Taking as its starting point a large, flat-screen TV – a permanent yet unused feature of Terrace Gallery’s former home within a pub – this multidisciplinary show ‘examines the continued allure of monochrome black in artistic practice.’
Among the 30 artists exhibiting works from the 1970s to the present day is Stephen Palmer, whose painting Nothing much to offer began as many of his detailed A4 works do, with a model – a piece of paper that he ‘defaces’ through folding, ripping, crumpling and mark-marking. The results are both formal and playful, concerned with geometry and its subversion through acts of making and undoing.
Until 12 February 2023, Terrace Gallery, London www.karlbielik.com
A Tall Order! Rochdale Art Gallery in the 1980s
This major exhibition celebrates the pioneering work of a small, civic gallery in Rochdale that consistently championed socially and politically engaged art by radical artists throughout the 1980s .
Rochdale Art Gallery aimed to attract audiences of women, LGBTQ+ communities, Black and South Asian artists, young people, those with disabilities and to encourage cultural activity for working class communities, through exhibitions that addressed the biggest issues of the day, including the Miners’ Strike, the AIDs epidemic and Black politics.
‘A Tall Order!’ includes the work of 90s artists, some of whom exhibited at the gallery in the 1980s, alongside new commissions that reflect on its history.
Among the a-n members involved are multi-disciplinary artist Bhajan Hunjan with the painting Peacock Feather (pictured top), Sonia Boyce, who presents a drawing from c.1985-6 that has never been exhibited before, and Jasleen Kaur, whose film Gut Feelings Meri Jaan questions the ways in which cultural history is preserved. Meanwhile a-n Board member Keith Piper’s depictions of Black, male bodies are a powerful reminder that racist and derogatory conceptions of Black masculinity did not end in the 1980s and still need to be challenged today.
4 February – 7 May 2023, Touchstones Rochdale, Greater Manchester www.yourtrustrochdale.co.uk
Judith Alder, a former member of a-n’s Artists Council, presents a solo exhibition of wall-based works, moving image and sculpture that reflect her fascination with science and science fiction.
Engaging with the ideas of scientific and literary visionaries such as Carl Sagan and HG Wells, Alder’s work explores complex interconnected systems including biological, economic, digital, agricultural and environmental ecosystems.
‘Vital Signs’ includes large-scale drawings, animations and the work Improbable Experiments With Growing Stones, which Alder intriguingly describes as “sitting somewhere between sculpture and village hall amateur dramatics scenery.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a rich programme of talks, walks, workshops and a performance drawing in the gallery, which will reference Charles Darwin’s sketch the tree of life, a visual prototype for his evolutionary theory and the interconnectedness of living things.
14 – 25 February 2023, Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) Gallery, Birmingham www.rbsa.org.uk
S for Southend 2023
This annual community exhibition showcases artworks made by Southend-on-Sea residents and artists, including many produced through Focal Point Gallery’s learning programme.
A selection of artists’ moving image runs alongside the exhibition and includes work by Essex-based a-n member David Valentine, who uses surveillance camera footage to explore the impacts of modern technologies on society.
Meanwhile, long-standing a-n member Damien Robinson, who works with digital and found media, presents new online video commission Sign/Sound/Southend. The artist, who is Deaf, led workshops with other local Deaf people and BSL users to explore the ways in which ‘sound is more than hearing’.
Until 18 February 2023, Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea www.fpg.org.uk
Five a-n members present new bodies of work in this exhibition developed from research residencies that took place during 2022.
Joshua Phillips, Sabrina Shah, Yambe Tam, and Yui Yamamoto are among the 10 artists whose work for Inside responds to the opulent interiors and complex history of Two Temple Place – a neo-Gothic mansion formerly owned by William Waldorf Astor, one of the wealthiest men in the US in the 1890s.
a-n member Sam Williams (in collaboration with Hollie Miller) shows a video work filmed in Devon, which draws parallels between the symbolic Green Man and the multiple figures of the Lady of the Lake from Arthurian legend, who appears in a decorative panel in the Grand Hall of Two Temple Place.
Tracing such depictions back to their Celtic origins, through ‘deviations, derivations and misinterpretations of languages and translation’ Williams’ film explores the ‘transformations of plurality, gender, body and meaning.’
Until 26 February 2023, Two Temple Place, London www.twotempleplace.org
This major solo exhibition by Brighton-based a-n member David Blandy includes an immersive installation and four new ambitious films which reflect his interest in history, the legacy of empire and the climate crisis.
One pair of films find mirrored histories of war and agriculture through found footage and archival material drawn from Screen Archive South East.
Meanwhile ‘twinned’ films The Edge of Forever and Empire of the Swamp draw on the experiences of the artists’ grandfather, a British soldier held as a Japanese prisoner of war in Singapore during World War 2. Playing out against the landscapes of south England and Singapore, these works tell interconnected stories of family history, fragile ecosystems and colonialism.
11 February – 6 May 2023, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton www.jhg.art
Image as Protest
Powerful bodies of work by Belfast-based artist Joy Gerrard and Paula Rego (1935 – 2022) are brought together in this exhibition that draws a focus to women’s rights.
Rego’s confronting abortion series depicts lone women in the aftermath of illegal abortions. Made in response to the defeat in 1998 of a Portuguese referendum on abortion, the works are visceral, raging, defiant: pictures as protest.
Echoing Rego into the present are Gerrard’s monochrome ink drawings from her ongoing series of protest crowds, which often show a wide, elevated view of a mass crowd in an urban environment. These new drawings depict recent demonstrations including those in support of women in Iran, and others against removing access to abortion in the US, some of which the artist took part in.
Gerrard’s large-scale sculptural work Barrier is a concertina structure that divides the gallery. Its panels fragment the painted aerial view of a protest in London that took place after Sarah Everard was murdered by a police officer in 2021. While Gerrard’s paintings are a record of and demand for visibility, here the whole image is fractured and can be seen only in parts.
27 January – 4 March 2023, Cristea Roberts, London www.cristearoberts.com
Top image: Bhajan Hunjan, Peacock Feather, acrylic on canvas, 1990. Collection of the artist. Courtesy and © the artist