Best of the West – May-June 2021

The best art exhibitions coming up in Bristol and the Westcountry – selected by the Friends of the RWA…

The vaccines are going in and the galleries are opening up! Here’s our pick of the best art exhibitions and events happening in and around Bristol and the south west in May and June – including a look ahead to upcoming features….
 


 

AT THE RWA

The RWA has closed its doors until February 2022 for the very exciting Light and Inspiration project. However, over the next 10 months or so there will be plenty of RWA events going on at other venues in the area. Watch this space – and keep an eye on rwa.org.uk for the latest.
 


 

CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

Compiled by Sue Quirk and Laurel Smart
 

1) MARIE-CLAIRE HAMON, THE FORAGER

27 MAY – 19 JUNE THAT GALLERY BRISTOL

 

“In the past year, a spirit figure has appeared in my work, it is a universal figure not defined by gender or any cultural attachment nor does it belong to any named place. It is human at its core, it could be anyone, it is you and me in our essential state devoid of clothing, class, race, of all these things that normally define who we are; it is us undressed in our animal condition in tune with our natural environment.

“The work is quite Romantic as it projects a human experience of harmony with nature as the primitive human morphed into a 21st century avatar. With a meditative religious fervour, this semi-god like figure who once conquered and dominated the natural world now visits it for renewal and defends it against further destruction. In this sense, the work becomes visionary and the figure a seer and a conduit between two worlds, revealing to us the interconnectivity between human and nature.”

Website

2) LUKE HANNAM, THE COMPASS AND THE ROSARY

UNTIL 22 MAY: ANIMA MUNDI, ST IVES

Luke Hannam’s debut solo exhibition at Anima Mundi and represents a significant period of development and refinement in the artist’s practice. As the title eludes, the exhibition offers an exploration as to how the artist (and perhaps we), find a way through the often blinding complexity of the human experience – when cut adrift, are we to be guided by logic and reason or emotion and faith? It is no coincidence that the making of this work has coincided with repeated lockdowns and the worry and ensuing tragedy of a global pandemic, no doubt heightening personal anxiety which consciously or subconsciously inform thematic concerns and an intangible urgency. However these events have also provided space and time for Hannam to broaden his creative intent.

 Website.

3) JOHN BEARD – ‘HILL’

15 MAY – 13 JUNE: MESSUMS WILTSHIRE

Over the last year John Beard has painted the Fovant Hills in Wiltshire for a new body of work to be shown in the Long Gallery at Messums Wiltshire. Four large scale paintings and a selection of smaller-scale oils and watercolours form a remarkable exploration light, colour, and the experience of southern Wiltshire landscapes.

Beard was concerned with the sensation of landscape, the shifting light, colours, and moods and what it is to look directly and unmediated at a view. The Fovant Hills are a strange view, the hillside a great band of shadow spanning the canvas. The paintings toy with abstraction with the sky, hillside and fields below captured in horizontal planes and washes of colour.

 Website.

4) HUHTAMAKI WAB, ‘WHY DO YOU FOLLOW MY SON AROUND?’
‘BECAUSE I LIKE MITES’ – EDIBLE AND NON-EDIBLE PERSONS OF WABA AND POMPAKLEEN

17 MAY – 27 JUNE: EXETER PHOENIX

Solo exhibition of recent work by Devon-based artist Huhtamaki Wab who works across painting, sculpture, video and performance. This sculptural and performative installation presents a series of gongs, which will be played by the artist at various stages throughout the exhibition. These will sit amongst new paintings and fabric banner works.

Huhtamaki Wab’s practice operates within an animistic and non-anthropocentric world, whereby objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence and humans are not automatically regarded as the most important element of existence. Wab creates landscapes that are populated by interconnected spirits and humans to create ecstatic realities, which are heavily informed by the animistic culture from his birthplace of Japan. Influences are drawn equally from depictions of yokai (a class of monsters and spirits in Japanese folklore) represented in traditional ukiyo-e prints and from contemporary representations of this heritage in cultures such as manga.

Website.

5) LEONARD GREEN, IN SEARCH OF NORTHERN SOUL & EMMA HOUSLEY, CONSTELLATIONS

18 MAY – 19 JUNE: ACEARTS SOMERTON

IN SEARCH OF NORTHERN SOUL: Energetic movement in the dances related to Northern Soul music provide the energy for these paintings. Powerful, dynamic compositions overlaid with gestural drawing.
CONSTELLATIONS: Vivid abstract works layered with colour and drama, describing how we experience powerful memories and sensations. These paintings always strive for balance, and reflect a desire to make sense of how we relate to the physical world and each other.

Website.

6) CENTRESPACE BRISTOL: 2 EXHIBITIONS

JOE COLEMAN, GRAHAM COOK, STEVE WELSH, INSULA 28 MAY – 2 JUNE
SOPHIE LONG, THE WORLD AS THEY KNOW IT 11-16 JUNE

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INSULA: On March 23 2020, the UK went into full lockdown. The veil of isolation that fell across the country reduced the scope of our physical lives. In turn, this prompted an unprecedented period of reflection on what had been and the circumstance society now faced. The question was and still is – how will we respond and process detachment from people and place? Separated geographically between Bristol, Wiltshire and Somerset, Joe Coleman, Graham Cook and Steve Welsh took varied photographic approaches to the circumstance as it unfolded. Time based, interpretive and narrative respectively, Insula converges three streams of thought into one investigation.

THE WORLD AS THEY KNOW IT: “Dripping in colour and eccentric brush marks, I will show you my visual interpretations of the depleting animal kingdom. A combination of unseen pieces and some Sophie Long Art classics. I want to draw you in to my exaggerates of vibrancy and contrast. Art is not just a pretty picture but also tells a story, and the story I’m telling is through their eyes.”

Website.

7) HENRY TAYLOR

UNTIL 6 JUNE HAUSER & WIRTH, BRUTON

Henry Taylor culls his cultural landscape at a vigorous pace, creating a language entirely his own from archival and immediate imagery, disparate material and memory. Through a process he describes as ‘hunting and gathering,’ Taylor transports us into imagined realities that interrogate the breadth of the human condition, social movements and political structures. The American artist has taken over all five galleries in Somerset to present a major body of sculptural work and paintings evolving in unison across the spaces. Throughout his four-decade long career, Taylor has consistently and simultaneously both embraced and rejected the tenets of traditional painting as well as any formal label. He has amassed a staggering body of highly personal work rooted in the people and communities closest to him, often manifested alongside poignant historical or pop-cultural references.

Website.


 

WATCH OUT FOR…

OD ARTS FESTIVAL ALONE WITH EVERYBODY: 28-30 MAY Exhibitions, performances, film and workshops by local and international artists. New and specially-sited artworks will pop up in cafes, halls, houses, chapels and fields around the villages of East Coker and West Coker. OSR PROJECTS, SOMERSET  https://osrprojects.co.uk/projects/od-arts-festival-2021

KURT JACKSON BIODIVERSITY: 18 MAY-30 JUNE 51 artworks that highlight important issues around biodiversity VICTORIA ART GALLERY, BATH https://www.victoriagal.org.uk/

If you would like an exhibition or artist to be listed please email laurel.smart@blueyonder.co.uk for consideration.

 


 

The Friends of the RWA is an independent charity that supports the Royal West of England Academy, Bristol’s first art gallery. 
For just £35 a year Friends can make unlimited visits to RWA exhibitions and enjoy a host of other benefits, as well as making an important contribution to the arts in Bristol and the South West. Find out more and join up here.

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