Holly Graham Carefully Cleansed of Labour and Softened by Cooking
Carefully Cleansed of Labour and Softened by Cooking continues Holly Graham’s exploration of histories and legacies of sugar, industry and slavery. This new work responds to the histories of industry rooted in the area surrounding the Old Kent Road.
The exhibited works take as their starting point a pair of Meissen porcelain sweetmeat bowls held within the Victoria and Albert Museum’s collection. These were made between 1765-75 and would have, at the time of their production, been considered an artisanal, luxury good, symbolizing the wealth and status of their owner. Visually, they each depict turfy mounds which prop up bowls to hold sugar or sweetened dried fruits, which are in turn flanked by caricatured ‘blackamoor’ figures who gesture towards the food products in the bowls in front of them. These are part of a wider tradition of similar figurines that embody, and silently testify to, financial gain through processes of colonial exploitation. Holly is interested in how the narratives embodied by these objects are tied together with localised histories of industry rooted in the area surrounding Compressor.