In this piece, I have responded to a poem by Scottish poet William Dunbar titled ‘Of Ane Blak-Moir’ which records the documentation of the presence of an African women in Scotland in the 16th century.
By integrating craft practises into my work, I use its relegated status in the art world to address the identity politics of marginalised groups. In addition, by interacting with craft practises, my work celebrates the art from these communities that is often left out the canon of art history.
This rejection of the Western art canon and the white gallery space, is a theme that perpetuates throughout my work as I incorporate mixed media techniques to present a new reimaged depiction of the Black body. The collection of these materials and embellishments makes the work loud, seducing the viewer into looking at it. My figures consequently become unavoidably noticeable, counteracting the erasure of Black women in art history. My construction of the women with irregular limbs and glittery bodies, glorifies the handmade and rebelliously drifts from the norms of Western painting traditions, re-evaluating conventional Western art ideals.
Significantly, this autonomy I have towards my work speaks through the figures as they are similarly raised to a high status and stand independently as I capture the Black figures on my own terms. I do this by reimaging racist caricatures and stereotypes placed on the Black female body and turn these ‘Mammy’-like figures into empowered, historically significant symbols. At the same time, with cheap blonde hair which is clearly a wig, make up and dresses that have western origins, I consider the physical and mental changes that Black bodies go through to be seen by a predominantly white audience.
The contrasting ideas within the work, with juxtaposing materials brought together in one cohesive piece, attempts to mimic the same duality of being Black and European at once and illustrate a shared Black experience of living with that dichotomy.