The 'only black girl in a white school' narrative

Recently I had to give a presentation of my projects ideas and development so far. In it, I spoke about personal experiences that I've had regarding my hair in institutions. I shared a story of when I was in secondary school and the only black member of staff (at the time) took it upon herself to tell me that I wasn't allowed to wrap my hair as it looked 'untidy' and was not part of the school uniform. This was on top of being one of the only 8  GOC (girls of colour) in my entire year group which had already made me the automatically start to see myself as different to the majority of my peers. 


As I've made my way through further education, being the only black girl in my class/year group has become very much the norm for me and I am aware that I am not alone in the 'black girl in a white school' narrative that I have become accustomed to. I have decided to illustrate this story in the style of a school portrait using the colours of my school and expressive lines. 

I think it was a good decision to use negative space as the colours are really important to locating the story and using line didn't allow the colours to stand out. I think to develop this further I might try to add textures. 

Here you can see how I generated the  images to illustrate my personal hair story, and how I found  ways to include colours from my secondary schools logo to my sketches. I wanted to keep the image simple so I stuck to three colours but struggled to find a warm brown for the skin tone.

Parys Gardener

I’m a Bristolian studying illustration and visual communication in London and I like to base my work around both everyday experiences as well as documenting  my journey through life as a black woman of Jamaican decent. I’m interested in identity, sociology and culture and work across a range of mediums.