In my presentation at the ‘Politics of Beauty Conference’ at Cambridge in the summer of 2016 , I reflected on my personal experience of Jamaica and Jamaican society focusing on the correlation between status/value and the fairness of skin. As in so many postcolonial states the obsession with “fairness” is intrinsic to so many notions of beauty evidenced by markets flooded with skin lightening products across the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.
During my research on Trevor Owen I noted the references from the designer to illustrator George Rizzo the representation of the women depicted wearing his clothes be rendered more African-esque. This may be a nod to the period in Jamaican history shortly after independence where Black Power and African pride had a brief period of advantage or in recognition of his own family history. This, along with images of his sister Jackie was the inspiration for work ‘Overlooked & Underreported [which focuses on the invisibility of women’s achievements] and the basis for the Wallpaper.