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Shadow Figures

I began this series of paintings when I reached a certain age where the clothes I adored and which had previously witnessed all the dramatic moments of my life with me, were no longer appropriate.

I was painting an homage to the dresses that had carried me into my stories.  As the paintings evolved, two of the dresses became personalities and took off into a world of their own. They began to cross paths with other empty clothes, paths that led them into other stories and other lives;  they became the observers of daily life, of history, of 'the other'. The conviction deepened.

The silent recognition of people around you making judgements on the meeting of a face.  Remove the face and what you have is a timeless, race-less, religion free human being who is just like yourself.  Little information is needed to indicate  the integrity of a human being.  A gesture, the sweep of drapery, the shimmer of a movement, of colour, the drama explored in the composition.  You don't need a face to relate to a real person.  They are easily recognisable by the suit or dress in front of you.  What is more, you recognise the drama of their relationships with each other and more so because they are devoid of the political or racial identification that the face and skin can signify.

For me these empty clothes throw up questions not only about my own history, but about the eternal terrors that people fleeing oppressive or fanatical governments are faced with.  As much as societies are aware of how counter productive and instinctively blind their violent reactions towards 'the other' are, ascribing humanity to 'the other' is profoundly complex and difficult.

These works are meant to interrupt the culturally inbuilt politicisation of 'the other'.  The characters could very well be people we know; they could be ourselves.  The story is universal both in time and place.  It is an exploration of the cultural limitations that control responses in the face of 'the other' and more particularly, it refers to the violent reactions towards the crisis that beset our world today.

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