London-based artist Charmaine Watkiss celebrates the resilience and wisdom of Caribbean women across generations in her show The Wisdom Tree at Leeds Art Gallery. The display is part of the Jamaica Society Leeds’ Out of Many Festival which marks 60 years of Jamaican Independence.
Watkiss’ oeuvre consists of very skilfully done, delicate, large-scale drawings in pencil, but also in watercolour, wax, ink and crayons, where close attention is paid to the pattern and minimalist compositions of the pieces. The Wisdom Tree is her first institutional solo show.
The artist herself says of her practice as creating “stories primarily through research connected to the African Caribbean diaspora” and then realising them through life-sized figures. Her interest in rituals, herbalism, alchemy and memory in all its forms and imperfections informs the work, and as well as the larger scale pieces, the exhibition also includes Watkiss’ notebooks and more private artworks, providing a glimpse into her process.