I am an artist printmaker currently living in Edinburgh where I am a member of Edinburgh Printmakers.
When I was 21 my first proper job was as a primary school teacher in Brixton, at this time I lived in Waterloo. I later moved to Bradford to work in teacher education and then Edinburgh to work in special education.
At the start of the coronavirus crisis in the UK I very quickly became aware that BAME people in the NHS had unfeasibly high fatality rates. I subsequently discovered this was true for other frontline workers, e.g. bus drivers, care assistants and taxi drivers. Due to coronavirus Edinburgh Printmakers is closed, so I made the plates at home and printed them on my dining room table with a small die-cutting press.
Details:- Each facemask is a handprinted collagraph/drypoint print. 30cmx11cm. To obtain these prints I made an acrylic drypoint plate of each person – this is a sad process as I am absolutely aware that these are not statistics, these were people and will be sorely grieved by their families and friends. I inked the plate with black ink and burnished it clean. At the same time I rolled blue ink onto a facemask, I placed the face drypoint plate on top of the facemask plate and put dampened paper on them both and put it through the press.
I contacted a good friend Elaine Thomas who spoke with the Canon Giles Goddard of St Johns Church Waterloo London and Euchar Gravina the organiser of Waterloo Festival. They were happy to install "Discarded" in the newly opened Lady Chapel St Johns Church 73 Waterloo Rd London SE1 8TY. The images were installed on the 17th of June and are expected to stay there for at least another 2 weeks. I have printed a second set if anybody else would like to install Discarded in an appropriate setting.
See link to website https://www.waterloofestival.com/post/discarded-an-installation-in-remembrance-of-bame-frontline-workers
Nurses, doctors, carers, drivers, shop workers, ambulance drivers . . . essential workers.
Discarded, dead as the result of lack of PPE, lack of care.
Disproportionally immigrants, blacks, Asians . . . discarded.
This installation consists of 50 prints of facemasks with images of named BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) individuals who have contracted coronavirus working in frontline services such as the NHS, care homes, shops and buses and who have died as a result. These are combined with a further 10 facemasks with ‘I can’t breathe’ printed across them.
The prints are simply scattered on the floor as if they had been discarded. They can even be walked upon, mirroring the treatment given to these people whilst they were alive and the continuing treatment of BAME people.
All these images were taken from the public domain – most of them from articles in the Guardian written by Sarah Marsh.
I am not solely a landscape artist. I have recently started engaging in conceptual art. I have decided to post these experiences on the website starting with Just the clothes on their back: Bear witness. an installation responding to Warsan Shires's poem Home.
Just the clothes on their backs: bear witness
In July 2019 I responded to a combined call from Edinburgh Printmakers and Cork Printmakers . I proposed a washing line to be hung in the mezzanine void at Edinburgh Printmakers. Pegged on this washing line panels of silk fluttering in the moving air. Full size images of clothing printed on the panels, on the clothing - images of migration.
This installation is a response to Warsan Shire’s poem Home. Warsan starts her poem with “No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark”. She concludes no-one leaves home unless ANYWHERE else is safer.
Many migrants travel with “just the clothes on their backs”. Imagine these clothes could talk – what could they tell us. This installation “bears witness” to what the clothes have seen. All hung on a washing line which itself is an image of home.
The images of migration have come from memories of iconic media images which I have remodelled with the help of my family – as rememberers, photographers and models.
Silk is diaphanous. The resultant images float in the air and are sometimes muted, by design, these are memories that are difficult to deal with, the viewer needs to approach the work and look more carefully to see the evidence.
My installation was accepted to be part of an exhibition at Cork Printmakers which has been delayed by Covid 19 and other circumstances, currently due for exhibition in 2021.
A ladies cardigan bearing witness to a refugee camp in Lesbos. Drypoint printed on silk.
A boy's t shirt bearing witness to a father and child drowned in a river attempting a crossing of the Mexican border. Drypoint printed on silk.
A babygro bearing witness to the plight of babies and children crossing the Mediterranean. Drypoint printed on silk.
Man’s shirt bearing witness to October 2019 when 39 migrants died in the back of a refrigerated truck – a coffin lorry people laid flowers as tributes – 39 bouquets for 39 young lives. Drypoint printed on silk.
The pants bear witness to “14 men between your legs” a quote from Warsan Shire’s poem. Highlighting the experience of rape and abuse suffered by migrants. Drypoint printed on silk.