Artist Profile: Ingrid Pollard

2 February 2021

Ingrid Pollard’s work Pastoral Interlude No.4 and Pastoral Interlude No. 5 are currently included in the National Partners Programme exhibition My name is not Refugee at Firstsite, Colchester. Due to government guidelines, the gallery is closed to the public but the exhibition will be accessible to view online via a new 360˚ virtual walkthrough.

 

Ingird Pollard is a photographer, media artist and researcher. Born in Georgetown, Guyana, she grew up in London. Early in her career, she worked at a women’s screen printing collective and was part of a group of British artists who championed black creative practice. Since starting to work as an artist in the 1980s, Pollard has developed a social practice that investigates representation, history and landscape with reference to race, difference and the materiality of lens-based media work. She has an ongoing interest in the English landscape and coastline, and through her combination of photography and printmaking, she questions the hidden histories of the rural, its colonial relationship to Africa and the Carribean, as well as the notions of home and belonging.

 

In the series of photographs Pastoral Interlude, the artist reflects on her experience of being a black British woman in the English countryside. Britain has been traditionally represented by images of a picturesque rural scene: rolling green hills, sheep dotted across a valley or fields of golden wheat. In these idyllic scenes that offer a quiet and calm, natural repose, there is also the understanding that the British rural areas embody overwhelming whiteness. 

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The photographic series captures Pollard in the epitome of authentic rural Britain, the Lake District, taking part in outdoor activities such as rambling and fishing. The staged images are juxtaposed with texts referring to the history of black people in Britain, specifically the history of slavery and colonism. The combination of image and text reveals the feelings of alienation and ‘otherness’ Black people often experience in rural areas. As Pollard says of the work: “It's as if the black experience is only lived within an urban environment. I thought I liked the Lake District, where I wandered lonely as a black face in a sea of white. A visit to the countryside is always accompanied by a feeling of unease, dread.

 

Pollard also states “In England there’s a very specific way of viewing the rural, with land ownership, and the colonial aspect of Britain where they went around clearing land. It’s a long, complicated history. People later came from overseas seeking opportunity in England, but it’s the repercussions of colonialism, and the way it has affected particular countries, that people are feeling now.

Pollard’s photographic investigations of the black experience of the British countryside are shown alongside other works displaying visions of natural scenes such as by David Nash, Graham GussinMargaret Fisher ProutHubert WellingtonElise Few and Zarina Bhimji. The curators of the exhibition chose these works from the Arts Council Collection for how they touch on notions of home, what it means to find new connections in a different place, and visions of the British landscape they had before arriving in the UK.

 

 

My name is not Refugee has been curated by Elizabeth Curry, Münevver Gülsen Ülker, Samia, Diego Robirosa and Mr and Mrs Al-Chahin, working together with many more clients and volunteers from Refugee Action-Colchester. 

The exhibition is on view from 3 December 2020 - 6 June 2021 at Firstsite, Colchester as part of the National Partners Programme.

Arts Council Collection: Artist Profile: Ingrid Pollard
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The Arts Council Collection is the UK's most widely seen collection of modern and contemporary art.

With more than 8,000 works by over 2,000 artists, it can be seen in exhibitions and public displays across the country and beyond. This website offers unprecedented access to the Collection, and information about each work can be found on this site.