Merina Beekman

Apparently not enough, again

21 March - 24 May 2009

Darkened Eyebrows Meeting in the Middle

Merina Beekman’s tender portraits of swaddled babies, young boys and girls from the Middle and Far East are a compelling combination of hand-stitched embroidery with black and white ink drawings. Her striking female figures are reminiscent of stylised 19th century Qajar court paintings of dark-eyed women with heavily drawn eyebrows that meet in the middle. 

Merina Beekman is very inspired by Central Asian traditions. “I discovered that even small children have their eyebrows blackened with an additional vertical line in the middle to prevent the beribboned baby from being stolen away by evil spirits. They, whatever 'they' may be, with their fascination for small infants, will see these black strokes on the ‘pale package', thinking ‘this is just an adult’ and so will leave it alone”.

In her considered juxtapositions of quilted designs alongside unquestioning faces, Beekman makes oblique but persuasive references about Western perceptions of the ‘Oriental’. In one drawing, it is as if a sleeping child is surrounded by not just the wall hanging of a carpet but also visually embedded in the culture to which he or she belongs. Beekman creates beautiful, arresting work in response to images of indigenous people, thereby subverting familiar visual messages about ‘the Other’.

Siobhan Wall (from a book on Merina Beekman's work, to be published in spring 2009)