Pandemic Collection (2021)
Definition of Colourism
Prejudice or discrimination against individuals with dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.
Differential treatment based on skin colour, especially favouritism toward those with a lighter skin tone and mistreatment or exclusion of those with a darker skin tone, typically of the same racial group or ethnicity.
It’s safe to say that 2020/2021 has been an unbelievable and life changing year for all of us. I was planning my first solo exhibition in 2020 to showcase my debut collection 'This is Me'. Plans were underway and I was beyond excited. That all changed when we were suddenly all on lockdown due to a virus that ravished the world overnight. That was life changing enough, but the worldwide Black Lives Matter protest for equality and justice for murder victims at the hands of the police, affected our lives in a different way, uniting different people and races from all over the world, but also opened up wounds that are still yet to heal.
Racial injustice protests were happening all over the world and the phrase “Black Lives Matter” was on everyone’s lips and social media pages. I was happy to see that long overdue conversations about racism and the inequalities and injustices faced by black people in society, were finally taking place, not just in the media, but in homes and amongst friends all over the world. As an artist, I felt inspired and a responsibility to produce work that highlighted race, colour and acceptance.
The development of this collection went through so many different stages, I was as usual creating pieces that showed black people in a more positive, beautiful and powerful light, but I felt it wasn’t enough. Yes, we have issues born of racism that we face daily in society, preventing us from living safe and equal lives, but a personal incident happened that made me realise that we had another issue to raise and that is Colourism and we can’t end racism until we first end Colourism.
Black women and especially dark skinned Black women are the most unappreciated, unrepresented, misunderstood and disrespected humans in society and it saddens me that we also suffer this discrimination in our own community. On the other side of this issue, is the discrimination experienced by biracial men and women, often seen as not black enough and also suffer from exclusion in their community.
The skin bleaching industry is worth a staggering £7.2b and Black women and men continue to go through dangerous and life threatening lengths to change the colour of their skin. We go from dark chocolate to a colour 3-5 times lighter in shade than our natural colour, with the use of illegal chemicals and creams, all to fit into the Western ideology of beauty.
My new collection simply titled 'Colourism', explores this sad reality and invites you to see the beauty in all skin tones. Each art piece is collaged using different features and skin tone from different women. The images are then set in the foreground of vibrant, exotic wallpaper backgrounds that highlight the beauty in nature, to represent the beauty in us all regardless of our skin tone.
Fashion, jewellery and textures are again a main feature in my art, as is the hairstyles and head-wear adorning the models, which are very much part of a Black woman’s identity.
I hope this collection and the questions it poses about Colourism helps you start your own conversations about skin tone. Does skin tone prejudice exist in your circle? Have you experienced it? How can we begin to heal ourselves from this negative bias?