This project, supported by Arts Council England, began in February 2020 and comprised a residency at Bromley House Library, Nottingham (UK) and a collaboration with Broadway’s Near Now studio for arts, design and innovation and Loughborough University’s printmaking workshop.

 

Drawn to Bromley House’s collection of 19th century travelling books, Céline’s research focused on illustrations depicting scenes of African nature. Remaining untouched until recently, the collection presents titles, text and illustrations of a difficult and sensitive nature, highlighting the need to address the status of these books and, more widely, opening up the question of de/colonisation.

 

Céline and Library Director, Melanie Duffill-Jeffs, created a platform to discuss these issues with Library users and members of the public. Two fellow artists were invited to contribute to Céline’s reflection on her subject matter, sharing their own work in public workshops at the Library: Rebecca Beinart with ‘Yams, hormones and bioprospecting: from Buffelskloof to Beeston’ and Ioney Smallhorne with ‘Herstory: Jamaica and Her Daughters’. Musician Tom Harris was commissioned to create a collaborative music piece in response to Céline’s creative process.

As the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted the project, the events following the death of George Floyd came to add matter and depth to the work and emphasise the necessity of reflection and action, to acknowledge and address the ongoing racial inequalities that are prevalent in our society.

 

Drawing on her personal responses to the research process and life events and experiences, Céline has produced artwork that moves across the realms of cultural history, personal narrative and the collective unconscious. She has created a series of booklets, which contain printed drawings, botanical prints, articles extract, words and images, a music piece and Augmented Reality experiences.

 

She invites the viewer to engage with this thought-provoking, immersive work, encouraging them to consider historic and personal themes and issues, within a fast changing cultural and political landscape.

© 2021 by Céline Siani Djiakoua

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