At this point, it’s fair to say that each new season of Top Boy feels like a landmark moment for British television.
Over the last 12 years, the show which began life on Channel 4 in its ‘Summerhouse’ iteration before returning by popular demand to Netflix has only become more revered. Now, its latest outing has marked the time for its swan song, and a free exhibition named ‘Portrait Of A Top Boy’ has opened in London to celebrate the show’s curtain call.
Running until September 13, the Top Boy exhibition will allow fans to visit Somerset House’s Embankment Galleries to view the exhibition demonstrating the cultural impact the series has had. Among those celebrating the exhibition were rappers Giggs and Cristale, who both performed at its opening night.
What characters are portrayed at ‘Portraits Of A Top Boy’?
Carefully curated by artist Ronan McKenzie, the Top Boy exhibition displays work from 16 black artists based in the UK, with each choosing a character from the show to depict. Each portrait details the personal relationship between the artist and the character, as well as the series as a whole.
Jaq, played by Jasmine Jobson, has been a central character in the show since its Netflix relaunch. She was chosen by three artists (Teoni, Babajide Olatunji and Tonique ), who praised her character for her burning love for her partner, sister and nephew as well as her need to do the right thing.
Dushane, who has defined the show since its birth and is played by Ashley Walters, and was unsurprisingly, like Jaq, a popular choice by artists. Kione Grandion, Aaron Bevan-Bailey, and Annan Affotey chose to create a portrait of Dushane, and they examine the characters ‘strength and fragility’ and his still facial expression at moments in the show.
Sully, played by Kane Robinson (aka Kano), has also been a monumental character throughout the entire series, with Joshua Donkor, Gabriel Choto, and Jack Dickson choosing him to portray. They show his good and bad sides as well his unflinching principles and loyalty to his family.
Stefan, who is played by Araloyin Oshunremi, is first seen in the Netflix iteration and is the brother of Jamie (Michael Ward). He goes through a series of adverse circumstances surrounding his friends and family throughout, and the artists (Brianna Parker, Ken Nwadiogbu, and Tejumola Butler Adenuga) that created his portrait single out his strength in navigating these hardships while growing up.
Other Top Boy characters that visitors can see portraits of at Somerset House include Jamie by Hamed Maiye; Shelley (Simbiatu Ajikawo, aka Little Simz) by Natasha Muluswela; Dris (Shone Romulus) by Olivia Twist and Modie (David Omoregie aka Dave) by Toby Michael.
Portrait Of A Top Boy is completely free to visit and runs at Somerset House’s Embankment Gardens until September 13.