day, so everybody visiting can feel empowered and encourage positive reinforcement. I never understood the power of Art and how healing it can be. I got many messages from people saying how moved they were from the painting, how empowered and good they felt. They wanted to contribute and help in whatever way they can. I am so overjoyed I got this message across in my art piece. The painting is displayed at the Kensington Leisure Centre if you ever come down to visit! It also inspired a fellow artist friend of mine from secondary school, Annette Fernando. We met up and created a heart together with the image of a Phoenix and we are planning to take this to a bigger scale and create an art mural of it! The symbolism of the Phoenix is to rise up from the ashes we feel is very appropriate and positive in remembrance of the victims from this tragedy.

The Grenfell Tower fire is a tragedy that could have been prevented, there are so many factors that caused the fire to spread as monstrously as it did. Even with the Grenfell Action Group in place declaring these factors in 2016, Kensington Council did absolutely nothing. At work I meet the survivors, they come inside to visit and I hear their stories, the truth of the events. I see distraught family members of victims walking by with police to go and identify the dead bodies in the forensics tents just behind the centre. It’s a dreary and depressing atmosphere that rests in North Kensington, but the most comforting thing is that community has bonded and come together so strongly. When I come to work or when I walk around the Westway memorial, I never fail to see a smiling face always willing to reach out a friendly hand and have a conversation. You are never alone in this area, I have connected with so many people through this tragedy, we are now a united front who will make sure that justice will be done and carry on to influence positivity in the art we share and the words we speak.