A Dundee-trained artist has opened a new exhibition in the city’s Slessor Gardens as part of the wider Scottish Black Lives Matter Mural Trail
DJCAD graduate Sekai Machache, 31, has produced 16 portraits of black people in Scotland wearing facemasks made of brightly-coloured African cloth.
Her work – part of the wider Scottish Black Lives Matter Mural Trail – takes aim at “systemic racism that people do not think about” during the coronavirus pandemic.
She said: “I wanted to highlight the vulnerability that black people have to this virus. It is not something that is because of some strange genetic anomaly that makes black people more likely to catch it. It is due to systemic disparities within the health system.”
The impact of coronavirus on Scotland’s ethnic minority communities is being scrutinised by an expert group after data from Public Health England suggested people of black ethnicities had between a 10% and 50% higher risk of death when compared to the white population in the UK.
The Slessor Gardens exhibition, called a BREAdTH apart, advocates the importance of wearing face masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19 while highlighting the relationship “between systemic racism and healthcare.”
Sekai, who grew up in Glasgow and has recently moved to Edinburgh, spent the last 12 years living, studying and working in Dundee, achieving two degrees at the city’s internationally-acclaimed art school.
She took many of the photos that appear in her new exhibition at the Black Lives Matter protest on Magdalen Green in July and is aware of how her work fits with how the movement has played out in the city and surrounding communities.
She cites the destruction of the Dundee mural of George Floyd, whose death at the hands of US police officers sparked worldwide protests, as evidence the city has the same kinds of problems with race as other parts of Scotland.
She said: “It is just a feature of life when you are a black person. You experience racism wherever you go.
“I feel excited to share my work. I feel that this is an opportunity to raise awareness and speak on other elements of systemic racism that people may not be aware of, such as around healthcare and Covid-19.”
Edinburgh-based producer Wezi Mhura, a specialist in large scale events, conceived The Scottish Black Lives Matter Mural Trail.
The trail is supported by Scotland’s leading venues and arts organisations including Edinburgh International Festival, Queen’s Hall Edinburgh, Glasgow’s King’s Theatre and Theatre Royal.
Dundee REP and Scottish Dance Theatre support the project in Dundee.
The exhibition runs from September 18 to October 30, taking in Black History Month.