I have been working with Derby Museums as of of their Interpretation producers to develop and deliver a community-engaged project over the last twelve months- This was has been a continuation of my Empowered Adornment- Gold Jewellery Stories project where I have been exploring the material memory of jewellery, adornment and how these objects are intrinsically linked to identity.
At the time when I started this role, I felt as though I was yearning for a local community that had shared experiences especially of being a person of colour (POC), as there were so many experiences I was having in insolation with no one to talk to that truly understood.
With these feelings lingering for months before I started this role, and unbeknown to me I embarked on a journey where I was working with women of colour who live locally to Derby and we were able to explore what it means to be a POC woman in this city.
Through this project, we have explored our backgrounds and experiences, shared in an open and honest safe space and learned from one another. The focus of the project was to look at what adornment meant to us as well as explore objects in the gallery that we felt connected to. Through a series of conversations we tried to make the objects feel part of the safe space we created, and explore what it meant to reclaim them and make them feel more at home in a familiar context. These conversations were so powerful, and it truly felt like we all went on a journey.
An integral part of the this project was working with Ofilaye and Sofia Yala- 2 POC photographers who explore identity through their own work. Collaborating and reflecting at points throughout the project was crucial, as well as the 3 of us contributing to the group conversations and the topics we were exploring. Seeing the project culminate in an empowering photoshoot, co-produced with each participant and their selected objects was incredible. As we created the safe space over the group conversations, we were able to create a space that felt comfortable for the participants to fully be immersive in the shoot with their chosen objects.
For me what really brought the images to life were the dialogues and conversations we were having during the shoot about how they felt in the moment and their interaction with the objects- it felt magical and a real loving act of reclamation.
I invite you to watch the documentary about the project and see the final outcome via a Zine where you will hear from the participants in their own words:EAWOD by Anisha Parmar (hover over the image for the next page arrows)
This work has been funded by the Art Fund, as part of a programme of activity across the UK, called Respond and Reimagine. Art Fund wanted to support new ideas that responded to the needs exposed by the pandemic and reimagined the work and role of arts and cultural organisations.