This painting was inspired by a friend of the painter and represents the personal journey of this young woman as she explored her roots and the nature of her identity. The clothing in the painting, a sari, scarf and a dress all belonged to the subject of the piece, a British-born Asian woman, living in the North East of England. The sari and scarf are juxtaposed with the dress which is 1950's in style, a reference to the decade during which the family migrated from East Africa to the U.K. The sari is partially obscured by layers of paint and other materials, representing the many changes the family went through as they adjusted to life in Britain.
Val Close studied in Britain and the U.S.A., at Syracuse University, New York. She has exhibited in solo shows and group exhibitions all over the world. She has work in important collections in Britain, USA, Europe and Australia. Her use of gaudy and 'kitsch' imagery relates back to her childhood as well as to her later experience working as a shop front display artist. The overt figuration of her early works, of which this painting is a good example, came directly from her experience as artist in residence with the Northumbrian Police. The themes then were possessions and materialism; these are still her abiding preoccupations. Val Close's work can be read on a number of different levels. Her work contains contemporary narratives and illustrates her fascination for exploring and decoding a tapestry of rich images, from the banal to the exotic, the obscure to the kitsch. Val has a history of collecting in one form or another, carefully appropriating her own chosen materials and detritus and storing it so that she may eventually use if for a particular purpose.