Today, as we mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day, which signalled the end of WWII, I am writing to let you know that after a quiet launch at Greenhill Arts , (Devon) last night, Hinterland is now open to the public again.

The choice of this day for the re-opening of this exhibition is no coincidence. Both VJ day, and Indonesian Independence Day on Aug. 17th, are important dates in relation to this work.

75 Years ago today (mere days after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) Imperial Japan surrendered, ending WWII. Two days later, Sukarno declared Indonesian independence, though it took the Dutch government four years of colonial war and brutal atrocities before they finally caved under international pressure and transferred sovereignty. The work in Hinterland explores how my ancestors were caught up in all this, and how unspoken their unspoken traumas have remained present throughout the generations.

The exhibition dates are 15 Aug – 26 Sept, Fridays & Saturdays only, 10am-4pm. It is hoped that the gallery will shortly be able to open during weekdays as well.

For more information: Greenhill Arts

To coincide with the opening, and to allow those of you unable to visit in person to be able to see the show, a film about the work was commissioned by Greenhill Arts.

Filming took place during the easing of lockdown by award winning photographer and filmmaker Chris Chapman. This is an entirely new venture for me, and I am not going to lie – filming has been an emotionally challenging process, but I am blown away by Chris’ ability to capture the essence of what this work means to me. My deepest gratitude to Andrea Foxwell and Chris Chapman for their incredible generosity, sensitivity, time, encouragement, hand holding, energy, passion, and belief in my work, and to all those at Greenhill Arts.

Watch the film on Youtube


I am also able to announce that over the coming weeks, I will be working with Jo Loosemore at BBC Radio Devon on a mini radio series about Hinterland. Jo was the woman responsible for the fantastic  The Listening Project on BBC Radio 4 (one of my favourite radio programmes, coincidentally), so I feel in safe hands.  More on this will be announced as the project develops.



During lock down I have started educating myself in the work of anti-racism. This work is crucial, but without a doubt it is uncomfortable, and challenging.However,  the most productive work often takes place in the most uncomfortable of spaces. I feel fortunate to have lots of people around me who are willing to engage in this topic. A group of us are working through Layla Saad’s book Me & white supremacy, meeting in a formal setting (on Zoom), as well as  informally. Both book and support group format are highly recommended. We support, question and challenge each other as we work through each week’s contents, and conversations are frank, honest, intense, and at times emotional.

To my shame and discomfort, I found that I – a bi-racial person with a pretty good understanding and knowledge of how racism and colonialism has impacted on my own ancestors – too have unconsciously held and perpetuated some of those same racist prejudices, or been complicit in them through my silence.

You may ask what this has to do with my work, or with Hinterland. When I started work on Hinterland 5 years ago, it was to process my grief at the death of my father, and to understand more of who, and what, I had lost. As the project evolved, I came to see the ancestral traumas in my family, and  the silence surrounding those traumas. I started researching the particulars of the historical events in the former Dutch East Indies that my ancestors got caught up in, and saw the ugly truth of colonialism, racism, slavery, patriarchy and war – all played out in my family line. My ancestors and I are the (great) grandchildren of Dutch men and indigenous Indonesian women. We are the children of colonialism.

Back in 2016, I could not have known the level at which making this body of work would open up new lines of personal enquiry, and the extent and depth to which I would come to question my identity, my race, and my unconsciously held beliefs. Before I started on Hinterland, I thought of myself as neither Dutch, nor Indonesian, but somewhere indefinable in between. Now I know that I am, in fact, both, and that both the oppressor and the oppressed are present within me. This is accompanied by a huge amount of inner conflict that I have absorbed and carried with me all my life, and am only just beginning to see and unpick. It is painful to admit to myself that I have unconsciously absorbed some of the colonial mindsets of my white ancestors, as well as simultaneously knowing and feeling in my own body and psyche the impact of these very mindsets on my Indonesian ancestors.

I am writing this to highlight the level of subtlety and complexity in being unconsciously complicit in racism. I have come to see that I have been a chameleon, able to lean into my relative whiteness when it benefits me (i.e. most of the time) or my Asian-ness whenever I want. This is a privilege that marginalised communities of Black, Indigenous or People of Colour simply do not have, and this is something I cannot now un-know. It is a long and confrontational process to de-condition ourselves from our inner racism and prejudices, and I am incredibly grateful for and appreciative of the resources that are, and continue to be, made available. Many of these resources are  offered by the very people who are marginalised and oppressed, I cannot ever fully know the personal cost to them of this act of generosity. This work is a learning, or rather, an un-learning. I am going to make mistakes along the way, I know this, but I hope I will have the courage, grace and honesty to admit to them.


All this has coincided with the start of a formal correspondence with fellow 3rd generation Indo artist Eric Kampherbeek. Eric lives in the Netherlands, and through his work, is looking at the legacy of colonialism with the same critical eye, and is asking himself the same uncomfortable questions about race and identity. These letters will, among other things, form part of his exhibition ‘Wij zullen verdwijnen/Kami akan hilang (We shall disappear). It feels helpful and so damn good to be able to share this complicated mix of thoughts and feelings with someone with the same bi-racial background as mine, and whose family has endured similar experiences in the same particular context.

In final related news, I have managed to trace and make contact with my long lost relatives in Indonesia, which is opening whole new lines of questioning, and is tremendously exciting. I feel very welcomed by them.

If you got this far; thanks for reading!

With love (& rage),


PS: Anti racism resources/reading list:

Me and White supremacy – Layla Saad 2020

Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire – Akala 2019

White Fragility: Why it’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism – Robin Diangelo, 2019

Why I No Longer Talk To White People About Race – Rennie Eddo-Lodge, 2018

So You Want to Talk About Race – Ijeoma Oluo, 2020

I know why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou, 1984

How To Argue With a Racist – Adam Rutherford, 2020

An interesting article and video and watch out for edge Quines online coming soon
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