Russell and Robert meet British artist Charmaine Watkiss to explore the themes and inspirations behind her first solo exhibition at Tiwani Contemporary in London. The Seed Keepers (2021) is a new series of drawings that fuse Watkiss' interests in botany, herbalism, ecology, history, and Afrofuturism. Researching the medicinal and psychical capabilities of plants, Watkiss has personified a matrilineal pantheon of plant warriors safeguarding and facilitating cross-generational knowledge and empowerment.
The show consists of a body of entirely new works on paper and explores the use of full colour - a first for Watkiss. The drawings of women in luminal spaces along with her ‘plant warriors’ have a mystical quality which exist outside our linear time and space. The natural world is at the forefront of most of our imaginations right now; and this show explores narratives around ancient plant knowledge and its relationship to women of African descent.
Charmaine Watkiss’ practice addresses themes including diaspora, ritual, tradition, ancestry, and cosmology. In the past, she has explored the usage of blue stemming from her research into the long history of indigo including its production on the plantations of colonial America and Caribbean and sacred use in ancient African cultures, particularly with reference to the funerary rites, spiritual beliefs, and cosmologies of West African and ancient Egyptian cultures. She draws connections between ancient tradition, knowledge, and our lives - asking what role ritual and its practice plays in contemporary experience.
Charmaine Watkiss lives and works in London. She holds a MA in Drawing, from UAL Wimbledon College of Art (2018). Recent exhibitions include RA Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2021); To the Edge of Time, KU Leuven Libraries, Belgium (2021); Breakfast Under The Tree, Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate (2021); Me, Myself and I, Collyer Bristow Gallery (2020); Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize (2019), Wimbledon College of Art MA Degree Show (2018); Against Static (Curated by Tania Kovats), Wimbledon Space (2018).
Follow @MsWatkiss on Instagram and her website https://charmainewatkiss.com/ Visit the gallery on Instagram too at @TiwaniContemporary. Charmaine's new exhibition 'The Seed Keepers' runs til 5th December 2021. View images at Tiwani Contemporary's official website: https://www.tiwani.co.uk/exhibitions/64-charmaine-watkiss-the-seed-keepers/overview/
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