'Empire' by Sarah Maple
Sarah Maple is creating a series of paintings that explore the complex role of the British Empire in the construction of Modern British culture and identity. Sarah's work often draws on her own mixed background and in this piece, she is particularly interested in looking at her family's history of migrating to Britain as a result of colonialism.
In the 1950s, her Grandfather travelled from India to work on the railways in a British colony in Kenya. In exchange he was granted a British passport and when political trouble arose in Kenya in the 1960s, he came to Britain with his young family and settled in Birmingham.
‘At present it feels like we are having a global identity crisis. People all over the world are expressing the desire to ‘take back control’ of their countries. With the increase of migration in the west, there appears to be a feeling of nostalgia or loss of national identity. In some cases these feelings are beginning to manifest themselves in unpleasant ways. With recent coverage of 70 years since partition, this sparked my interest in the impact of the British Empire. It interests me that much of the diversity that is problematic to some, in fact has a direct link to our history. I think to understand our identity today, we need to understand the part Britain has played globally, especially our colonial past and how the wealth gained has formed the foundations of modern Britain. I think if we fail to understand the complex factors that have contributed to Modern Britain, this is where it sows doubt as to who gets to call it home. To recognise this and to let the world in, could be a way to make a start on how to live in our divided nation.’
This project is supported by the Arts Council.
SARAH MAPLE is an award winning visual artist known for bold, mischievous and occasionally controversial artworks that challenge notions of identity, religion and the status quo. She has exhibited at the Royal Academy (London), Tate Britain (London), New Art Exchange (Nottingham) and Golden Thread Gallery (Belfast) and has recently been awarded with a Sky Academy Arts scholarship.