An Interview with Artist Jasmine Coe

When did you begin painting and why?

I’ve always been interested in Art. I went to Art school at Bath Spa completing a Fine Art Degree where I specialised in Portraiture. I’ve always had an interest in people and the human figure. For my Degree show I painted a group of my friends and decided to include a self-portrait at the last minute. This was the first self-portrait that I had painted and I struggled with it. It happened that all my friends I had chosen to paint were all of Caucasian heritage. This was one of the first times where I had to consciously recognise my darker skin by using a darker pallet. I had to be honest with myself and not try to deny or hide my heritage, something that I felt made me different to everyone else.

I grew up in London with my Mother and a white British family. As my father was absent, I didn’t have the input of my Aboriginal heritage or culture. Race and self-identity is something I have always struggled with. There are deeper meanings within that self-portrait that at the time of painting, I wasn’t ready to face or share. I was in total denial about who I was, choosing to look outwards at others, instead of looking inwards and discovering a Wiradjuri woman and a British woman. It is now my personal healing to internally harmonise both these heritages. This is why I paint today, to connect to and understand who I really am.