Fikayo Adebajo, String figures — a thousand tethered knots between you and me, 2022, photograph, Courtesy the artist.
Tilda Scarlett, Weaving Room, 2022, weaving on second-hand furniture, H: 106cm, W: approx. 200cm, D: approx. 150cm. Photo: Courtesy the artist.
Julia Dèng Hànzú, Concurrent Tuning Intervals, performance, Photo: Courtesy Shiting Yang.
18 August - 31 December 2023
Galleries 5 & 6
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‘A thread is both a connecting force leading us from one thing to the next and a material from which something is yet to be made. It can help us re-imagine and reconfigure our relationships with one another and the time and space we inhabit’ – MA Student, MA in Curating Art and Public Programmes
Explore thread as a method and metaphor for connection, collaboration and conversation in this exhibition curated by the 2023 cohort of Whitechapel Gallery and LSBU’s MA in Curating Art and Public Programmes.
Starting with a selection of works from artists who interpret thread as a central theme within their work, this exhibition also ties together the outcomes from a series of workshops and performances which invited public participation in the run-up to the opening of the project, centering collaboration at the core of the exhibition.
Spend time reading zines from an artist-curated library, or delve deeper into the subject matter of the show through audio clips and interactive, finger-knitting activities.
Find out more about the show here.
It All Starts With a Thread is curated by Caroline Ip, Dearbhla Hanney, Erin Saunders, Eva Williams, Jane Ross, Melika Rafiei, Nastia Svarevska, Nicola Cosford, Rebecca Russell and Yulia.i.
Bella May Howard is a London-based artist and Central Saint Martins graduate whose practice revolves around the written word, exploring its performative and intimate nature. The artist’s practice spans various mediums, including film, photography, and sound. Her works delve into the realm of narrative, both on a philosophical and personal level, exploring themes such as embodiment and auto-fiction. The delicate outcomes she creates aim to establish a connection with the viewer, speaking to them in a candid and sensitive manner.
In addition to her visual works, she has also ventured into publishing, with works featured in Raid.r and The Posthumanist, as well as self-publishing multiple works that serve as a direct channel from creator to consumer. By fostering this personal connection, Howard allows for the experience of embodied performance to flow between artist and observer, creating a profound exchange of thoughts and emotions.
Through this artistic process, Bella May Howard’s work echoes the intimacy of writing itself, forming a complete circuit of viewing. Her aim is to evoke a sense of closeness, inviting the audience to participate in the shared exploration of intimacy and offering an immersive experience that transcends traditional boundaries of storytelling.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner is an art collective formed in 2019 by Katerina Mimikou, Inés Cardó, Sophie Dickson and Jessie Evans, which runs workshops promoting playful or even mundane creative acts for wellbeing.
Fikayo Adebajo is an artist, sociologist and magical realist whose work is realised through photography, set design, installation, and public programming. The Yoruba worldsense is a guiding principle in her integration of mind, body and soul in transforming the practice of image-making into an embodied, material and networked process. The concept of “ori inu”, centres intuition, community and journeys towards chosen destiny as ways of knowing and moving through the world. Thus, she considers photographed sitters co-creators of new realities. Together, they forge new visual languages that ask us to cultivate an Otherwise Gaze – a gaze beginning from intimate, interior and interpersonal points of connection branching forward in multiple directions. In this way, she presents a methodology for finding joy in seeing and being seen, in moving slowly, in sharing space, and in simply being beyond the burden of representation.
Highlights of past exhibitions include “A Brief History of Love in VII Acts”, in Repair Redux at Hypha Studios (2023); “Re:Repair, Barbican Center (2022)”; “Embodied”, Slash Arts (2022); “Regenerate, Barbican Center (2021)”, “Where is South”, Tate Modern (2019)” “New World (Dis)orders, London School of Economics (2019)
She is currently working in Public Programmes across Tate Modern and Britain.
GUT FEELING is a writing feedback group that started in August 2022. Since its inception, the group has met fortnightly on weekday evenings around London. Co-facilitated by Ella Monnerat and Bella Aleksandrova, the group follows a peer-led approach. Outside of the core feedback sessions, GUT FEELING runs zine-making workshops.
Julia Dèng Hànzú, proudly graduated from MA Design: Expanded Practice at Goldsmiths, University of London, is a multi-media artist/experimental musician who hates to be strictly defined. Born in Chongqing, China, she has had exhibitions and performances across continents in London, Shanghai, Wuhan, Chongqing, Hainan, Berlin, Huddersfield etc.
With mixed educational backgrounds in arts, economics and science subjects, she draws inspiration from different disciplines, personal experiences, both western and eastern cultures. Her works, often adopting an explorative or border-eliminating attitude, include but are not limited to the form of performances, installations, music/sound pieces, moving/still images and texts, while “nature” and “emotion” are recurring themes.
The influence of past traditional Chinese music training can also be seen in many of her practices. Recently, she has been exploring some improvisation/extended techniques of Pipa, Guzheng, Ruan and other plucked string instruments and combining their sonics with field recordings, synths and electronic/interactive systems.
Katarzyna Perlak is a Polish born artist, based in London whose practice employs video, performance, textiles, sculpture and installation. Perlak’s work examines potentiality of affect as a tool for registering and archiving both present continuous and past historical moments. Perlak background is in Philosophy, which she studied in Poland and Fine Art Media that she has studied in UK (Camberwell College of Arts and Slade School of Fine Art. She was part of the Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2017, and shows in the UK and internationally, including: Diaspora Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennial, Art Night London, Jerwood Arts (SURVEY II), Leslie – Lohman Museum of Arts (NYC), The One Archive (LA), 2nd Brent Biennial London and 2019 Detroit Art Week (USA).
Through her work Perlak employs a notion of ‘tender crafts’, exploring how crafts (heritage and traditions) can be revisited and re-imagined from contemporary feminist, queer and diasporic (migrant) perspectives. She engages ‘affective truths’ such as myths, tales, dreams, desires, collective memories, and seek to problematise how history is written and traditions are represented. By questioning who tradition belongs to and who it overlooks, her work encourages audiences to consider and experience multiple, overlapping and contesting historical narratives rather than as a single, fixed entity.
Lu Williams (b.1993, Essex) is an artist producing sculpture, print, zines, drawing, writing, video, events and workshops through research, community engagement, collecting and collaboration. They make work around the themes of place and memory; community and collaboration; collecting; class and upbringing; accessibility; and platforming and uplifting marginalised voices- through the lens of queerness, neurodivergence and working classness. They are interested in class and taste, queerness, ecology, systems, paraphernalia and the notion of the ‘disposable’; elevating everyday off cuts, often ephemeral and nostalgic, into the valued but functional ‘art object’.
In 2015 they created Grrrl Zine Fair, a place for self-publishing and DIY art, music and culture surrounding feminist publishing. In 2017 the Grrrl Zine Library was born and hosted 600+ queer feminist zines, housed at The Old Waterworks. In 2020 they co-founded Dog Ear, dog toy sculptures and accompanying publications produced by artists, with artist Emma Edmondson. Williams is currently based in Leigh-on-sea, working from The Old Waterworks artist studios, Southend-on-sea and is on the Southend Community Investment Board and will be joining the Creative Estuary Board in September 2023.
Raisa Kabir is an interdisciplinary artist and weaver based in London. Kabir utilises woven text/textiles, sound, video and performance to address cultural anxieties surrounding nationhood, textile identities and the cultivation of borders. Her (un)weaving performances uses queer entanglement to comment on power, production, disability and the racialised body as a living archive of collective trauma. Her practice looks at geographies of labour in globalised neo-colonial textile production, incorporating the weaving processes of gesture, repetition, tension and production, and the relationship between craft and industrial production.
How might a weaving/healing/embodied practice ultimately resist ideas of bodily production in a labour system that relies on ‘functioning’ bodies and disregards others. Gendered bodies. Racialised bodies. Disabled bodies. Queer bodies. Trans bodies. Undocumented bodies. Weaving as a methodology for resistance.
Kabir has exhibited internationally at The Whitworth, Arnolfini, Liverpool Biennial, Glasgow International, CCA Glasgow, British Textile Biennial, Textile Arts Center NYC, Ford Foundation New York and the Center for Craft Creativity and Design U.S; and has lectured on her research at Tate Modern, The Courtauld and the V&A.
tilda scarlett is a textile artist based in london. they enjoy engaging with the time-consuming and repetitive nature of craft processes in their work – such as weaving or hand-sewing – which provide a space for a rhythmic and meditative experience.
weaving room, 2022, developed from a period of focusing on creating connections through weaving; starting by wrapping thread around the space between two parallel objects — mending, healing, connecting in the process. tilda has further explored this form of connection by weaving between two participants’ fingers, with the performance creating time and space for an emotional connection between those involved, as well as the physical one.
tilda is currently working with natural dyes and pigments, exploring how their work is slowed down by the process of extracting colour from plants, making colour more intentional and meaningful. their practice is becoming seasonal, grounded in a connection to the Sun and the earth.
The Master of Arts degree in Curating Art and Public Programmes is a unique collaboration with London South Bank University (LSBU), training emerging curators over a one-year, full-time course. Focusing on curating art and public programmes and culminating in the students’ final exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, it offers a unique curriculum that stands out from other curating courses. The backbone of the programme is a professional placement, an exclusive opportunity to learn in a real-life environment at an internationally renowned public contemporary art gallery. Students work alongside highly-experienced staff across the Gallery over a period of 20 weeks in addition to attending other taught modules. This programme allows students to apply the knowledge, understanding and skillset acquired through this course in the workplace. Candidates enter the professional field with practical knowledge, confidence and a strong global vision as they are connected with professional networks from the outset.
Course directors: Professor Geoff Cox, LSBU and Dr. Nayia Yiakoumaki, Whitechapel Gallery.
For more information about the MA Curating Art and Public Programmes course, see here.