Charman Prize 2019 Vanessa Turner

2019 Charman Prize

2019 Charman Prize Artist Statement

My piece, ‘Fires of Freedom‘ depicts my interpretation and exploration of the 2019 Charman Prize theme (Where the Fates May Lead Us). The piece is heavily inspired by Abbey Lincoln’s essay entitled “Who Will Revere the Black Woman” (1966).

2019 Charman Prize Artist Statement – Inspired by the words of Abbey Lincoln… Who will assuage her indignation? Who will hear her cries for dignity, restitution and salvation? Who’ll revere the ship that sailed fearfully through the turbulent seas, fighting her fate?

Charman Prize 2019 Vanessa Turner
Fires of Freedom
© Vanessa Turner
Charcoal and Mixed Media On Paper
20” x 26”
$4,950 (framed)

About Abbey Lincoln

Abbey Lincoln (born Anne Marie Wooldridge) was an African American jazz singer who produced a few albums in the 1950s and 60s. Throughout the 60s and 70s, she was a dedicated activist and strongly supported the civil rights movement. Abbey performed regularly, often combining her two pursuits. Later, throughout the 70s, Abbey underwent a significant phase of personal study and writing. Ultimately, this would inform much of the music that she was yet to write and record. In the 80s, at the age of 60, she embarked on her most fruitful period of musical output, releasing 10 albums.

About Fires of Freedom

Using influences from Lincoln’s essay, ‘Fires of Freedom‘ reflects on the experiences of black womanhood, her pain, her struggles, the injustices committed against her and the genetic trauma carried by each of her generations. These experiences, known by far too many, can be seen within the background collage of my piece.

Within the collage you will see excerpts of time and phrases which include but are not limited to:

    • “Am I next?”
    • “I’m tired of mourning my people.”
    • “Senior bailed after he denies sex assaults on school girl.”
    • “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

Also, within the piece you will see three generations of women. The women appear to look off into the distance at the world in which they live. Simultaneously, they guard an infant shown to have angle wings. They guard their future, their salvation, from fate. I will refrain from an elaborate explanation, as I would like you, the viewer, to interpret and experience the painting on your own accord.

Lastly, within my statement, I liken the black woman to the ships that sailed through the dangerous Atlantic waters fighting their fate only to become victim to the reefs that surround Bermuda’s shores. In essence, I ask how much control does one has over their future given the experiences of so many. Are we building a new destiny or following a blueprint?

You can read the full essay here: Abbey Lincoln, “Who Will Revere the Black Woman” (1966)

Where Can You See & Purchase This Piece?

This artwork will be on display and available for purchase at the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art until January 10th, 2020. I hope that you’ll make time to see it in person. You can view other works within my portfolio here.