Dear Archives is a Feminist 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/ Asian 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 Black/ Asian woman in historical portraits, a bold reproach to the derogatory reputation of ethnic woman in historical portraiture. Additionally, my objective is to re-condition the negative mindset of Black/ Asian women towards art history, a mindset 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. 18th century costume juxtaposed with contemporary brands specific to ‘Black-British’ culture helps break the chasm between ‘Street’ and ‘Conservative' Britain. The use of floral wallpaper relief ornaments the paintings, embellishing them without the use of an ornate frame.
I began this series out of frustration of derogatory representations of ethnic people in historical portraiture, but particularly women. In grand galleries like the Tate Britain, National Gallery or Thyssen-Bornemisza, black/ethnic people are portrayed often as the 'servant’, ‘exotic object' or 'un-named' subject'. This seed of social-conditioning brings about the low-esteem of ethnic citizens. I aim to re-write this unfortunate portrayal, empowering the way black/ ethnic women view themselves in 'art history'.