Exhibiting artists: Michael Achtman; Nitin Amin; Marta Bakst; Victoria Burgher; Lizzie Cannon; Jessica Jane Charleston; Matt Gee; Michael Gurhy; Rachel Haines; Denise Hickey; Ryan Hodge; Anna Ilsley; Matthew Krishanu; Felicity McCabe; Lauren Mele; Laura Napier; Ellie Nicholls; Marcus Orlandi; Mette Sterre; Rhys Thomas; Emily Tracy; Jaime Valtierra; Emily Whitebread; Emily Wolfe
24 Bow Arts artists have been selected by guest curator Anj Smith for the 2016 Bow Open Show. The exhibition is the only show in the Nunnery Gallery’s programme to showcase exclusively Bow Arts artists, celebrating the innovation and creativity of the artists and makers working in the charity’s creative workspaces.
Selected by painter Anj Smith (Hauser & Wirth), who the NY Times describe as seeming “to have something small and vividly weird for every occasion", the loaded eccentricities of this year’s selection unfold much like the details in Smith’s quiet but powerful paintings – with media ranging from paint, collage and drawing to photography, interactive sculpture and performance.
Arresting visually, the works are also potent in meaning; Mette Sterre dresses her mother in the scales of the snake that tempted Eve as a feminist statement, digging at the Biblical narrative that in her opinion shames women’s body, while Emily Whitebread asks What is England in audio, searching with weighted words.
Nitin Amin’s Selfhood Series looks to his family history in seeking to re-perform and observe childhood memories from his hometown Mwanza in Tanzania, while Michael Achtman’s photographic work visualises a blind woman’s search for her family in the Western Isles of Scotland. Suiker Piet (Victoria Burgher) – delicate ceramic sugar shakers decorated with the open-mouthed faces of those enslaved in the sugar trade – references the Netherlands' use of slaves to produce sugar in colonial times and its ongoing legacy in the controversial tradition of Black Pete.
Sexuality and gender are also probing subjects in this year’s Bow Open. Thick and expressive paint quietly presents female eroticism in Anna Ilsley’s Call me, Call me Any, Anytime, while Ryan Hodge’s Ladies and Gentlemen takes us through an investigative comic strip of gender identity: pencil drawn self-portraits illuminated with screams of bright pink hair and make-up. Faces swell and bristle with brush-strokes in Jaime Valtierra’s Not Always but Anytime which, in his own words, “looks to explore sexuality against a background of polarising emotions such as failure, empowerment, repression, sublimation or abjection”.
Inviting a guest curator to make the exhibition selection builds a unique and different view point each year; previous curators include Mark Wallinger and Bob and Roberta Smith with Skye Sherwin.
The exhibition will be accompanied by an events programme that includes an evening of performances in Bow Arts’ courtyard for July’s First Thursday; a talk from Nye Thompson, recently featured in The Guardian for Backdoored, her archive of unsecured webcam images; an In Conversation with curator and artist Anj Smith; and the inaugural performance of Desire Caught by the Tail, a rarely produced play by Pablo Picasso, directed by Cradeaux Alexander, LUXE.
Bow Open Show
Nunnery Gallery, 181 Bow Road, E3 2SJ
Opening times: Tuesday - Sunday 10am-5pm