Hannah Uzor is a painter and researcher exploring legacies of her own past: including personal memories of family, British Black history, and the cultural heritage the Tonga people.
Hannah Uzor is a London-based artist whose practice explores memory, history, colonial violence and diasporic subjectivity. Hannah works across a range of media, including oil, acrylic, fabrics and charcoal to create nostalgic portraits. Hannah’s evocative, atmospheric paintings serve to commemorate historical individuals racialized as Black who have had to confront racialized violence and erasure. “I’ve always been drawn to the human figure and how it can embody the stories, histories and memories that we carry with us,” Hannah explains. Her work explores various legacies of her own past: including her position in England classed as a Black Brit, and the cultural heritage the Tonga people.
Hannah started practising as an artist in 2018: affected by the recent loss of her mother, she began studying Fine Art at Morley College. Her first body of work at Morley was in relation to her father’s experience of having come to England from Zambia as a student as a personal backdrop to thinking about colonial histories. “I researched and depicted people who were racialised as Black and how their lives were negatively affected by this.” Hannah went on to complete an two-year MA in Painting at Slade School of Art, where she was awarded the Milein Cosman Scholarship for Drawing.
Her recent MA degree show at the Slade School of Art in June 2023 brought together her painting practice and her current research into the artistic traditions of the Tonga people in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Having grown up in Zambia and moved to London in ___, Hannah’s work merges the personal with the political, imagination with memory. “Every artistic depiction of the human figure signifies a specific time and social context. Translating that onto canvas is really important for me so that I can use the body as a holder for memories.” Her more melancholic and mysterious works have only an outline of the body, or a shadow cast by an absent figure. “I’m interested in using my imagination to memorialise; in these new works, loss and absence becomes a way to show how legacy can continue, registering the continuum of past, present and future.”
This year, Hannah is spending time in Zambia to finish writing her MA thesis on the cultural heritage of the Tonga and taking time to rest and reflect. She hopes later in 2023 to begin making figurative sculptures and learning ceramic techniques.
All That Remains (detail)
Sarah Forbes Bonetta
Between the doll and the scroll