top of page

Creole Portraits III: 'bringing down the flowers...'

In Creole Portraits III: “bringing down the flowers…”, the hand-coloured lithographic portraits reveal intricately braided Afro-centric hairstyles entwined within the horrific iron slave collars which were used to punish female slaves accused of inducing abortion (some of whom were forced to wear the collars until becoming pregnant again). Each portrait also displays one of thirteen ‘exotic’ botanical specimens identified as having been used for this purpose in the 18th century. Delicately hand-painted with watercolours, as was characteristic of natural history engravings of the period, each portrait is ‘named’ for one of the botanical specimens using the established Linnaeun binominal system of nomenclature of the period in tandem with each slave’s plantation name; an act which parodies the imperial taxonomical systems. This collection centers on a brief revelation gleaned in Maria Sybilla Merian’s beautifully illustrated 1705 natural history publication, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium next to her exquisite hand-coloured engraving of the “peacock flower”, (Pulcherima poincianna), where she notes that slave women she had met in Surinam had told her they were using this flowering plant’s seeds to secretly abort their children as an act of political resistance against their exploitation as ‘breeders’ of new slaves and to protest the inhumanity of slavery.

Download Bleeding & Breeding Catalogue HERE. In this catalogue, essays by Jenn Law, Alison Donnell, and Janice Cheddie discuss this body of work. Please click on images for image details.

bottom of page