My work looks to investigate notions of what it means to be quintessentially British by contrasting our preconceived notions of Britishness with modern societal archetypes. I also want to normalise seeing people from ethnically diverse backgrounds being depicted within British Portraiture. So that future generations can see a complete narrative of what it means to be British.
Using a monochrome medium such as the black ballpoint pen to champion black and brown figures allows me to show that there is more to an individual than just the colour of their skin. Due to a historical lack of representation I feel the onus to depict such individuals who have not always been given the visibility that they deserve.
Britishness has connotations with whiteness, colonialism, power and an idealised notion of greatness. Great Britain being perceived through the lens of an immigrant from a former colony such as Sierra Leone, i.e my parents in contrast to my being the first generation of my family born in the UK create interesting dichotomies.
The artwork placed on gallery or museum walls are profoundly significant to how we represent any specific cultural period. They tell a narrative of what came before us. We assume they are accurate and convey a balanced and true depiction. Researching and developing new ideas for artworks in direct response to the portraiture of two great British artists who work in different mediums and creating work over 100 years apart is an ideal and relevant context for me to delve into and broaden the scope of my practice.
I will use the time in residency to further research the sitters within both bodies of work, probing to find differences and similarities. This will allow me the time to explore how I can create portraits that depict what it means to be a Great Britain. Perhaps this will be in the form of depicting ideas of greatness that we may not usually consider, perhaps seeing the attributes of the sitters and then re-contextualising them to shine a light on great Britons who do not have a great level of fame and celebrity but should be championed more.