Born in 1994, Yasmin Nicholas grew up and lives in North West London. She is third generation Caribbean (Dominican and St Lucian descent) however with the major influence from her grandparents originating from Dominica, she has embraced the culture strongly. As a child, she enjoyed poetry and art however took it seriously into her work, within her college years. Graduating in BA Fine Art at Middlesex University, Hendon in 2015.
Nicholas’ work consists of a mixed media including poetry, painting and sewing, accounts of daily life, drawing attention to particular experiences of identity, race and diaspora relating to being a part of Caribbean culture. She is interested in elaborated on any type of medium besides books, on paper or spoken aloud to articulate her work.
Of her work featured in this exhibition, Nicholas says “These three pieces of art all have one thing in common: a sense of home, as a few of these works were actually in my Finding Home show back in September 2018, in that sentiment alone. In the diaspora, we are in different places but we all have a similar home to each other. You can consider ‘home’ in the sense of language, ‘Home’ can have many meanings including a physical setting, such as a house, migration, exploring culture and a metaphorical and psychological one, as well as finding oneself and one’s tongue (language).“
Sequence To A Dream (Film)
The film, Sequence to a Dream revolves around a person’s conscience; a cross between dream and reality and a deep look into identity and culture, in this case the artist’s subconscious exploration of her Caribbean identity. The poem created and narrated by the artist explains the artist’s want to explore the diaspora and her heritage. This still from the film captures the spirit of three ancestors in their own rhythm on a housing estate in Kennington, London as they visit the artist to help her develop understandings of self identity and subsequently the importance of self, as they grant her gifts.
Offering (from the Finding HomeSeries)
This particular piece from, ‘Finding Home’, named ‘Offering’ show the model in pose as if to leap to offer the metaphor of breadfruit to the other ancestors. This piece alone signifies our desire for identity and knowledge within the African diaspora, the breadfruit: the metaphor used so much in Nicholas’ work to symbolise knowledge of self.
‘Theory’, painting and text on canvas 2017
‘Theory’ is a passage of text and poetry in which describes a variety of theories of a migrants life. The small painting in the middle is a peep hole into a different life, it is the theoretical wonderment for what life could have been if the artist’s grandparents had not migrated from Dominica to Britain. Questions are asked about identity and the searching of this place in which she believes her soul is settled in. Not only does the piece move in a circular motion of frustration and want for the artist but it is a keyhole into what lies in the imagination, it makes the audience question heritage and migrant life whether it relates to them or not, the love for culture and fulfillment in one’s journeys.
In addition to the influence of linguistic identities, Nicholas also uses a play on language including the fusion of the ‘dominant’ language of English and the ‘domestic’ language of Kwéyòl which is spoken in various Caribbean countries including Dominica and St Lucia. Artist Influences include Wadsworth Jarrell, Shirin Neshat, Glenn Ligon and Keith Piper, with the aesthetic use between the two languages, she focuses on on how to expand the perimeter of what is a ‘dominant’ or ‘domestic’ language through art with poetry and literature and change the attitudes towards what a structural language is, a re-representation of these languages.
In recent years Nicholas has exhibited her work at various venues in London including the Elizabeth James Gallery in 2018 and the Biscuit Factory in 2019.
The Social Performance Network is delighted to be hosting Yasmin Nicholas in this virtual exhibition that offers a nuanced reframing of identity, diaspora, and belonging. Follow Yasmin Nicholas on Instagram or visit her website to remain connected with her work.
Video and stills courtesy of the artist.