Dear Archives is a series of portraiture paintings which narrate of Black/ Asian woman in colonial settings. The purpose of this series is to assess the feelings of Black/ Ethnic women towards embracing their British identity, having been brought up in the United Kingdom, Europe or post-colonial countries. These portraits seek to shed a new perspective of ethnic woman in historical portraits, presenting a bold reproach to the reputation of ethnic woman in historical British portraiture, which has often been derogatory. Additionally, the objective is to re-condition the negative mindset of ethnic women who live in the UK, a mindset which has been programmed by the curriculum and mainstream media.
The concept of juxtaposing the unserious/ sarcastic persona of the ‘staged’ subject with the conservative or ‘posh’ aura plays a significant technical role in addressing how ethnic women feel about their British identity. The 18th century costume with contemporary brands and accessories specific to ‘Black-British’ culture in London, helps break the chasm between ‘Street Britain’ and ‘Conservative Britain. The use of floral wallpaper relief ornaments the paintings. This embellishes the painting without the use of an ornate frame.
I began this series out of frustration of the derogatory representations of ethnic people in historical European paintings, but particularly women. In grand museums and galleries like the Tate Britain, National Gallery or Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, black/ethnic people are portrayed often as the 'servant’, ‘exotic object' or 'un-named' subject', framed in gold. This is a seed of social-conditioning, bringing about the low-esteem of ethnic citizens. In this series, I aim to re-write this unfortunate portrayal, empowering the way black/ ethnic women view themselves in 'art history' today.