Light Upon Light
a-n Board member Zarah Hussain presents 12 new pieces of wall-based sculpture along with drawings and the light installation Invisible Threads in this exhibition at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum. Hussain’s work combines digital technology with traditional Islamic geometry, to create interactive apps, infinitely looping animations, paintings and sculptures. The Macclesfield-born artist originally created Invisible Threads for the 2018 Macclesfield Barnaby Festival; its ever-changing design and endless colour combinations mean that this immersive piece is constantly evolving and looks different each time it is seen.
Until 13 November 2021, Rugby Art Gallery and Museum www.ragm.co.uk
Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules
Artist and a-n member Andy Holden curates this playful exhibition, which celebrates the world’s longest running weekly comic, the Beano, now 83-years-old and still produced each week in Dundee. Bedwyr Williams, Heather Phillipson, Rachel Maclean, Ryan Gander, Phyllida Barlow and Sarah Lucas are among the 50 contemporary artists whose mischievous and rebellious work is included alongside 100 comic artworks from the Beano archive. Many of the featured works use comedy to address social issues, including recent RCA graduate and a-n member Olivia Sterling, who presents a new painting depicting a slapstick scene from a children’s tea party, to reflect on questions of identity in Britain today.
Until 6 March 2022, Somerset House, London. www.somersethouse.org.uk/
Cut & Mix
Centred around the Blk Art Group and British Black Art Movement that emerged in the Midlands in the late 1970s to 1980s, this group exhibition explores representations of Black British masculinity, past, present and future. The seven Black British artists showing work include founder member of the Blk Art Group and a-n Board member Keith Piper and a-n Artists Council member Antonio Roberts. Both Piper’s film Go West Young Man (1996) and Roberts’ digital work Heavyweight Champ (2021) find connections between past and present images of Black men who are simultaneously deprived of their strength and virility, while being exoticised and fetishised. The exhibition presents pivotal works by Rotimi Fani-Kayode (1955–1989) alongside new commissions by Marlene Smith and Beverley Bennett, Michael Forbes’ photographs and work by Amartey Golding, which collectively address key discussions around gender, race and sexualities.
30 October 2021 – 9 January 2022, Nottingham Art Exchange www.nae.org.uk
Becontree Estate Dagenham
This series of commissions marks the centenary of Becontree Estate Dagenham, the biggest council estate in the UK and the most ambitious of the country’s interwar house building projects. Artists, designers and architects have created new playgrounds, street furniture, sculpture, commemorative wall plaques and interventions including a mural by Joy Labinjo. a-n member Katie Schwab has redesigned twelve of Becontree’s neglected ‘corner plots’, transforming them into Squaring the Corners – new public areas for residents to meet, rest, play and garden.
Larry Achiampong, also an a-n member, draws on his memories of living in Dagenham as a child and teenager in a new audio score. Titled These Ends, it combines composition and prose with field recordings to consider personal and communal heritage.
Becontree Estate Dagenham, London www.createlondon.org/
91 days of clear blue skies
Artist and a-n Artists Council member Giles Round, whose cross-disciplinary practice encompasses art, design and architecture, presents a solo exhibition of works made from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Drawings in oil stick, pencil and watercolour on paper and linen depict Round’s immediate surroundings – his house and garden – and the world elsewhere via images found in the book A Selection of Snapshots Taken by the Cuban-born American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres (1957–1996), which consists of 35mm photographs sent by Gonzáles-Torres to friends.
Varying in abstraction and subject, Round’s works include still-life interiors, groundworks for his self-build studio and flowers, combined with glimpses of the palm trees, Miami Beach, house plants, bedrooms, New York and LA of Gonzáles-Torres’ publication.
24 October – 20 November 2021, Quench, Margate www.quenchgallery.co.uk/
Digital Craft Festival
This online event is organised by the Cheltenham and Devon-based Craft Festival and represents 100 designer-makers from across the UK and beyond. Featuring a curated collection of new works alongside a programme of live talks, workshops and making sessions for all ages, the festival is a celebration of an array of craft practices and a chance to support makers and small creative businesses by buying from them. The programme includes a ‘Craft Conversation’ with Cornish driftwood artist Kirsty Elson and basketmaker Hilary Burns, MBE, plus live demonstrations by potters Fitch & McAndrew and Jeremy James.
Online, 13–14 November 2021 www.digitalcraftfestival.co.uk/
Radical Ecology: Media Art and the Environment
Taking place in the same month that world leaders meet for the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, this online event, curated by a-n member Aphra Shemza, looks to art as a forum for imagining future environmental possibilities in the context of media art. Organised in collaboration with the National Gallery, and taking its collection as a starting point, three artists will discuss climate change, ecology, sustainable practice and conservation in relation to their work: Sarah Craske, an a-n member who works between art, science and technology, Ben Eaton, a digital artist and creative technologist, and visual artist Frances Disley.
23 November 2021, online www.artinfluxlondon.com/radical-ecology-ngx.html
Something to do with Art podcast
Artist and a-n member Robert Good introduces the second series of his podcast Something to do with Art, which explores and celebrates artistic creativity and experimentation, and addresses the fundamental questions: Why do artists do what they do, and how do they do it? Each of the seven new episodes features a guest artist in conversation with Good. In this series you will hear Amanda Couch discussing ‘divining the future using entrails’, MOOGZ talking about ‘hacking into a nuclear installation (legally) and making art from it’, Madi Acharya-Baskerville on ‘being in the naughty corner at an exhibition’ and much more from Egidija Čiricaitė, Karen Frances Eng, Madi Acharya-Baskerville and Philip Harris. Plus Matthew Chesney, director of Nottingham’s Backlit Gallery reflects on the importance of art and community, and why art is needed now more than ever.
Series 1 and 2 available on Soundcloud https://www.a-n.co.uk/blogs/something-to-do-with-art-2/
The third Coventry Biennial, titled HYPER-POSSIBLE, presents work by more than 50 artists in seven venues, whose work references the city’s radical history and signifies positive paths out of the pandemic and into the future. Three historical art movements connected to Coventry and Warwickshire – Art & Language, The BLK Art Group and Cybernetic Culture Research Unit – provide context and reference points for new commissions. Examples of each movement are exhibited at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, including works by Claudette Johnson and Denzil Forrester. Meanwhile Coventry Cathedral hosts the exhibition ‘Listening to the Anthropocene’, which focuses on the climate and areas affected by climate change through nine sound and moving image works. Elsewhere are exhibitions, installations and commissions that consider new and radical approaches to education, participation and co-creation, as well as relationships to home, identity, politics and society.
Until 23 January 2022, venues across Coventry www.coventrybiennial.com/
Top image: Zarah Hussain, Root 2 Blue, Green, 2020-21, mixed media, acrylic paint and varnish. Courtesy the artist