Manitoba

Winnipeg artist Gibril Bangura signs with gallery in England

A refugee from Sierra Leone who peddled his artwork around Winnipeg on a bicycle has signed a contract with a gallery in London, England.

Artwork will be auctioned off to raise money for Ebola victims and their families

A refugee from Sierra Leone who peddled his artwork around Winnipeg on a bicycle has signed a contract with a gallery in London, England 1:58

A refugee from Sierra Leone who peddled his artwork around Winnipeg on a bicycle has signed a contract with a gallery in London, England.

Gibril Bangura's work will first be part of an exhibition for the United Nations in New York this summer. It will then be sent on to London to be auctioned off to raise money for Ebola victims and their families.
Gibril Bangura (CBC)

"It is uplifting. It is encouraging. It makes me driven me to do more [and] it tells me the sky is my limit," said Bangura, whose come a long way in a short time against big odds.

Bangura fled his west African country in 2014 with his wife and three children, arriving homeless in Winnipeg in the bitter February cold.

The family stayed at Welcome Place — a temporary residence for refugees offered by the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council Inc. — then moved into a co-op housing unit.

While Bangura cycled around, winter or summer, trying to sell art cards, he would encounter naysayers who told him he would never make it as an artist in the city.
An example of Gibril Bangura's vibrant artwork, which he describes as collages, and made of different pieces of fabric. (CBC)

But Bangura proved them wrong. In April 2015, he was invited to put his art up in Seven Oaks Hospital, becoming the first artist to utilize a new gallery space in one of the main hallways at the hospital.

His work was then picked up by the Gurevich Gallery in Winnipeg's Exchange District.

"If someone says something contrary to what I believe, you are only pushing me forward. That's what I believe." Bangura said. "I know the only person who can stop me is me myself.

The London Gallery found Bangura's work on Facebook.

Although the art has already been sent to New York for the exhibit, Bangura himself won't be there to see it on display. He was unable to get his documentation fast-tracked through customs and immigration to be able to cross the border.

Gibril says whatever success comes his way, he will always live in Winnipeg. He loves the city and the winter — it gives him more time to stay indoors and paint.

Gibril Bangura's art work will be sent to London to be auctioned off to raise money for Ebola victims and their families.