The British Dream
Ballpoint pen & collage, 210 X 297 mm
In the western world we are all too familiar with the notion of “the American dream”, but for many immigrants Great Britain is also representative of a land of true opportunity.
This ballpoint pen portrait depicts my grandmother drawn on an 1866 geography text, with authentic Sierra Leone fabric collaged in the background to further contextualise the subject. Immigrating to England from the tumultuous socio-political tensions of early civil war Sierra Leone in the mid-90s provided my grandmother with immense hope, which is captured by the emotive expression of wonder shown in the portrait.
As a mixed raced Muslim woman moving to Great Britain at this time, my grandmother would have been unaware that she would largely be seen as an outsider. Unwithering in the face of adversity and prejudice, she would ultimately fulfil her dream of prospering in the United Kingdom. This work looks to pay homage to the strength of one of my family’s matriarchs, leaving her homeland to join her family in a country where they were afforded greater opportunities through perseverance, whilst maintaining pride in her identity.