I find art fascinating. Ever since my early teens I have been inspired by the manga comics I read and the anime animations I watched. I would find myself drawing constantly, whilst at school and in my spare time: pages upon pages of illustration.

Personally, I am particularly interested is portraiture and the way this has developed over the course of time. Taking the rich, highly symbolic portraits of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and comparing them to contemporary portraits, they may appear worlds apart. Much of Rossetti’s work is based on mythology and well known fictional women; something I have always found intriguing. I find it fascinating that many of these women were multi-faceted and were not all strictly heroines, it shows a much more complex view of femininity and presentation of women as a whole. I enjoy being able to analyse his pieces and decode the many symbols within it, within his painting Proserpine this is certainly the case.


Proserpine 1874

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)


In Proserpine Rossetti depicts the Roman goddess who was said to be confined in the underworld as punishment for indulging in the forbidden fruit. This is reminiscent of certain biblical stories. I have a keen interest in history and theology so this aspect of Rossetti’s work really appeals to me.

I know a lot of people find themselves unable to connect with a piece of art and see it as something distant or are not convinced of its importance. Many people view art as something of the past: oil paintings and delicate watercolours which are hanging on the walls of galleries. Often they may not see themselves represented within art, with the lack of diversity in creative fields perhaps contributing to this. They may feel alienated and unable to find pieces that they truly connect with.

Speaking from personal experience I used to find connecting to art difficult as well, as I didn’t see many Muslim women of colour represented. The more diverse campaigns in fashion and even in comic books, with the introduction of Ms Marvel featuring a female Pakistani superhero for instance, have made a positive impact on me and countless others. I am really embracing the fact that the industry is making moves to be more inclusive and diverse in its approach.

Art represents our world, past and present, the good and the bad, and it does not shy away from addressing what may be difficult. That is precisely why I believe it is so valuable and will only continue to develop as we, as societies do.

Rumaanah Seedat, blogger and member of The Girl Gang, a community of bloggers who open a weekly Twitter chat at #thegirlgang


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