Back to My Roots, and back to my roots

Dates of event: 23 Jul 2024 - 29 Aug 2024 Mon - Thu, Daily Opening Time: 10:00am - Daily Closing Time: 5:00pm

Venue Address: The Window Gallery, City Arts, 11-13 Hockley, Nottingham, NG1 1FH

Promotional poster for the exhibition 'Back to My Roots, and back to my roots' by Laura Decorum. The poster features an abstract painting of two faces with swirling patterns and earthy tones. The text at the top includes 'CITY ARTS' on the left and 'RESIDENCE' on the right. The exhibition details at the bottom read: '23 July - 29 Aug 2024, Mon - Thu, 10AM - 5PM. An exhibition by Laura Decorum. The Window Gallery, City Arts, NG1 1FH'.

An exhibition of five portraits in oil painted by Nottingham-based contemporary surrealist artist Laura Decorum. They explore the artist’s family history and they challenge oil painting’s historic role in immortalising the affluence and influence of the elites. Laura has been supported through City Arts’ RESIDENCE project.

The artist explains her journey with the work:

For the past 10 years I have been painting in spray paints and acrylic. This body of work gave me the ability to paint in oils, as I had throughout my childhood, whilst peeling back layers of my cultural ancestry.

My aim with the work was to represent people of colour. I was inspired by my visits to various galleries, where I observed a scarcity of positive portrayals and an abundance of negative depictions, especially of enslaved individuals. With part of my ancestry tracing back to Barbados, historically the first slave society, I felt a profound need to transform this narrative.

An abstract painting of a person wearing a hat and a blue and white striped shirt. The face is composed of swirling, earthy-toned shapes that create a complex and expressive portrait. The background features a vibrant sky with dramatic clouds and lush greenery.
Prince William Griffith
An abstract painting of a person with a wide, joyful smile. The face is formed from intricate, swirling shapes in earthy tones, with ribbons of blue winding through the hair. The background is a gradient of yellow and green, adding to the vibrant and dynamic feel of the artwork.
The Joy of Destruction

With the support of RESIDENCE, I embarked on an exploration of my family tree using Ancestry.com and 23andMe. These paintings are the culmination of my quest to understand my cultural identity. They offer brief glimpses into the lives of my ancestors, honouring their achievements, journeys and experiences.

I had no photographic references for my ancestors, so I relied on intuitive brushstrokes and information gathered from libraries and churches to conjure these images. As my search for answers deepened, my journey evolved into something I sought to protect. I chose to subtly nod to the lives of those who have shaped my own, rather than fully expose their stories. Through this collection, I honour my lineage and invite viewers to reflect on the rich, complex history of people of colour.


City Arts’ RESIDENCE project supports marginalised Nottingham artists. These are artists who’ve faced barriers in their careers because of attitudes to their class, ethnicity, and/or disability. The project offers time, space, mentoring, and a bursary to artists. It allows them to develop their art. It connects them with arts organisations across the city. This opens up new prospects for their future work.

Each RESIDENCE opportunity is designed with a panel of Community Curators. The curators are local people with a range of different backgrounds and relevant lived experiences. The panel also select which artists we award the bursary to.