watercolour illustration of man stitched together, half his body with white skin and blonde hair. The other half with black skin and dark hair, looking at his own hands in contemplation.
Illustration’s from “Thought Experiment” 2021

One of the main themes that kept coming to mind creating “Thought Experiment 2021” was the feeling of being unbalanced, like I was living in the past and future but just drifting in the present. Which is where the design for the central character of the piece came from. Being split down the middle half his body being black and the other white. Which also related to my own mixed black Caribbean and white European background. To me being mixraced Is both a balance of two things, but also feels unbalanced in the fact that the word “half” is used to describe me, suggesting I’m not fully anything. I don’t personally find this offensive, just interesting (I intend to explore this more in my follow up piece over the next month). Elsewhere in the artwork another character is half black and half white and quite literally stitched together, referencing Frankensteins monster. Which I always felt was such a perfect character that’s aged so well in terms of identity and question whether we are how people see us, how we see ourselves, what it says about society of how the “monster” is treated. And I was always inspired by artists taking a conceptual idea and turning it to an extreme literal idea, the same way Frankenstein is exploring the concept of identity, then literally making the main character made up of different people. This almost cartoony comical exaggerated approach is something I love to explore throughout my work. This central character I created felt to embody the uncertainty I felt at the time. He is depicted above frozen in contemplation holding a broom, referencing the way I was using my craft like a groundskeeper to tidy my state of mind and the mess of notes and doodles that would spill across the finished artwork. 

Decretive mask from childhood hung on wall.

Above can also be seen a photo I took of a mask that has hung in my home as long as I can remember. I have vivd memories of me and my older brother being both fascinated and frightened by it as children. It’s burned into my memory as one of my earliest experiences of something evoking so many emotions at once. From curiosity and wonder to terror and playfulness. This became the face of the opposition to the central character in the artwork. I created this shapeshifting mask character as a reminding symbol of how I want my artwork to feel (the world through the eyes of a child). In the artwork it’s both a guide of what I want my own art to feel like. But also an obstacle and opposition in terms of the fear of never being able to reach that goal, or even worse having already peaked as an artist. At the time I was always in competition with myself and every time I finished a piece was met with this weight of anxiety of never being able to create something as good as the last thing I had done. Doomed to repeat myself with watered down versions of what I had already done. These characters feel more personal every time I draw them, and their story will continue in the next artwork I’ll be creating over the next month. 

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