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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

Drawing Lora

Lora Krasteva is one of my MA research participants and a close friend of mine in Sheffield. I asked her to send me some photographs from projects she has worked on as an artist and theatre producer as well as a coach.

Lora's parents are Bulgarian and she was born there before moving to Tunisia and Spain as a child. Her parents sent her to a french-speaking school, so she speaks 4 languages fluently. She went to university in France and London before moving up to Sheffield with her partner. She has worked for NGOs including Arts and Homelessness International before becoming a freelance artist and theatre producer. I met her through the Sheffield Creative Guild (which has since, sadly gone bust) when she was working on her 'Becoming British' project at Sheffield Theatres. She has also qualified as a coach and this first sketch I made of her was from a photograph of her during a coaching session.

Lora recently gained British citizenship (the process which inspired her project) and I wanted to explore this issue of "transferring" citizenship through my MA research project on intersectional identity - now that she has the right to vote in UK elections does this make her feel more British - has it changed her identity in any way? I made these three sketches in ink, pencil and purple chalk - Lora has asked me to use the following colours to represent her identity; hot pink and purple, neon yellow and black. Bold choices for a bold personality! The third sketch on the right hand side was based on a photograph of us (I am the outlined figure on the right) at my Brexiles exhibition open night - where she performed her 'Becoming British' monologue.

This sketch was based on a photograph from Lora's performance, which I watched at the University of Sheffield's Festival of the Mind. The project was called 'Social Fronteers' and she was working on the project as an artist and responding to the issue of conflict and integration in deprived communities. I really love working from these "unposed" photographs where the figure is focussing on an activity rather than looking at the camera.

This pencil sketch was based on a photograph from another project, 'The People's Palace of Possibilities' which took place in Rotherham. Lora's performance involved cooking peppers in a traditional, Bulgarian way for the local community. I think of all the sketches this one best captured her demeanour, personality and character.

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