Surrey County Council Art Award 2005
In 2005 I received the Surrey County Council Art Award for my research and canvases depicting the sociological impact of consumerisation and globalisation.
The project explored 'vanishing cultures,' a topic of interest to me, highlighting the gradual effacement of a strong cultural identity and connection to history, retained most significantly by members of indigenous communities. The project initially evolved as a result of my seeing some students at school getting tattoos depicting Japanese calligraphy without understanding its meaning, their only concern was that it was perceived as a mark of social status. After researching the significance of tattoos and other cultural emblems in certain societies, I realised that their meaning was lost when adopted by another society. I began exploring "vanishing cultures," a topic already of interest to me as a result of my subscription to the National Geographic magazine. I wanted to highlight the gradual effacement of a strong cultural identity and connection to history, retained most significantly by members of indigenous communities. My project aimed to resist a generic modern culture, whilst maintaining a dialogue between diverging communities and their personal histories.
The final piece aimed to project a future without these cultures and the loss of their knowledge; it depicted a barren and drought devastated environment, akin to a photographic negative. Without the knowledge specific to a particular location, all significance is lost to the interpreter and that knowledge vanishes. The Tatak ng Alon ('wave imprint' in Filipino) that is running off Katherine's arm represents the gradual disappearance of that history when appropriated without an understanding of the said culture.
The final paintings were displayed at Howard of Effingham School from 2005 until 2012.
You can read more about this project, and the UN's 'International Day of the World's Indigeneous Peoples' in Charlotte's blog post, 'Preserving Vanishing Cultures Through Art.'