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Celebrating what it means to be black and British, part 3

TALENTED: Freya Bramble-Carter

Q: Where did your interest in art begin?

A: It began at GCSE level as I realised I had a little flair for drawing. Creativity poured out of me during all those quiet moments where I desperately struggled with academia.

Q: Do you come from a particularly creative family?

A: As it happens my family are very creative. I never imagined I would follow in either of my parents footsteps but in fact my twin sister and I have done nothing but that! I wonder what that says about us…copycats!?

My father struggled initially making a living off his ceramics so in my childhood I felt I'd be a fool to repeat that, now that I have, I wouldn't have it any other way. We have a strength working together, we are happy and far from struggling now and very grateful!

Q: Who are some of the BME artists you admire?

A: I discovered Joy Miessi through a BBZ pottery class and met her and her work at another BBZ event. I saw the freedom and expression that I wanted to incorporate in my work and asked her if she'd work with me. There is something very direct in her work that I had been shying away from in fear of the label 'black art'.


Three vases by Freya Bramble-Carter

This snobbery or discrimination in the art world is bizarre, I had never seen the term be used in a helpful manner to me, which is why I used to shy away from heavy cultural matters in my work.

Q: What does it mean to be British to you?

A: I'm British because I was born and grew up in London in the U.K. Perhaps compared to some other places, there is a mentality of freedom in London and being able to achieve your own goals no matter what your circumstances are.

However, I still experience people moving away from me on the tube. Sometimes I feel hurt being British, sometimes I wished I came from a place where everyone looked like me and often wonder how that would feel.

Q: When did you begin to come to terms with your dual identity as a British and BME woman?

A: It feels like quite a unique position to be in! And being a black minority seems to consume a lot of my thinking from day to day, increasingly so with the theatre of politics - it is never put to rest.

I grew up in a boarding school where it was normal for other kids to make jokes about black people. But I've always lived in a small flat in inner city London. There was a stark contrast in the mono culture of the countryside and multicultural hotpot of London, it was dynamic and refreshing! In the end I was desperate to be among black people and different cultures.

The strength I get from practising and maintaining a positive mental health is very important in being BME.

Q: Was there an initial struggle for you, dealing with identity as a black British woman?


Joy Miessi and Freya Bramble-Carter

A: I remember when I was 16 years old, finishing boarding school I knew I was going to stay in London, to go to the Brit school and be submerged amongst every type of person you could image and so much talent. It was great until black kids would say, you’re more white though...you don't sound black – that’s when the confusion struck me.

Why I should I be confused about my identity? But still it's strange going to family christenings and I'm asked 5 times how I know the family- I am the family. It's quite frustrating feeling displaced so often.

Read the final instalment of Celebrating what it means to be black and British, Friday 14 July at 9pm

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