Faye Claridge will bring her Village Green Screen to Hereford this February, examining the controversial use of face paint to create the distinctive Border Morris dancing ‘blackface’ style. The project, commissioned by West Midlands arts organisation Meadow Artsbegan life at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival last summer and will be shown as a work in progress, designed to gather views from visitors
“In August Morris dancers using blackface were banned from a UK festival for the first time and I created #VillageGreenScreen to explore the social, personal and political background for, and implications of, that decision.
My roots in this go back a long way, being from a Morris dancing family and camping at my first festival at one-day-old, so I grew up with the dominant narrative that black face paint in Morris dancing is purely for disguise, potentially with links to mining, with no connection to racial representation. When one of my Morris portraits was used for a Tate Modern conference, I was challenged in this and decided to seek out definitive evidence.
My research has taken me to Morocco (home of ‘Moorish’ dancing) and New York (birthplace of black and white minstrelsy) in addition to seeking input from the Stuart Hall Library, living artists, The National Caribbean Heritage Centre, the Museum of British Folklore and the main Morris dance societies.”
Meadow Arts is an Arts Award Supporter. You can see their profile here.