Memories and Patterns

Bright colours and patterns have always been something that I find myself drawn to in the work of other artists an d using them to tell a story has been a skill that I have had a hard time developing. I find that the process of making colourful tiles and turning them into a pattern very therapeutic. Particularly when the patterns themselves remind me of environments where I felt safe as a child, such as my grandparents houses as well as my childhood home. This feeling of safety is something I hope to communicate in my work.

Below is a geometric pattern I made using sugar paper, glue and photoshop made to resemble wallpaper in my grandmothers house.

Wash Weekend Memories

Following the story telling theme that I've stumbled upon, I have been thinking about other (less traumatic) memories I have concerning my hair. This has led me to think about one of the most prominent memories; the highly anticipated 'wash day', which with my hair often turned into an entire wash weekend sat on a cushion, head between mothers knees has laid all of the equipment required on the carpet in front of us. After doing a small amount of research, talking to friends and family members with afro hair I quickly learnt that this was very much a universal experience for girls (and some boys) with afro hair. 

I have produced some line drawings of the items that could be found lined up on the carpet during those wash day weekends using tracing paper and 0.2 nib fine liners.

 

 

Sketches of childhood objects

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.

Poster

My aims were to make this image look like as though it could be a real poster trying to get the reader to believe that the product itself could be found in stores. I think I achieved my aims by following the conventions of a real product. 

When designing my poster it was important for me to follow the conventions of hair product poster after I made myself aware of them, I achieved this by using questions and singular second person pronouns to make the reader feel as though they are being targeted directly by the "advertisement" and giving them a question makes them automatically think about an answer as they continue to read. I used deep and virulent colours throughout the image which are the same as the ones used on the product which not only brings the image together but sells the overall ideas of class, sophistication and luxury which is what I wanted to convey. 

I wanted it to be a  thought provoking editorial image. If i were to develop this idea further I would like to build upon the design of the product, adding witty instructions and ingredients to reinforce the satirical natural of the "product".

Research into existing posters

Looking at the type of posters attracting my target audience online and commonly found in black hair magazines. I made sure I was aware of the type of language used in the posters to address the audience, this language was often speaking directly to the reader giving them directions. When looking at the type faces used, I noticed that they tended to be thin curved lettering and always slightly different to the brand name and tag line. This speaks to the reader, telling them that this is a sophisticated feminine product. 

The imagery used in the adverts vary from having the focus be on the product or the model used but I think that having the product featured tells the potential buyer what to look for when they go to buy the product.

The backgrounds of the posters always reflect the colours used on the product themselves whether that be the just the colour of the bottle or the logo as well, this ties the image together and is something I plan to do in my poster design.

The model is often but not always making direct address to the audience, I think that the posters where the model is making direct address are more successful in drawing your eye into the image and if I where to use a model in my own campaign, I would have them make direct address. 

Logo design

I began by looking at iconic women who have used their afro hair to support or communicate their ideas to the world. I was inspired by images used of the black panther to demonstrate strength and femininity and wanted the logo to convey the same ideas. Choosing the image for the logo also quickly helped me decide what style of type face to use but if i were to revisit this, I would have liked to design my own type to accompany the image. 

Bottle Design

I've managed to narrow my bottle shape down to two options. I made the decision based on the type of bottles I look for when Im buying a new product, I look for convenience and the ability to control the amount of product I use.  

While deciding which colour combination to use, I had to think about what I wanted the product to say and the kind of people I wanted to be able to relate to it. I wanted quite powerful and feminine colours without making the product look girly or childish. I also played with the idea of using patterns but felt it might take away from text on the bottle.

Hair Shop Research

One of my aims is to make the product I design look as real as possible. I want it too not only be a way to start a conversation discussing the issues of afro hair stigmatisation, but to catch the viewers attention by looking like a product that could be found on shelves in a hair shop.

I started my research in black hair shops, looking at the product they have on eye level display (assuming these were the ones that sold best) as well as talking to the shops owners about what most people were buying. I took note of the best selling products and looked at what was working and what wasn't in terms of their ascetic. I thought about the shape of the packaging and what might be conveyed by the colours used.

Afro hair in the media

Recently at a girls school in South Africa, black girls have been penalised by members of staff for refusing to straighten their hair. In some cases the school is forcing the students to chemically strengthen their hair into a style that they deem to be acceptable as they see natural afro hair whether out or in braids as 'untidy'.

The incident quickly went viral on social media platforms and caught the attention of politicians, the Economic Freedom Fighters party accused the school of seeking “to directly suppress blackness in its aesthetics and culture”. 

 

This is the type of issue I am going to address in my project this semester. 

Protest at the school in Pretoria, SA

Protest at the school in Pretoria, SA

Project Proposal

This semester I have decided to make editorial images to be used both in print or online. Throughout my practice, I struggled with developing my own visual language. The problem mainly arose the previous semester when I was choosing images for my website, I felt none of the pieces from my previous projects looked like a professional collection of an artists work. I did however find the pieces I liked all had the same themes, focusing on ideas around identity and culture which is what I plan to develop through this project. I also aim to develop my skills in digital drawing and learn how to use new Adobe software. 

One of my gaols is to produce editorial work for magazines such as Galdem and BlackBallard which are both independently ran by and produced for young British women of colour. They both feature articles on anything on lifestyle and fashion to arts and culture. My aim for this semester is to produce work to accompany a written article commenting on the stigmatisation of natural afro hair. 

I plan to make a magazine advertisement for a satirical product which pokes fun at the idea that any hair in its natural state can be or should be viewed as “unprofessional” and stigmatised. I want to make the product itself look as real as possible to signify the reality of the issue. I will hope to achieve this by beginning to research existing afro hair care products.

Hair, Culture and Identity

Inspired by the conversations I recored at the Black Lives on Film event, I thought about looking more deeply into the relationship between cultural identity and hair within the Caribbean community in Britain. I went to an independent afro-hair salon in Bristol to talk to some women about their relationship with their hair and how they would describe their cultural identity.

Black Lives on Film- Interviews

The panel at the event consisted of actors and film makers from the shorts featured in the screening. The questions were set by myself along with other programmers and were based on facts we found as well as questions we thought would get everyone thinking. Here are some recordings I took at the event of sections that really inspired me to think about the relationship things like hair and the Black identity.

Black Lives on Film

Since the end of August, I have been involved with the curation of a film and networking event called ‘Black Lives on Film alongside the Watershed Cinema in Bristol. The event has been was included as part of the national ‘Black Star’ festival supported by the BFI (British Film Institution). The process of curating this event included the selection of the short films which were showcased at Encounters and Your Cinema, as well as the decision to showcase a question an answer panel made up of the filmmakers and actors from the films.

I was also involved in hosting networking event after the screening which involved hosting topic tables where people came to discuss the issues on the table. 

Our aims for the event was to create a safe space where our audience felt comfortableto openly discuss the representation or misrepresentation of British black culture on film and the affects that can leave on the community. Our targeted audience for this event was young people aged between15-25 and were reached by serval campaigns on across social media. 

One of the most valuable parts about programming programming and producing Black Lives on Film had to be the people I was able to work with. Everyone brought with them their own personal experiences and the discussions almost became therapeutic, and it was great knowing that we were involved in creating something that might be beneficial in the same way to others. It also made me think more about wanting to be involved in similar events in the future. 

I think if we were to do the event again it would really beneficial for it to be filmed professionally so it could be used as promotion for further events and could be added to portfolios. I would also suggest making programs to hand out the the audience so they can have all the information of the films before and after the screening, would also be good for the promotions of the films themselves. 

 

Speaking on the night

Gallery Visit | Denzil Forrester Private View

Recently I was given the opportunity to visitTramps, a venuein Islington to see a private view of Denzil Forrester’swork. One of the things that really stuck me was the limited size of the venue compared to the scale of the impactful work. One of the most stand out pieces was the Three Wicked Men. Oil on canvas, which stood 274 x 370. I found that the size of the venue and the capacity of people there placed a limitation of how you seen the work, there was no space to really step back and appreciate the scale of the work. Nevertheless, I was inspiring to see such vibrant and expressive work communicating Caribbean British live in the 80s, giving voice to the children of the Windrush generation and what they faced in their day to day lives.