Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art

Six a-n members are included in this major group exhibition that explores the expansive ways in which contemporary artists use clay. Among the 23 international and multi-generational artists is a-n member and ceramics legend Magdalene Odundo, alongside a new generation of artists who are smashing expectations of the medium.

Jonathan Baldock’s playful installation Facecrime includes precariously stacked ruin-like columns and scattered ceramic emoticons that reflect the artist’s interest in human emotion and how we communicate. Emma Hart, whose work is also currently on view at Frieze Sculpture Park, presents a series of double-sided sculptures that evoke car windscreens and road signs.

Sicilian-born Salvatore Arancio shows sculptural pieces that contrast black lava-like rock formations with ‘psychedelically glazed’ iridescent protuberances, while Serena Korda’s gigantic beaded necklace draws inspiration from myth and magic.

Margate-based a-n member Lindsey Mendick presents a new large-scale installation, Till Death Do Us Part, which depicts a basement flat as battleground: a domestic space overtaken by battalions of murderous mice, slugs stealing kitchen knives and armed cockroaches abseiling from a lamp.

Until 8 January 2023, Hayward Gallery, London

Installation view of Jonathan Baldock and Betty Woodman, Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art at the Hayward
Gallery. Photo: Mark Blower. Courtesy: the Hayward Gallery


Long-standing a-n member Matthew Krishanu presents new paintings in this solo exhibition that draws on the artist’s upbringing and childhood experiences in Bangladesh.

Krishanu’s white British father and Bengali Indian mother moved from Bradford to Bangladesh in 1981 when he was a year old. The painting that lends the exhibition its title, Playground, is based on a family photograph, and shows two children – one South Asian and the other a blond European – on a seesaw, accompanied by adults who are presumably their parents.

Throughout the exhibition, Krishanu’s paintings draw on his memories of white expatriates in Dhaka and depict seemingly innocent, everyday scenes that also suggest complex colonial narratives and unequal power relationships.

10 November 2022 – 14 January 2023, Niru Ratnam, London

Matthew Krishanu, Playground, 2020, oil on canvas, 55×70. Photo: Peter Mallet


Brewers Towner International is a biennial exhibition and public programme at Towner, Eastbourne, which has recently been announced as the host venue for the Turner Prize in 2023.

Several a-n members are among the 23 contemporary artists selected by open call, which also offers a £10,000 award to one of the exhibiting artists.

Dene Leigh was selected for his trompe l’oeil paintings which ‘intertwine autobiographical and fictional fragments of history and historical memory’ while Lara Smithson presents Shroud 1, 2 & 3. These human-scale drawings made with soft pastel and pencil on reflective fabric are also wearable costumes, made for Smithson’s ongoing film/performance project Desensitise, which examines a form of therapy used to treat PTSD by stimulating the left and right sides of the brain though movements of the eyes or body.

Sculptor and long-standing a-n member Sharon Haward makes work informed by architecture and its impact on the human form, while East-Sussex-based Benjamin Phillips presents collaborative drawing works created with Amy Fenton.

Sheffield-based Maud Haya-Baviera shows Things Fall Apart, a video that reinterprets the story of Robinson Crusoe and the artist’s childhood memory of it as ‘an exciting survivor’s guide to isolation’ that then ‘revealed itself as a dark and gruelling tale’. Meanwhile Ufuoma Essi’s Bodies In Dissent combines Super8 footage with archival material to consider ‘the body as a central site of remembrance and resistance’.

Until 22 January 2023, Towner Eastbourne

Lara Smithson, Shroud 1, 2 & 3, 2021. Copyright: the artist


The first solo exhibition by Yorkshire-based sculptor and a-n member Claye Bowler explores queer and trans narratives and how they have been hidden, erased or destroyed.

Drawing on Bowler’s own trans history, the exhibition includes latex and plaster casts, video, works on paper and photographs, presented on metal shelving racks and archival cabinets, which evoke museum storage spaces that are usually hidden from public view.

Top includes work made during the six-year process of Bowler obtaining top surgery (an operation to remove chest or breast tissue) within the UK healthcare system, and is also informed by his role working in a museum, which involves the care of objects, conservation, preservation and archiving.

Until 15 January 2023, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

Claye Bowler, Top, 2022

The Manchester Contemporary

This collegiate, artist-focused fair showcases young galleries, artist-led spaces, charitable organisations and partner institutions, including Short Supply, Paradise Works and Castlefield Gallery.

a-n members participating include Narbi Price with Gateshead-based Vane gallery, showing works from his series of Untitled Bench Paintings (Lockdown), which depict ‘decommissioned’ public benches wrapped in hazard tape – a familiar and ‘subtly melancholy and banally violent sight’ during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manchester-based Kevin Hunt and Cornwall-based Simon Bayliss, both a-n members, take part with Pink curatorial project, which presents Queer Textures, focusing on work whose ‘material texture and visual tactility speaks to contemporary debates around queer identity and practice’. Bayliss presents ceramic vessels titled Coffee Set (for Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s Unicorn 1), while Hunt’s minimal vacuum formed pieces allude to municipal post-war architecture.

4-6 November 2022, Manchester Central

Simon Bayliss, Coffee Set (for Wilhelmina Barns-Graham’s Unicorn 1), 2022, terracotta, coloured slips, oxides, clear, honey & copper glaze

Very Private?

This exhibition of recently discovered erotic drawings made by Duncan Grant in the 1940s-1950s is accompanied by responses from six contemporary artists, including a-n members Harold Offeh and Kadie Salmon.

Duncan Grant, who lived at Charleston with fellow artist Vanessa Bell, created hundreds of intimate drawings at a time when sex between men was still illegal in England. Feared lost for many years, the drawings were in fact secretly passed down between lovers and friends in the queer community.

Scottish-born, London-based artist and a-n member Salmon, who works with analogue film and traditional processing techniques, presents hand-tinted photographs titled Melt in Waves (I & II). The images, created through multiple exposures of film, use the interiors and garden of Charleston as backdrops to ‘romantic and sexualised encounters’ between three women (all modelled by the artist), whose bodies overlap, entangle and merge.

Until 12 March 2023, Charleston, Lewes, East Sussex

Very Private, installation view. Photo credit: © The Charleston Trust; photograph: James Bellorini

Top image: Salvatore Arancio, It Was Only a Matter of Time Before We Found the Pyramid and Forced It Open, 2017, glazed and unglazed ceramic, epoxy resin. Installation view of Strange Clay: Ceramics in Contemporary Art at the Hayward Gallery. Photo: Mark Blower. Courtesy: the Hayward Gallery