2023, watercolour and gouache on handmade wasli paper, 15 panels: 64 x 88cm each (irreg.)
JAHAJINS/SHIP-SISTERS, made up of wasli panels,tells a fragmented story of the experience of indenture for Indian women on the sugar colonies. By stripping away the stereotypical imagery of the plantation landscape, colonial figures or men, focus is brought to the the relationships formed between the women, showing their complexity and fullness as friends, lovers, and individuals – beyond just their agricultural/domestic labour and the narratives of the colonial archive. Traditionally Miniature painting within South Asia focuses on privileged persons both in terms of gender, caste, class and colourism. Simpson’s use the style of Miniature painting centres casteless Coolie women bringing their history onto the page and allowing their history to be accounted for. In this act audiences are critically asked to think about these women, and where their place exists in the archive? In centering these stories Simpson asks the archive to account for her family’s history. Simpsons work seeks to acknowledge interconnected histories, looking at the experiences of Indian women indentured on sugar plantation/the sugar colonies, broader experiences, not just in South Africa, but to plantations in South Africa, Mauritius, the Caribbean colonies, and Fiji.