2021
niall ashley

acrylic, oil stick and spray paint on canvas mounted on wooden supports
146.8 x 168.6 cm

we rob roadmen of their emotional intelligence and inherent femininity, replacing it with a heartless masculine monolith. the term 'roadmen' typically describes young men, drug dealing or stealing, spending long nights on the roadside to make ends meet. archetypal images of a durag-wearing, knife-wielding sentinel burn into the Londoner's visual language via the media conglomerate.

often we forget to deconstruct where this invincible front of a 'strong man' comes from - the mourning of your friend you used to kick ball with murdered at a young age, the supposed random stop and searches on your way to school and the transgenerational trauma offloaded from immigrant parents. no wonder they decide to shift packs and make some dirty money to feel as heard as the rich kids who live a few blocks down from them.

i depict this anonymous roadman with a 'girly' dress, surrounded by towering brown estates of his postcode. of course, a dress is just a piece of clothing. society is the cause for the girly descriptive, but how a stereotypically masculine man wearing a dress adds a societal blanket of softness speaks volumes. it shouldn't take binary clothing to allow empathy for a Black person wearing a puffer jacket.