Saturday, 29 March 2014

Desperate Artwives exhibition at the Crypt Gallery ♥

I haven't had much time for blogging during these past couple of weeks. The reason being is I was offered the opportunity to take my Desperate Artwives project to the Crypt Gallery in Euston for a two weeks exhibition. We guested alongside some amazing Italian artists who were showing in the main exhibition called 'Vanity Unfair'- you can read all about Art Cafe London and "Vanity Unfair" here

Left, a shot of the exhibition and right, the opening night in full swing
The Crypt of St.Pancras Parish Church is a unique venue originally designed and used for coffin burials between 1822 and 1854. Crypt burial was seen as a slightly better alternative to the overcrowded burial grounds but not everybody could afford it. Today the Crypt is still the final resting place of 557 people.

The Crypt was also used in both World Wars as an air raid shelter. 

Having seen the Crypt adorned with all the beautiful artwork, lights, hearing the reverberation of laughter, the wine flowing and the dressed tables full of delicious canapés it's difficult to imagine it during those dark nights filled with worry and fear. The Crypt is also extremely cold and humid which makes me conscious of the difficulties people faced.

I read on the Crypt's website that a woman called Gladys Green ran a canteen down there in the evenings and nights during the London  blitz. Gladys' daughter Georgina was about 8 at the time and she explains how she had to sleep overnight there; "in one of the alcoves which were fitted out with bunk beds". I wonder if the alcove she is talking about was the one I have allocated for one my artists, Slavka Jovanovic? 

Left, the Crypt Gallery from the outside. Right, Slavka Jovanovic's video work inside one of the alcoves.
Our room, located at the end of the main corridor was big enough for me to accomodate 7 artists, including myself. 

I always find curating just as exciting and interesting as being an artist. I like researching the artists and talking to them. I'm interested in their artwork and I enjoy putting it all together and making it work.

Curating might be fun but it's also really hard work. At the Crypt I was extremely fortunate to have such an atmospheric setting but even more so to have such an astounding quality of artwork!

Please see below for all the participating artists and their incredible contributions!

Nina Ciuffini
"Untitled" Oil, gloss on linen, Nina Ciuffini 2012 ©

Through painting Nina CIuffini expresses language, temporary images and the body through the exploration of marks as a material product of a painterly performative act. Her aim is to turn everything into a minimal documentation with a simple gesture as a sense of meditation, properly understood as an inter-position and an inter-vetion.

Tracey Kershaw
"Tell me about your mother" Mixed media installation, Tracey Kershaw 2013 ©

Tracey's work explores the maternal. She is interested in the familiarity of the everyday, examined from the perspective of her relationship with her son. This installation, 'Tell me about your mother' considers the reverse relationship- from the perspective of the child as adult. Tracey invites people to sit in the purple armchair and to think about their mother.

Esther Geis
"Alice in Yogaland" Digital prints and ink on paper, Esther Geis 2014 ©

These images are part of a series called 'Alice in Yogaland'. They are meant to take the viewer down the rabbit hole into the experience of Yoga. Esther used the illustrations by John Tenniel and the story of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol as inspiration and gave it a completely new spin by putting them into the yogic context.

Mercedes Ferrari
"La mujerzuela"(The floozy) Lampshade sculpture, Mercedes Ferrari 2013 ©

With a wry humour, raw energy and visual puns, Mercedes aims to confront and engage. Her work explores challenging issues, such as violence, gender, sex, maternity and domesticity through mixed-media sculpture, drawing and performance. It is suggestive and provocative, with cartoon-like arrangements that often have high sexual content and a strong emotional narrative.

Sharon Reeves
"Voyeur series" Etching, Sharon Reeves 2014 ©

Sharon's work explores feminine identity and erotic empowerment, challenging and questioning the expectations placed on women by Western society. It looks at the emotional dilemma of marking art as a Woman, a Mother, a Wife. Inspiration comes from themes of suppression, inhibition, emotional resistance and freedom of expression of femininity, sexuality and self.

Slavka Jovanovic

Stills from the video animation "Her story", Slavka Jovanovic 2011 ©

Slavka's video is a journey of self-discovery told in animated picture-book style. The viewer is invited to sit back, relax and listen to the little girl's tale who will transport the audience deep into the bowels of a big old house. 
Amy Dignam (me!)
"Peas in a bucket" Video performance,"Wrinkles" Silk impression, Amy Dignam 2014 ©

If you have been following my blog you probably already know a little bit about the nature of my work. It revolves around my everyday life. Repetitive actions like picking up peas from the floor after my children's meal times become a performance that tests my physical and psychological strengths. Memories play a big part in my work too. 'Wrinkles' is a scarf whose design was obtained by drawing the wrinkles around my mother's eyes as an attempt to keep her memory alive. 
Curating is always a wonderful experience that allows me to enter into the artists' world in a deep and meaningful way. However, in this particular show I curated the exhibition in such a way as to underline different facets of my present situation; presenting ideas through other people's work rather than illustrating them myself. Not many people, if anyone at all, would have read this ulterior message. Most of all, it feels wonderful to be doing what I love the most and opportunities such as this one really feed my aspirations and enthusiasm to carry on down this path, no matter how arduous it might be... 

Last but not least, I would like to thank Nadia Spita and her wonderful team for making the whole thing possible. They're not only beautiful and clever women but also really hard workers. Thank you!


                                Amy Dignam ©

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