Thicker than water (within the depths of limbo)
Medium: Oil Paint
Size: 152 x 127cm (unframed)
My work continuously surrounds the theme of identity. I am exploring how to portray my heritage and celebrate my cultural ancestry through painting. My great grandmother immigrated to the countryside after marrying a British solider. She originally lived in hong kong. My ancestors came from a small island in the Azores called São Jorge then moved to china. My Family were Macanese. Macanese is different to the Macau people and there have been many political moves to cover up the Macanese group and the separate names but none of these bills have passed.
The work has also been influenced by Shane McCrae’s poetry book ‘sometimes I never suffered’ which alludes to mixed heritage and ethnicity effecting ones out look on the world and how one navigates it. This navigation feeling like a state of purgatory, neither belonging to either worlds entirely. My painting presents a half submerged women, the water acting as a metaphor for being caught between two worlds. The source imagery is not a portrait but however comes from family photography, collaging an accumulation of family members features.
The face is made up of a variety of aspects from family photos. The head shape is copied from a reference photo I took of myself. The lips influenced by my great grandmothers sister, my grandad and the pointed bottom lip from my mother. The nose bridge is mine but the bottom of the nose is influenced by photos of my great grandmother. The eyes originally in the sketch were mine and overall the figure looked like pictures of my great grandmother In photos from her twenties. However in the painting I changed the eyes to be of my brothers instead of mine and this effect disappeared. I don’t think this is a negative or positive thing it’s just what happened. The eyebrows are inspired my by mothers yet also include a slit that my cousin has because of a scar, I just included the slit. The headline points in the middle in the same way my mothers does and finally I included both my cousins moles. The model is supposed to mimic the writing of Shane McCrae and the idea of navigating mixed heritage feeling like a state of purgatory, the figure is literally stuck between two worlds with the water cutting at her mouth. This idea of being stuck between is something many members of my family can relate to. I have had multiple conversations with my mother where she has mentioned feeling out of place most of her life then she started to research our history and asked her grandmother questions of our heritage.
The link to our background is important for us to accept and understand where we are now. Because of this I used outlines of são Jorge a Portuguese island which my family originated from. I drew outlines of the island from multiple angles onto 9 prints of the image to test the best composition and amount of detail needed. The coastal lines are a reference back to roots yet the model is still stuck between it as if literally being caught between the lines.