Imagined Portraits — Lela Harris & Imogen Tyler in conversation

Event at Lancaster Judges Lodging Museum Lancaster, Sat 25 march – click here to book for online or in person

In 2022 Lela Harris was commissioned by The Judges’ Lodgings Museum to create a set of portraits of real Black individuals from Lancaster’s history whose given names alone we know. Imogen Tyler will discuss with artist Lela Harris the challenge of creating paintings without benefit of any visual references, using only contemporary written sources such as descriptions in contemporary advertisements for ‘runaways’ escaping enslavement.

For this unique event, The Judges’ Lodgings Museum has kindly allowed us an early viewing of one of the six portraits, which from 30 March will hang in the museum alongside portraits of those who profited from slavery, the slave trade or West Indies trade by renowned contemporary artists, including George Romney and Joseph Wright of Derby.

Lela Harris is a self-taught, Kendal-based artist who was personally selected by Alice Walker to produce illustrations for a new illustrated edition of her classic novel, The Color Purple. Imogen Tyler teaches at Lancaster University and is a member of Lancaster Black History Group, and has along with other members of the Lancaster Black history Group has been working with Lela on the historical evidence to inform this work.

Facing the Past is a collaboration between Judges’ Lodgings Museum (Lancashire County Council), Lancaster Black History Group, Lancaster University, the Institute for Black Atlantic Research at UCLan and local schools. It has been funded by Association of Independent Museums (AIM) and the Art Fund.

See BBC coverage of Lela’s exhibition here

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