So, it’s been several months in the finding, but much like the X-Factor when all the singers start to sound the same and there’s no fun weirdos anymore, we’re very close to finding our final line up of fantastic artists for Caged Bird Sings at The Crypt Gallery. The opening night is alarmingly close, but thanks to friends who’ve forwarded artists to us and thanks to the lovely artists who have sent confirmation of their involvement in the project it’s shaping up to be a colourful, mesmerising, claustrophobic and altogether splendiferous evening.
Here’s who we’ve got so far:
1. James Roper
You know how when you’re little and you fancy someone, but you don’t know how to show it, so you punch them in the arm and run off and that’s pretty much the end of that, and your three year old heart is broken for life, if not the other kids arm. Well James Roper’s work sort of does the same but it gets you right in the jugular, and it doesn’t run away afterwards…swoon. It’s hard not to have a visceral reaction to Roper’s work, it’s huge, colourful, cosmic, complex and it looks delicious, like ice cream from some wondrous alien diner (perhaps this place). He’s taken his work to Joshua Liner Gallery in New York and LeBasse Projects in LA, his work has even adorned Kanye West’s chest and he’s supplying two stunning canvas pieces for the show. Two sprawling images vibrating with colour and a visual energy which would be put on ritalin if it was a child, confined and confronting the viewer in a restricted space? Just try not to fall too hard for it (n.b. Punching the paintings is frowned upon)…
Greek sculptor Stella Orkopoulou’s delicate pieces reference femininity and emotion and how these are restricted in society. Stella moved from Athens to London four years ago and has appeared in a few group shows, gradually honing her style and experimenting with different mediums. Her pieces are slight and delicate, featuring imperfections and cracks which only make them stronger. There is also a sense of duality in her work. She is much more abstract and raw than her Hellenistic predecessors. She is submitting two pieces for the show which will be cloistered in two of the Crypt’s smaller spaces.
Klarita Pandolfi’s work is at times dark and unnerving, much like her blood-stained (gooey-birth referencing?) version of Michaelangelo’s La Pieta, pictures of her as a domestic abuse victim or baths filled with blood surrounded by razor blades…so far so teenage goth you might think, but no, Klarita’s work is astoundingly inventive, original and her visuals will stick to your eyeballs like a brutal photoflash. Klarita also runs the Nocturne Folks club night and makes music so she’s one talented bunny. For the show Klarita is submitting a claustophobic image and sound piece, which will fill one room of the crypt and will undoubtedly provide some curiously spiritual experiences…
4. Hester Jones
Hester Jones is an artist who examines how restrictive the role of ‘mother’, specifically ‘perfect mother’ can be for a woman. Her images in the ‘Call Yourself a Mother’ series document the small gestures that make mothers decidedly less domestic goddess and slightly more like former Mothers of the year Kerry Katona and Jordan, at least to anyone who sees and judges you. She challenges traditional roles which women have been assigned to and defined by. She will be providing two pieces for the exhibition, which will raise questions about women’s roles today and how much they have really progressed.
5. Jo Young
Jo Young is an up-and-coming artist and fashion illustrator who specialises in salacious and stylized depictions of women in flagrante. Using Aubrey Beardsley and Franz Von Bayross’s sensual drawings as an inspiration, her work wields female sexuality as a weapon and pulls the viewer/voyeur into a sleepy-eyed, post-coital reverie. Young will be submitting two works for the show, using make-up as a medium to impress on the canvas the masks that women wear to subordinate themselves to the ideal…also cos it looks awesome.
6. Paul Dawes
Paul Dawes has an eclectic background as an illustrator, artist, graphic designer and photographer; drawing from comic books, fine art, advertising and film to produce his unique artworks. For the show he will be producing an illustration and he will be collaborating with Jo Young to produce a special installation piece. His irreverent humour and wry masculine point of view will undoubtedly provide an intriguing and unique insight into restriction. His recent life drawing studies have seen a more mature, realist style to Dawes work.
Daisy McMullan’s stunning work is inspired by vintage wallpaper, patterns in nature, memory, dream and femininity. Her work is delicate and ephemeral, painted in washes of pastels with fragments of pattern emerging in curlicues of strong colour. Her work fits in nicely with current trends in decor, but also taps in to a darker vein. It is deceptively sweet as the piece she is submitting for the show testifies. It references the cruelty and symbolic pathos of butterfly collecting (bringing to mind John Fowles’ The Collector), whilst also bringing together a delicate feminine pattern and abstract form.
8. Dorothy Yoon
Korean artist Dorothy Yoon‘s work examines both the roles that women play and the prevalent images of white, blonde women in culture. Her ’13 Blondes’ series examined her wish to conform to the Western Ideal and referenced fictional, historical and celebrity blondes who are the idols of a zeitgeist that worships a narrow aesthetic. Her ‘8 of Heroes’ series, two works of which SaLon Gallery is kindly loaning us for the show, shows the restrictive and subordinate roles women are indoctrinated into through myth and fairytale, the stories which we are raised with and which are provided to us as a guide to life and as aspirational stories. She relates these stories and characters to her own personal experiences as a Korean ex-pat in the UK, not just assuming their identities, but comparing their experiences with hers and assuming this ideal in her life.
Sarah Misselbrook’s fascinating sculptures take the female form and dismantle it, transform it, improve it, dissect it and disintegrate it in the case of her sculptures made from biodegradable substances such as chocolate. Her sculptures almost seem like cyber women, like the robot Maria from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. There is a vulnerability to her work too, 1m2, one of the sculptures she is submitting for the show shows a women with vicious looking spikes in her spine, but she is curled in a foetal position on the floor. Her work is simultaneously women trapped and revealed and her steampunk aesthetic fits perfectly into the gothic crannies of the Crypt.
10. Taciana Coimbra
Taciana Coimbra’s work is intensely personal, so much so that she’s inviting us all to trample all over her in the show. She has submitted paintings which are designed to lie on the floor, to challenge the viewer to leave their comfort zone and break the hallowed forcefield around the painting. She will also be performing on the night, a special piece that will place her in a vulnerable position amongst the viewers. Perhaps a slightly controversial work, but what point has ever been made by being meek.
11. Luigi Menichelli
Italian artist Luigi Menichelli is something of a forager, either that or a whizz with a leaf blower. His work uses natural materials such as leaves, chillies, flowers, sticks and grasses, some of which have been artificially coloured, arranged in glass cases to resemble abstract paintings. The repetition of the pattern references the perfect geometry of nature and he works as a reverse Monet, the further away you get, the more the flowers and leaves lose their shape and the more abstract they look. He also references the inevitability of death and decay in organic forms and restricts and embalms the natural forms by trapping them behind glass and repurposing them. Luigi will be providing some of his incredible artwork for the show, and seen up close these are much more than just a pile of old leaves.
12. Reme Campos
Reme Campos’s photographs have appeared in The Mail on Sunday, The Saturday Telegraph and Stella Magazine; and she has photographed personalities such as Anita Roddick, Nicole Farhi and Tony Benn. Her photography largely covers portraiture, but she has also delved into travel photography and photo journalism, with engrossing imagery from trips to India and her investigation into the lives of Soho prostitutes. For the exhibition Reme will be focussing on the issues relevant to Stop the Traffik by displaying her photographs of prostitutes in their workspace. Relaxed and natural, they give away nothing of their profession and exude the elegance and class of Reme’s most erudite subjects; however, little details in their surroundings leave clues to their status and we begin to question how much we can really know about these women and their lives.
13. Brixton Punk
Brixton Punk creates stunning contemporary sculptures in glass, turning a traditionally fragile and decorative medium into strong symbols of urban living such as skateboards and manhole overs. Using unique colours and textures his renderings of playstation controls and guns are very far removed from the Caithness your Grandma keeps on her mantlepiece. For the exhibition Brixton Punk is providing sculptures which relate to immigration and psychological disorientation, a subject which relates strongly with the sentiments of the Anti-Slavery Organisation whom this exhibition supports.
Arturo Zavala Haag’s pitch-perfect photography uses a mix of the natural and personal to create clear intimate portraits and saturated landscapes which hang in the balance between dream and reality. His work covers fine art, fashion, travel, landscape architecture and advertising; abstracting and naturalising urban and rural spaces Arturo will be providing work for the exhibition which will no doubt cover the theme of restriction in a way which presents the theme subtly with a nostalgic, surreal image enticing viewers to the frame for longer.
15. Kika Nicolela
Kika Nicolela studied as a film-maker, but she has become a firm fixture in the art world. Her work largely examines the female form finding itself within nature whether it’s submerging herself in water, rolling around in dirt or walking naked round an urban environment. Nicolela is an artist who isn’t afraid to push her limits, and collaboration between the actors in her films is a vital relationship inherent to the meaning of the piece, as the artist has stated, “the idea of placing me and the subject together in a awkward situation and the relationship that happens between us through the camera is a very important part of my process”. Her film Crossing, which we will be showing at the exhibition shows a women caught within a modernist urban landscape smearing lipstick over her face in an attempt to rid herself of a mask, whilst simultaneously creating one. At times she is shown with crossing lines superimposed over her, literally trapped by the chaotic environment. Nicolela’s work has been much acclaimed and has won prizes at the Magmart International Videoart Festival and the A Corto di Donne Short Film Festival in Italy amongst others.
16. Elizabeth Shingleton
Liz Shingleton is a talented artist and photographer who grew up in a town called Fairyland in the Appalachian Mountains. With a pedigree like that how could she be anything else than imaginative and artistic. Influenced by everything from horror movies to candy to imaginary friends, Liz’s work is always inventive, fresh, colourful and exciting. She hasn’t yet revealed what she will provide for the exhibition, but one thing’s for sure, it will be damn exciting…watch this space.