Canaan Brown

The Fantastic Memoir of the Life of Lucius Alexander, A Haint

Canaan Brown  is a final year Art and Design student. His final project encapsulates the supernatural within nineteenth century London.

Art and Design - BA (Hons)

Give us a brief overview of your project

My project is a film installation centred on a fictional Black British character called Lucius Alexander. Set in nineteenth century London, and inspired by magical realism and supernatural themes, the story follows Lucius' attempt to repatriate a stolen Jamaican sculpture from the British Museum - a dangerous mission that leads him to discover a magical power within himself.

Why did you choose this concept?

I am perpetually inspired by stories that re-imagine pursuits of freedom - this year especially, I have been drawn to autobiographies and memoirs (both fictional and non-fictional) based on narratives of Black Britons who lived as free men and women in the 19th century. I am also interested in histories of plunder and looting - focusing especially on Taino Zemi sculptures stolen from Jamaica (then known as Xamayca) by British forces in the 18th century. I enjoy using fiction as a tool for engaging with stories set in real historical contexts - folklore and myth are important parts of cultural traditions that help illuminate histories, ideas, and spiritual beliefs.

What processes have you been using?

I have been using film, creative writing, and 19th century objects to create experiences that bring my creative ideas to life. I have also made my own music, which features in the film, using live coding.

What do you hope to achieve with your project?

I want to continue to re-animate legacies of cultural excellence, whilst highlighting histories of erasure, displacement, and colonialism. I hope that the project will help catalyse future work I create, across film, writing, and advancing technologies, to inspire myself and others. I want to make work that helps make society more equitable, by deepening our consciousness of how diverse histories have framed our present.

How has your course helped you to prepare for working on your project?

Art and Design has continually reminded me that my creative practice can help make society more equitable. Through an interdisciplinary approach to socially-engaged practice - spanning film, publishing, installations, advancing technologies, and more - the course has pushed me to iterate my ideas and work, having the courage to tell stories that can help make the world a better place.