This body of work presents images of female warriors from the British Isles during the time of the Roman invasion and colonialism. These women are Celts, Druids, Picts, Gauls and Britons. The working name is Parallax. The meaning of the word is the effect whereby the position or direction of an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions. Our vantage point determines how we see the world at large, ourselves, and the other. The idea of marginalization and otherness is predicated on the premise that there is a centre in societal construct.
With the underpinning of decolonization, my aim is to encourage the viewer to think about the implications of colonization on the Indigenous people of their own homelands and apply this toward consideration of how we look to reforms concerning the Native inhabitants of this country, Canada/Turtle Island. I began to explore ideas around supporting the rights of Indigenous people in Canada, but felt, as a settler, this was not my story to tell. I queried how I could be an ally without being patronizing. I considered my deep connection with England, feeling completely at home when I first arrived and later when I lived there. I thought how I have a home country, land and culture that I can return too. Canada, however, is the home of the Indigenous people here. This is their land, with no other place to go home to. We have pushed them off their land, lied to them, did not honour our promises and treaties, abducted, abused and murdered their children, and continue to vilify them in our hospitals, courts and communities.
I chose not to tell their stories because respectfully I did not feel it was mine to tell but I considered how I could create parallels to my own heritage through the colonialism of the Roman Empire in the British Isles. The history books look to this time as a positive period for the people where Rome brought roads, currency, Christianity and urban centres to the isle. Did we consider how these ‘improvements’ were considered by the people living there? One needs to consider that these changes were enacted through the devastation, murder, rape and pillaging of small villages. We hear stories of Boudica, a Celtic Queen, who avenged the rape of her daughters by organizing the disparate tribes and taking London. (I have painted her as part of this series)
The Romans wrote about the Celtic people and created depictions of them, in the Roman style of the time. These became the reference and inspiration of the series. The drawings were of naked women, with long flowing hair, covered in tattoos, brandishing spears. Celtic women could choose to be trained as warriors, who often trained warriors themselves. Life for Celtic women in the British Isles was much different from that of their Roman counterparts. They could be educated in religion, own and inherit property, maintain their own finances, have a role in politics, and seek judgment for crimes against them. These women, who are described below, did not submit to the ‘improvements’ the Romans brought but fought fiercely to defend the land, life and culture that belonged to them.