The primary focus of Kin is people. Although there is, in these works, no direct reference to the displacement and suffering of refugees, some of the people Sula paints are displaced, struggling to survive and protect their kin. Some are also making music, tending animals, sleeping, laughing or playing as people do wherever they happen to be.
Followers of Sula’s work will be familiar with her portrayals of musicians, actors and sportsmen - people caught in moments of intensity, passion and vulnerability. She has now turned her focus to the many currently displaced people, whose lives may seem to us so remote that we cannot engage with their sufferings. Sula’s paintings remind us that these people are our kin: we are all part of humankind.
The first painting in the Kin series, a self-portrait, quotes in its title from Yeats’s poem,
A Prayer for my Son,
“Protecting, till the danger past,
With human love.”
In her paintings and drawings the people are transient figures moving though spaces she creates for them on canvas, maps or book pages. She portrays them outside, vulnerable to the sea and the sky and sometimes with mountains in the distance, carrying a sense of the distant lands from which they might have travelled. Their dignified presence is at once moving and life-affirming. There are moments of fun and pathos: children with their animals or playing despite desperate circumstances; and above all people caring for each other, recognising their kinship in adversity.