Charmaine Watkiss: The Wisdom Tree

27 May-30 Oct 2022


The Wisdom Tree is Charmaine Watkiss's first solo exhibition in a public gallery and part of the Jamaica Society Leeds Out of Many Festival which marks 60 years of Jamaican independence from Britain. The exhibition showcases recent work made between 2018 - 2021 including Watkiss's signature large-scale drawings on paper as well as more private artworks and notebooks.

Generations of women from the African Caribbean diaspora are celebrated, and among the works on show are They Didn't Come to Stay and Facing the Wind which are a moving homage to the Windrush generation and their stories of life in the UK. The Alchemy of Self and Threshold Guardian of Light and Truth speak about the herbs they used for healing - traditions brought with them from the Caribbean.

Also on display is The Return, a drawing which includes hand-made indigo watercolour which examines the poignant symbolism of the indigo pigment and how it was produced by enslaved plantation workers.

The exhibition reflects the artist's interests in herbalism, alchemy and history, as well as the medicinal and physical capabilities of plants and flowers. Her drawn figures explore the wisdom, strength and resilience of women from the diaspora across generations and notions of belonging, place, adaptation, resistance and survival.

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