Serpent of the Nile (Sejant)
C-type photograph mounted on aluminium2007
About the work
In this photograph from the series 'How Do You Want Me?' (2004-07), artist Hew Locke sits before a representation of a royal coat of arms, dressed in a ball-gown festooned with plastic flowers, baby dolls and miniature tigers. For the series, Locke dressed up and photographed himself in 14 different guises including corrupt kings, tyrants and here, as an Empress Dowager.
The figure's fantastical costume is inspired from a rich mine of sources, from Hindu gods and Catholic Madonna figures to Mexican 'Day of the Dead' imagery. Locke combines an examination of national identity, personal fantasy and socio-political caricature. The phrase 'How do you want me?' suggests that the figure can act out a character according to the audience's wishes. Locke probes western society's perception of Afro-Caribbean cultures as a mixture of exotic pleasure and menacing danger. The duality of his characters is integral to the work; whilst he plays a part, he also parodies himself.
Growing up in British Guyana, Locke was aware of the power and implicit 'branding' of the Queen's image. He was also drawn to the excesses of royal jewels and regalia, and the combination of glamour and power encapsulated by the royal family inspired this series of work.
Hew Locke was born in Edinburgh in 1959 and lived in Georgetown, Guyana from 1966 to 1980. He received his BA in Fine Art in 1988 from Falmouth College of Art and an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London, in 1994. In 2000, he received the Paul Hamlyn Award and the East International Award. He has exhibited widely and solo shows include: 'King Creole', an installation on the façade of Tate Britain, 2004; 'Hew Locke', The New Art Gallery, Walsall, 2005; and 'The Kingdom of the Blind', INIVA, London, 2008. His work is represented at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the British Museum, London; and the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds.
Hew Locke (1959 - )
- Serpent of the Nile (Sejant)
- C-type photograph mounted on aluminium
- height: 228.50 cm, width: 178.50 cm
- Purchased from Hales Gallery, March 2008
- veros on label: Hew Locke / 1/3 07
- Hales Gallery, London
- GAC number