Artist challenges inequality in the arts with Pyramid residency
Pyramid Arts Centre has opened its doors to an impressive young artist in residence who is taking the industry by storm by challenging racial and gender inequality in the arts.
Warrington artist Tina Ramos Ekongo is the latest creative practitioner to join forces with arts charity Culture Warrington and take up a residency in the iconic Palmyra Square venue.
The 33-year-old artist began working with Culture Warrington after her successful entry into the 2020 Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival Open Competition.
Now, she has taken up studio space in Pyramid Arts Centre, where the powerful and eye-catching work she is creating is already capturing the attention of fans on social media, in addition to visitors to Warrington Museum & Library’s pop-up base in Golden Square, where prints of her work is currently on sale.
Tina said: “Working in Pyramid is such a wonderful environment for me to creative, it’s so inspiring and great to be working closely with other artists.
“The feedback I’ve received from my work so far has been fantastic and I can’t wait to share further work as my project develops.”
Taking inspiration from the pioneering British Black Art Movement in the 1980s, Tina’s thought-provoking new project presents a “clash” of cultural identity, reimagining British queens as her artistic heroines, with a vibrant splash of African royalty mixed in.
Tina, who is originally from Equatorial Guinea, explained: “The artists of the British Black Art Movement were a really important part of black feminism, which is a really big part of my work.
“In tribute to these pioneering women, I’m turning these artists into historical figures, painting each one as Elizabeth I, and then maybe different queens such as Elizabeth II or Queen Victoria.”
Tina continued: “Being female and being black means you are probably going to have people saying “you’re not good enough”, or “you’re not able to” and I bet people said that to these queens too.
“Another important thing to consider as well is that during colonial times, these queens ruled over black women. I wanted to turn that on its head and make these black women the queens and combine the clothing in the original paintings with the traditional colours and jewellery of African monarchs.”
This striking concept has undoubtedly captured the attention of art lovers across Warrington and beyond, but also brings home a pertinent and important message about inequality in the creative industries.
Leah Biddle, culture manager for Culture Warrington, is thrilled to be working with Tina and helping raise awareness of inequality and underrepresentation in the arts.
She said: “The British Black Art Movement was a real trailblazer in the 80s but we are still so far away from achieving the equality and opportunities these inspiring women were calling for back then.
“However, we are so privileged to be working with another empowered, black, female artist – Tina Ramos Ekongo – who is bringing this powerful and critical campaign into a new generation with incredible grace and undeniable talent.”
As popularity for Tina’s work goes from strength to strength, gaining followers on social media and clocking up sales in the Pop-Up Museum & Art Gallery, Culture Warrington is eager to explore further opportunities for collaboration and to help Tina shape a future of inclusivity in the arts.