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Black Women Deserve To See Themselves In British Art

When searching for entertainment, certain disciplines of visual art often appear as unfamiliar territory to the wandering eye. Unlike the more celebrated industries of music or film, many people, myself included, are not used to seeing themselves as subjects of portraiture in mainstream art. Some of the most famous paintings – Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Johannes Veneer’s The Girl with The Pearl Earring – are all held as bastions of visual art, their subjects being all European women configured by European men. Therefore, being twice removed in identity from these creators – i.e. both black and woman – makes for a critical viewpoint when analysing these creations.

It wasn’t until early 2017 that I embarked on what I consider to be my journey into the art world. At the time, I was contacted by Black British Bristolian artist Parys Gardener, an illustration student who had illustrated a painting inspired by a poem I published on my blog – which to this day is my greatest flattery. Soon enough, I recognised that there was a lack of representation of black women’s art in mainstream exhibitions and galleries. Alternatively, social media served as a scattered domicile for black women to popularise their work and so I scoped tags on Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram for faces that looked like my own in their prints.