Last week, The Royal Academy opened its doors to the Summer Exhibition which is entitled Re-claiming Magic. It's co-ordinator Yinka Shonibare RA writes that the exhibition celebrates the transformative powers of the magical in art and a return to the ritualistic.
Included in the show is a new work entitledLifting The Curse, which has been created in direct response to the curse that artists Gilbert and George issued to the Royal Academy and its members earlier this year. The artist duo, the first to be elected to the Royal Academy in 2017, resigned last year after plans to show their work were reportedly turned down. Stating, We herewith return our medals and certificates…We curse the Royal Academy and all its members. Whether these are flippant words or targeted toxic energy, it's a serious business to curse someone. As one of the cursed, I feel an obligation to address this act with a robust response.
Made from tree branches tied to metal welded framework, with a belly full of charcoal wrapped in blanket. A heart made from charred wood, lacerated and bound in copper Lifting The Curseis designed to absorb dark energy.On the penultimate day of its completion, a shamanic practitioner carried out a ritual connecting, giving focus and potency to the grubby working as the old moonpassed over to the new.
Lifting The Curse now stands in one of the galleries of the Royal Academy doing what it needs to. When the exhibition finishes in January 2022, its entrailswill be delivered to the river and burnt, transmuting negative into positive energy.
Lifting The Curse, 2021. Height 250cm, width 110cm, depth 110cm
The Mummers' Tongue Version II,2021. Bronze edition of 9. Height 152cm, width 73cm, depth 33cm, including steel frame.
At this year's Royal Academy Summer Exhibition you will find these two newly editioned sets of bronze Mummer figures mounted on Welsh Slate. The sculptures areinspired by meetings with The Armagh Rhymers and members of the mumming community in Co.Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
The Mummers' Tongue Figures V & VI, 2021. Bronze edition of 9. Height 152cm, width 35cm, depth 33cm, including steel frame.
This image was created at the studio in collaboration with South West based photographer Simon Colgan, using the collodion wet plate process. This early photographic technique invented in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer, produces visually unusual effects that appear to dissolve subject matter into something that is other worldly, placeless and timeless.
The Mummers Tongue Goes Whoring Amongst The People, 2021. Wet plate collodion ambrotype image printed onto rag paper, edition of 25. Height 78cm, width 93cm, depth 3.5cm, framed.
As one of several versions, this artwork was originally included in an exhibition entitled Awaken from the Dream of Reality which took place at Anima Mundiin St.Ives, 2012. The image was created by passing two coloured LED lights across a sculpture of the two dancing figures, casting shadows onto the wall and photographing the effect.
The inspiration for the work comes from attending a music festival some years ago - a friend and I had just arrived, when two young people came into vision. Both dressed as elves with long pointed hats and high on ketamine, they danced in a discombobulated frenzy. The boy held out a long thin ladle containing a substance and the girl's nose lowered down upon the spoon, with the precision of a honey bee whose proboscis descends upon a spring flower to find the nectar. Bisto Kids Gone Wrong were the words that immediately sprung to mind, as I witnessed this perfect benediction. On my return from the festival, I stopped off at a grocery store to buy a can of Bisto gravy and noticed with shock and disappointment that the image of the boy and girl smelling gravy had vanished from the label, never to be seen since. They now remain immortalised in sculpture and print.
The K Project - Bisto Kid Gone Wrong, 2019. Archival print on paper, edition of 25. Height 76cm, width 98cm, depth 3cm, framed.
These figures were directly inspired by powerful impressions left on my mind by three wooden carved ancestral figures that I saw many years ago at the wonderful Royal Academy Exhibition entitled Africa, The Art of a Continent, 1995-6.
The carvings struck me in a way that few sculptural forms have. The experience was apparitional - like witnessing spirits emerge from gouged trunks of wood, that knocked upon the window of our present day reality - spirits from a different time and place.
The Green Man, was commissioned by Sir Richard Carew-Pole in 2012 and installed in the grounds of Antony House near Torpoint. Some months ago, one of the leaves was cut from this sculpture and stolen. To replace the missing part, a new leaf was modelled and cast to bring The Green Man back to its former glory. Antony House and Garden is open to the public, check their website for full details here.
As someone who has attended Padstow's May Day 'Obby 'Oss since 1989, I wanted to mark the moment when in 2011, for the first time, the 'Oss entered the Anglican church on the hill. It danced its way down the aisle, to the altar and lowered to the ground to bow before Christ on the cross. It was a deeply moving and shocking moment when both when the Pagan and Christian worlds collided.