Dental nurse 'elevating' African culture wins photography award

Sheila Barbosa standing outside the University of Suffolk

Ipswich dental nurse, Sheila Barbosa, has won African Fashion Photographer of the Year - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A dental nurse from Ipswich ‘elevating’ African culture is celebrating her win as African Fashion Photographer of the year and subsequent exhibition at the University of Suffolk.  

Sheila Barbosa, 35, was one of seven to be shortlisted for the photography category in the African Fashion Awards.

The awards recognises the talent of people from African heritage backgrounds in the fashion industry.  

Within each category, creatives had to represent and highlight African culture which Sheila captured in her photos of African models wearing African clothes and accessories. 

Sheila explained that her photos start to break down negative perceptions about Africa and show the beauty of African women. 

A woman wearing an earring in the shape of Africa

One of Sheila's photos submitted for the African Fashion Awards - Credit: Sheila Barbosa

African model posing near a red telephone box wearing brightly coloured African clothing

Sheila wanted to show the beauty of African women - Credit: Sheila Barbosa

She said: “It’s important to elevate African cultures for so many reasons. First of all, the African culture that we are taught in school is more about slaves – there isn’t an enhanced history taught in schools in Europe.  

“With the earrings and with the photography we elevate that culture because there is a meaning. We have kings and queens. We have a whole empire which is not taught. 

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“So, we have to accept our roots, our curly hair, our skin. If Africans don’t do this, then who will?” she added. 

Originally from Guinea-Bissau, Sheila moved to the UK in order to pursue a career in photography, but because of financial reasons was not able to study photography at the London College of Communication.

Sheila then trained to become a dental nurse where she has stayed for 16 years.  

Sheila posing with some of her work shown at the University of Suffolk

Sheila's work is being shown at the University of Suffolk - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

But that is all about to change.

Sheila has recently resigned to pursue her photography business –  Zoomphoto4u –  full time and hopes to get back to running her micro shop in Ipswich centre. 

An exhibition of Sheila’s work is on show at the University of Suffolk and she will be also be holding a lecture at the university. She hopes to hold her own exhibition in the future and will continue to highlight African culture.  

“As long as I am working, I will always elevate the culture,” she added.  

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