March Art Scoop: painting, typography, and story telling.

March 29, 2022

In March, the team have been all over the country visiting mostly free exhibitions, such as the Arnolfini in Bristol and Luton’s Hat District to Brighton’s Phoenix Art Gallery and London’s Tate Modern. Protecting free admission to national museums is a distinctive part of British culture, but is sometimes taken for granted. Our access to art and the benefits we derive from it relies upon a level of creative risk-taking and production that can be overlooked in the moment. It can be difficult to grasp the level of support – financially and emotionally – required to get to the point of being able to produce these works, and the lack of access for so many to do this but providing space to be productive should really come hand in hand with being able to enjoy the output.

This feature has an unplanned theme, different forms of art, such as painting, typography, and story telling work together to document British culture and experience. 

Banner Image from London Topia.

Gordon: “a celebration of diversity and visual excess”

Wafted from Paradise by Maria Meyer, Luton’s Hat District.

Wafted from Paradise is a new exhibition of works by Maria Meyer, which I visited at the Departure Lounge gallery in Luton’s Hat DistrictThe part of town that used to be famous for producing hats (and still does from one wonderful workshop) is now a cultural quarter, and this exhibition (running until 7th May) explores the vibrant typography and visual language of Luton’s shopping streetsThe colours and shapes seem to come from Kodakchrome images of Vegas, yet they’re inspired by the cafes, vape shops and nail bars of BedfordshireIt’s a bit kitsch but a celebration of diversity and visual excess, a shot of energy to make a trip to the shops memorable. 

Photo by: Gordon Seabright

Gemma: “visitors enjoyed sitting to read through stories of migration through the generations ” 

The British Library, Yinka Shonibare (Tate Modern) 

I wasn’t expecting Yinka Shonibare’s ‘British Library’ installation at the Tate Modern, and it came as such a wonderful surprise when I turned the corner into a library room packed with books all covered in Ankara fabric. The visual impact is stunning. But then looking closer there is so much more to it – with authors of the books linking to migrants that have influenced British culture, and some of those who were opposed. It is interactive and visitors enjoyed sitting to read through stories of migration through the generations and adding their own. For some reason, I didn’t feel comfortable adding my story (Do I have one? What is it?), but it reminded me of the wonderful Migration Museum in Lewisham Shopping Centre and how a visit there reshaped my thinking on diaspora and cultural identity.

Images: Gemma Dean


Yves “a really moving and affecting exhibition, and a particularly important story” 

Bring Me To Heal, Amartey Golding, at 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning

Amartey Golding’s exhibition Bring Me To Heal at the beautiful newly refurbished 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning in Herne Hill is the endpoint of a touring show that has been around the UK over the last year. The project is in two parts, with a film that follows a group of men out at night in the British countryside. The sound booms as they sit around a crackling and ever-growing campfire, their voices resonating deeply as they tell a fable about loss and healing. Later, they walk through the opulent rooms of the V&A in London, confronted by representations of Britain’s often violent colonial past. Accompanying the film is a garment made of knotted human hair, made for the film, and references acts of care through the process of hairstyling and body art. It’s a really moving and affecting exhibition, and a particularly important story to help tell in Lambeth, one of London’s most diverse boroughs. 198 focuses on providing support to artists and the community in its locality, through a program of exhibitions, events, outreach, and training opportunities.

The show was co-commissioned with Forma Arts & Media and runs until 1 May 2022.

Image: V&A

Rosie: “a fun and vibrant exhibition that spoke to the experiences of many young women today” 

Cass Art x University of Brighton Studio Award, Phoenix Art Space

I’m lucky enough to have an art gallery just down the road from me, so on my lunch break I popped into Phoenix Art Space, Brighton. There the main gallery hosted all six recipients of the Cass Art x University of Brighton Studio Award, six emerging females artists; Liberty Cheverall, Hattie Malcomson, Emily Moore, Miranda Forrester, Sophie Hulf and Jessie Yates. The artists explored painting, sculpture, illustration and tufting and their works complimented each other beautifully to create a fun and vibrant exhibition that spoke to the experiences of many young women today.

I later found that artist Liberty Cheverall had one the Cass Art and the University of Brighton Studio Award. She said “I have been able to use this time to explore, learn, make mistakes and figure things out as a working artist. Having the space to split my creative outlet and home life, especially after the past few years, is what I feel so thankful for. Not having to feel as overwhelmed from the financial pressures, as well as the amazing team (who have not only been so immensely welcoming), but have supported me so generously too, makes me incredibly grateful.”

Image: Rosie Niblock

Jess: “a strong narrative/story-telling quality” 

Subversive Stories, an exhibition of works by Paula Rego.

I visited “Subversive Stories”, an exhibition of Paula Rego’s work at the Arnolfini in Bristol. Her work has a strong narrative/story-telling quality; she is often inspired by and reinterprets fairy tales. I was intrigued by how certain images (a pelican, a pig) re-occurred throughout her work and in unexpected places. It’s not an easy view – there are a lot of brutal images and violent themes.

Image: Jess Slack