Regret & Recognition
Family portrait c.1988
Even poor people have house plants
I didn’t fit in and they knew it
An awkward reflection
The title of this work is a reference to a quote from the South African writer Herman Charles Bosman, who said ‘Alive, you couldn’t go wrong in distinguishing between a white man and a black man. Dead, you had great difficulty in telling them apart.’
Acting as a metaphor for the way people are judged by their colour, it prefaces a series of images that re-create childhood memories shared by myself and my half-sister, who is of mixed race. In this work, the biological realism between half-siblings provides a narrative that plays out in a changing landscape of emotions — an unstable relationship from the past shaped by racial, familial and political divide.
By exploring family secrets and notions of identity and race, I hope to express a feeling of regret and offer a form of apology to my half-sister; in the hope that we can find a point of mutual understanding, where differences are acknowledged and a new, shared experience is created.