Exhibitions and events featuring a-n members including rituals with Wingshan Smith in Nottingham, landscapes in Leeds, Od Arts Festival in rural Somerset, plus Wink Wink in Lancashire.
The Joy of Destruction
This group exhibition of work by Rebecca Allen, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley, Uma Breakdown, Wingshan Smith and Robert Yang explores ‘disruptions of oppressive power systems in gaming, world-building, and simulation’ and destruction as a creative strategy for imagining alternative universes.
Nottingham-based a-n member Wingshan Smith is among the artists whose practices reflect Backlit’s foundations as an LGBTQ+ and female-led arts organisation. Her practice engages with the cathartic potential of rituals to create sites for healing in community settings, and in ‘tracing forgotten histories and lost identities to invent new ways of understanding one another and our shared futures.’
22 April – 18 June 2023, Backlit gallery, Nottingham backlit.org.uk
A giant drag queen, ‘innuendo neon’ and a tracksuit designed by and for lesbians are among the works visitors can expect to see in this exhibition by 24 artists who identify as LGBTQIA+.
Manchester-based Jez Dolan’s practice exists at the intersections of queerness, sexuality, identity and memory, while Ro Robertson, who is Sunderland-born and now lives in Cornwall, works across sculpture, video and large-scale drawing.
London-based Jonathan Baldock’s ceramic work Maske LXXX consists of abstract sculptural elements playfully arranged to resemble a face, while Harold Offeh, who lives and works in Cambridge, shows work from the series Emergent (Crystal Mouths): close-up photographs in which small crystals and rocks are held between the artist’s lips.
19 May – 23 July 2023, The Whitaker Museum & Art Gallery, Rossendale thewhitaker.org
Still and Still Moving
Od Arts Festival returns to the villages of East and West Coker in Somerset with a programme of art in unexpected rural locations, and community activities including monument making and bookbinding.
Drawing inspiration from the crooked stream (the Od) which meanders through the villages, the festival promises to ‘explore the different ways we navigate, move in and connect to the world around us, from ancient way-making and international trade to the almost imperceptible slow motion of plants and rocks.’
26 – 28 May 2023, Location across East and West Coker, Somerset osrprojects.co.uk
Loving Fugitives, Runaway Images
Multi-disciplinary artist, writer and Chair of a-n’s Artists Council Clémentine Bedos presents a performance as the culmination of their residency at Van Gogh House during April 2023.
Bedos’ project Loving Fugitives, Runaway Images is based on the relationship Clémentine maintains with their grandmother, the ‘outsider’ artist Jeanne Durand, who communicated with her family through thousands of letters and daily flower drawings.
A series of ‘traces’ from the residency and performance will be left inside Van Gogh House and can be seen during guided tours of the house.
29 April 2023, Van Gogh House, London vangoghhouse.co.uk
Arcadia for All? Rethinking Landscape Painting Now
This group exhibition of work by 30 contemporary painters reconsiders landscape painting in a time of ecological crisis and in a post-colonial, capitalist context.
Raising questions about who has access to nature, land ownership and identity ‘Arcadia for All?’ includes works by a-n 40th Anniversary interviewees Lubaina Himid and George Shaw, and long-standing London-based a-n member Matthew Krishanu.
Krishanu’s oil on canvas painting Two Boys (Mountains, Kashmir) depicts a pair of children perched on a rocky outcrop with a village far below and mountains in the distance. A recurring motif in Krishanu’s work, which reflects on the history of the British Empire, is two characters based on the artist and his brother, whose childhoods were variously spent in Bradford, Birmingham and Bangladesh.
26 April – 29 July 2023, The Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds library.leeds.ac.uk
Part of London Craft Week, this exhibition curated by artistic collaboration Forest + Found (Max Bainbridge and Abigail Booth) includes a-n members working in an array of materials including wood, clay, leather and metal.
Brought together around a common interest in the material world, works display a tactile approach, a deep engagement with the physicality of making, and interest in the relationships between body and object.
Booth’s painted and patchworked canvases include natural pigments drawn from landscapes she encounters, while Bainbridge carves large vessels and sculptures from fallen trees, often making a feature of splits and characters of the wood that would traditionally be seen as flaws.
Alida Kuzemczak-Sayer works with paper, wax, graphite and raw cast metal, in an intuitive process of repeated deconstruction and re-formation to create sculptural scroll-like forms. Meanwhile Frances Pinnock’s handstitched leather objects range in scale from handheld to large free-standing works that incorporate welded armatures.
9-14 May 2023, Cromwell Place, London londoncraftweek.com
Organised by East Street Arts, this participatory conference brings together artist-led organisations and collectives, artists, studio providers, artists’ support organisations, academics and students to explore the question: ‘How do we develop what we do without denying who we are?’
Drawing parallels between the cultural sector and beehives as complex and adaptive systems, participants will consider how the interconnectedness of artist-led spaces – at policy, sector and organisational levels – can contribute to their sustainability.
22 May, The Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds eaststreetarts.org.uk
Top image: Forest + Found. Photo: Scarlet Page