Helena Neimann Erikstrup is an RHS Marshall Fellow, held jointly with the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. Helena is a fourth-year DPhil student in History of Art at the University of Oxford. Her thesis ‘The Colours of Martinique: The (Re)making of the Modern Subject in French-Caribbean Art, 1847-1930’ focuses on visual representations of race and ecology made in Martinique as vital sites in which French national identity was negotiated in the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century, a period in which the definition of being, and not being, French was redefined. It looks at understudied visual material of lesser-known or completely unknown, sometimes ‘amateur’, artists alongside work of a canonical artist such as Paul Gauguin.
Considering these artists in a relational, non-hierarchical way, Helena’s research examines their experimentation with different colour palettes to reassert racial and environmental control of Martinique in the decades following the abolition of slavery in 1848. The thesis uses colour (as a pigment, a racial marker and visual effect) as the main prism through which engage with the work and the questions they ask.