Lakwena Maciver, one of the UK’s most exciting contemporary black artists, creates painted prayers and meditations, which respond to and re-appropriate elements of popular culture. Central to her practice are words, used both as images and as anchors of meaning.
Exploring the role of the artist as myth-maker, her paintings act as a means of decolonisation, subtly subverting prevailing mythologies. The approach is instinctive and autodidactic, producing visceral, rhythmic and immersive panel paintings, iconic murals and installations.
Lakwena’s most recent body of work, exhibited for the first time at Hastings Contemporary, focuses on the interplay between her practices as both artist and mother of two young sons. Responding to feminist author bell hooks’ essay Homeplace (a site of resistance), and in the tradition of African women across the diaspora, Lakwena has been painting the walls of her home to create a space of affirmation, empowerment and resistance upon which will sit her panel paintings.
Challenging both the external and the internalised voice of mass media, Lakwena has created works in the public realm internationally, from installations at Tate Britain, Somerset House, Facebook and the Southbank Centre in London, to a juvenile detention centre in Arkansas, a monastery in Vienna, and the Bowery Wall in New York City.
Lakwena says “What’s this exhibition about? Well, it’s about me ‘singing over’ my home, my family, my community. I’m an artist and a mother, and I guess I’m looking at where those two roles cross over. My art is concerned with mythologies; things we hold to be true, and I want to tell the truth to my kids. I know that they go out into the big wide world and I can’t control what happens out there. They’ll hear things and be influenced by things that I have no control over. But I can ensure that in my home I am sending them clear messages about who they are, their value, their worth, what to do in times of need, where to go to for help, what to set their hearts on, what is important. So that’s what these paintings are about. They contain words of affirmation, words that will encourage, warn and inspire. My intention is to create a safe space. As these paintings and images of them travel, literally and virtually, my hope is that they might act as sparks to encourage others to define spaces of safety, and also as signs to point people to places of safety”.