Artist Scarlett Crawford has been appointed by the UK Parliament for a new project entitled First Waves: Exploring the impact of race relations legislation in the UK. Over the course of her residency, she will work with six partner organisations across the country – including the University of Leeds and the Glasgow Women’s Library – to create artworks with local communities that explore and celebrate the 1965, 1968 and 1976 Race Relations Acts.
The artworks will be displayed in Parliament for an exhibition in 2019 which will look at the impact of race relations legislation and the stories of the people who fought for change, before being returned to the communities that inspired them. Upon completing the residency, Scarlett will be invited to present a proposal, based on her research and experiences, for an artwork for permanent display in the Houses of Parliament and inclusion in the Parliamentary Art Collection.
Scarlett Crawford is a British artist who is passionate about equality and diversity in the arts and education and has worked as an artist and educator within the community and creative industries for the past 10 years.
Her photographic work examines the semiotics of race and class and uses lens-based media to create images that try to portray narratives of the underrepresented, without reinforcing their position as ‘Other’.
She makes images that juxtapose object, person and place in participatory constructed portraiture that is both jarring and surreal, blurring the lines between fact and fiction, stage and document. As a qualified teacher, she has worked in schools, pupil referral units and youth offending services.
One of the key objectives of this community focussed project is to capture the voices of generations who have been directly impacted by the Race Relations Acts, but who may have had little opportunity to have their voices heard in Westminster. It is hoped that engaging the British public with the work of Parliament will, in turn, strengthen national and regional engagement with democracy.
Scarlett will also delve into the Parliamentary Archives and meet with parliamentarians and social historians as part of her residency. She said:
“I’m really excited to have been chosen to creatively explore the impact of race relations legislation across the country. Working in collaboration with local communities I hope to discover the unheard stories of those who were affected by the changes, to honour the contributions of those who led the way, and to inspire future generations of people from all backgrounds to engage with art and politics.”
The Race Relations Act 1965 was the first piece of legislation in the UK to address the prohibition of racial discrimination and followed previously unsuccessful bills. The Act banned racial discrimination in public places and made the promotion of hatred on the grounds of ‘colour, race, or ethnic or national origins’ an offence.