Libby Odai

Digital Projects

We Are Essential

Harry demoing the software
Audience memeber exploring AI
Audience demoing the software

We Are Essential - City Art Gallery - Edinburgh July - Oct 2020: Part of the Black Lives Matter Mural Trail

We are essential highlights the deaths of black “essential” workers. Society is built on black labour and could not function without it: 1 in 5 key workers with the highest exposure to Covid-19 are Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic backgrounds. BAME health workers were largely celebrations of appreciation for key workers. Media coverage of “Clap for Carers” often only featured white medical staff, although 20% of NHS staff being non-white. 29.8% BAME staff in the NHS reported bullying, harassment and abuse in 2019. In 2020 63% of NHS staff who died of Covid-19 were BAME.

Systemic racism pervades and escalates. Belly Mujinga, a railway station worker died of Covid-19 after a passenger who said he had the disease spat and coughed at her. Breonna Taylor, an ER technician died after she was shot by police while sleeping. Neither has secured any prosecutions or convictions in their deaths. We are essential is a demand for justice.


We are Essential is built with Arduino and mixed media sculpture