The Apotheosis of Erroll Starr

Aaron T. Francis and Shazia Ranmal


The Apotheosis of Erroll Starr is a collaboration between Aaron Francis of Vintage Black Canada™ and Johannesburg-born, Montreal-based Shazia Ranmal, commissioned by Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener + Area (CAFKA). 

Defined in part as the “culmination or climax” of a process or state of being, apotheosis in this context alludes to decades of reverence afforded to Erroll not solely from fans of his award-winning career as a Canadian musician, but from the perspective of his nephew, Aaron. 

Based on archival family and press photography, this work seeks to interpret Erroll’s ascent from first-generation-Canadian boyhood to bonafide rock-God, and juxtapose said narrative against Shazia’s collage style. From right to left we see Erroll as a young boy flanked by his father and brothers and then later his Mother and Aunt as he himself looks away clutching a balloon. By the time Erroll’s avatar has ascended the mountains to the far left, he’s clearly marked his own path, replete with a sports car and sunglasses, all while an omnipresent version of himself towers over the landscape, pointing to the past and reminding Erroll of his humble beginnings. This afro-futurist intergalactic collage illustrates the relationship one has with their former self while reflecting on Erroll’s personal journey. 


Aaron T. Francis is a doctoral student at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, a multidisciplinary artist, and a curator.  Images from Aaron’s Vintage Black Canada™ initiative have been exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the University of Waterloo Art Gallery (in collaboration with CAFKA) and at the BAND Gallery, Toronto.  Currently, Aaron is producing a documentary in collaboration with Kyle Sawyer and Taylor Jones (Digital Sabbath) about his Juno-award winning uncle, Kitchener-Waterloo’s own Errol Starr. 

Vintage Black Canada™ is a multidisciplinary creative initiative documenting the transnational modern history of the African Diaspora in Canada with often specific reference to Kitchener-Waterloo, centered on archiving the visual and oral history of Black diaspora families and all they have richly contributed to Canada’s cultural milieu.

Shazia Ranmal is a Montreal-based Multi-disciplinary artist. Her practice includes film photography, digital and analogue collages, sculpture, and textile manipulation.  Her work examines the relationship between tradition and innovation and themes of the dystopian/ Utopian futures, technology and space exploration. She explores the relationships between people and the physical space, the means, methods and emotions. Born and raised In Johannesburg, South Africa, by a Congolese mother and Indian father, Shazia is the definition of multiculturalism. She tries to reconcile the different aspects of her identity and sometimes conflicting world views through her art.


Aaron Francis, Apotheosis of Erroll Starr (May, 2022) Installation view. Photo Documentation: Conan Stark.

This installation is made possible through the support of Conestoga Mall