Diving for pearls

I watched this video about August Sander’s photograph of “Three farmers on the way to a dance”. It was revealing, beyond the fact that none of them were actually farmers. I was pleased that it was possible to trace the three men and not only discover two were miners and the third worked in the mine’s office, but research also revealed what happened after the photograph was taken. Two survived the first world war, one did not. Another thing that was compelling about the short film was although John Green is at pains to talk about the facts of the …

Dispatches from the Woodpile

For one reason or another I recently found myself getting my ducks in a row about making photographs of transracially adopted people. At the root was the simple wish to make voices like mine heard because I think we have some interesting information that might illuminate some of the febrile discussion around race. I also wanted the excuse to write about two of my favorite films: The Watermelon Man by Melvin Van Peebles and The Uncle by Desmond Davis. Both of these movies are about individuals who have and identity imposed upon them by external interests and in both cases …

Not at all Somali, apparently.

You don’t look Somali

I get this quite a bit. Never from Somalis, they have a habit of going oh yeah, you got this or that and point to things about my face that they have. One woman once and grinning broadly grabbed me by the chin and rubbed the top of my forehead and said what else could you possibly be. But I was buying “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race”. And I got into a conversation about it with the sales person who had read it and thought it was really great and when I mentioned my dark …

Kiri

So last night I sat down to watch Kiri. Early on, very early on, a young girl who is about to be transracially adopted is being taken to see her grandparents on an unsupervised visit by her kind of empathetic but clearly signposted as problematic, social worker. The visit has been set up not least because her soon to be adoptive parents are white and her grandparents are black and, as the potential adoptee knows, colour is a thing. Cool I think. This is a character who can voice those things I know and people I know also know them …

Posh frock from the 1950s

The Dress

I love this dress.  I’m not sure quite how I got it, but at some point in the early 80s my mother finally despaired of ever fitting into a slew of my grandma’s 1950s designer frocks from Isabel of Birmingham and handed them over to me.  They were all beautifully designed and well made stylish things for events that people just don’t have any more, like luncheon or canasta with supper.  I had them taken in and wore a few of them to destruction.  This one was a particular favorite, it’s been to at least two weddings,  parties in London, …

Selfie

Little Races

I’ve been sitting on this forever.  I have wanted to make work about the experiences of transracial adoptees but I’ve been shy and unconfident and full of excuses why I should not do it and lazy, I’m prepared to admit that I am capable of lazyness, just not very good at it because I am also a high achiever when it comes to feeling guilty about lying on the sofa watching daytime TV. Anyhoo, I got made redundant at the end of July from a parody employer.  I sat about plotting revenge for a while and then I thought fuckit, …

Me and my brothers

This isn’t a suntan and I haven’t been on holiday

So I got my first “You’ve got a lovely suntan” of  June yesterday. The person who asked me realised half way through that she was asking a potentially problematic question and veered off into the world of holidays and sunshine, but the damage was done. It didn’t help that I was at an opening and the people I was with had been at the sauce for a while so their I’m going to pretend I don’t know how much that pisses Tina off faces didn’t quite coalesce fast enough for my new friend to not catch it and start looking …