Farida Coates is drawn to different cultures and traditions. For her, a nations’ character is the most fascinating aspect of any country. What they do, how they behave, their dress, their beliefs and customs, have always been a constant source of inspiration.

Coates tries to capture the diverse gamut of emotions that can chase across an individual’s face. A glance or a tilt of the head can convey warmth and intimacy on the one hand or distance and reserve on the other. Capturing the range and degree of emotion communicated through facial expression helps us empathise with the subject. We “read” their faces. We sense that there is a story behind their expressions that begs to be told.

In The Piano by the Lake, we see from the back a young girl playing the piano watched by her friend and mother; or is that a jealous sister and maybe an elder relative. Once you start imagining the varying possible relationships between the figures the story expands, the imagination frees itself!

My Hat is a portrait of a young girl from Peru. The joy and pride with which she displays one of the most iconic pieces of headwear in the world is self-evident. Happiness radiates from her infectious grin.

Farida Coates’ Strangers We Meet, Friends We Makewill be on view at the Alternator from July 12 to August 3, 2019.