Shanielle Monangai

MA Fine Art

My artist practice Studio Gai explores the state of culture, ethnicity and heritage within society, and the Black cultural representations – the aesthetics of absence or presence, lost and found. Expanding and exploring identities within relations between national and cultural identity of an African- Black Brit. This is used as the foundation of theoretical and critical views of social-political and cultural issues.

Black British Identity and African heritage are explored with use of reworked adaptations of traditional African textiles and patterns alongside the use of coffee to highlight the transatlantic export trade of Africa to the world. Using the created Gai Alphabet and coffee as visual symbols reinforcing aspects of narrative in reflection of identity, ethnicity and fragility within Black heritage, society, culture and aesthetic.

Within the artwork and studio practice of Studio Gai the written visual element is the created alphabet that stems from the visual vertical aesthetic inspiration of Egyptian hieroglyphics. The hieroglyphic inspired language of Gai alphabet is a created alphabet with symbols that unintentionally but interestingly enough can be depicted from multiple cultures. The use of coffee within the artwork is an important element of the practice, almost a sense of seizing back one’s identity and cultural beginning. The artwork and practice can be broken down into five elements- 1. Gai Alphabet 2. Colour and Coffee 3. Fragility 4. The Story 5. Auntie. The text used within the artwork if taken the time to depict tells a point in the story of the first female slave book published in Britain- ‘The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave’ published in 1831.