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Peter Braithwaite – Rediscovering Black Portraiture

The Higgins Bedford

During the first lockdown in 2020, with all his performances cancelled Bedford based baritone, artist, broadcaster and writer Peter Brathwaite began researching and reimagining more than 100 artworks featuring portraits of Black sitters, as part of the online #GettyMuseumChallenge to use household objects to restage famous paintings.

This FREE exhibition stretches across The Higgins: in the Victorian House are interventions of Caribbean dolls as well as new interpretation of objects already on display. In the Dressing Room are Peter’s reimagined artworks alongside personal reflections and in the Collectors Gallery is Peter’s recreation of ‘The Paston Treasure’.

The seventeenth century painting depicts the treasures acquired during the Norfolk based Paston family’s travels including tropical fruit, exotic animals, priceless curiosities, and an exquisitely clothed Black man. Peter writes that the mans depiction ‘represents a process of being dehumanized twice over – first as a piece of property, and then again because this scene is so far removed from his actual reality’. Using his own belongings to recreate the painting, Peter asks what it means to take up space as a Black man as well as to open up a conversation on objects and subjects in paintings on display in museums.

The exhibition runs from 18th May 2024 until January 2025.

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