Sikelela Owen paints the people that give her a sense of belonging, ranging from family and friends to other Londoners in her community. It is a human landscape, the kind that is reproduced endlessly online to the point that such images start to lose their value. In the era of digital excess, Sikelela uses painting to capture something more meaningful and lasting. It lends a sense of substance to the imagery of others.
BIG SISTER resonates with a photo from a family album, and indeed the image is based on Sikelela’s extended family. It depicts an older sister cradling her younger sister. All extraneous details of the setting or the specific characters are removed, so what remains is the essence of relationships captured in paint: vulnerability, protectiveness, and physical closeness. The figures are shown as if cocooned in a pure ethereal space suggested by the soft cream palette.