Simnikiwe Buhlungu, Rahima Gambo, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Zohra Opoku, Tabita Rezaire, Lerato Shadi and Michaela Yearwood-Dan
Laced is a network of artists linked to curator Loren Hansi Gordon through shared connections to Africa and its Diasporas. For Laced 'Africa' is England, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, France, Germany, Guyana and the US.
As a temporary stitchwork to hold together a set of ideas, impressions and connections, Gordon began the curatorial process by developing a poetic text to guide the selection and commissioning of works and her research has culminated in a rich web of interconnections that offer viewers a glimpse into the multiplicity of female diasporic experience.
An immersive group exhibition of painting, photography, video, sound, textiles and drawing, Laced is experienced as a visual landscape of vivid colours, deep-ocean waters and lush tropical vegetation that is at moments contemplative, poignant and empowering. These visual motifs are core elements in the practice of celebrated painter Michaela Yearwood-Dan (b. 1994) as well as that of emerging multimedia artist Rahima Gambo (b. 1986) and Zohra Opoku (b. 1976), whose practice brings together photography, screen printing and textiles.
Several of the artists employ textiles to tell their stories, threading their practice directly to the city of Nottingham, a historic centre for textile production and lacemaking. Lerato Shadi (b. 1979) will show work from a series of wall-hung textile pieces begun in 2020 - red crocheted squares and rectangles sewn onto raw linen canvases and mounted on stretcher bars - while Wura-Natasha Ogunji (b. 1970) presents a selection of hand-stitched drawings on architectural paper.
Ogunji's wider practice interrogates the thresholds between public and private space and the experiences of women in the public sphere is a recurring theme in Laced, particularly the everyday action of walking. Opening to the public at a time when we are again reminded of the repeated threats to women's freedom to move around freely, Laced invites us to consider whether we are truly at liberty if we still feel fear.
The featured artists are all skilful makers, profoundly invested in the process, materials and physicality of making art and interested in the burdens of physical and emotional labour placed on women across societies, particularly women of colour, as well as the role technology and the internet play in producing new forms of labour.
Love as a source of creative energy, as articulated by feminist scholar Bell Hooks in her seminal text All About Love is also a key curatorial inspiration that can be traced through the show.
Whilst foregrounding the work of contemporary African artists, the exhibition issues an invitation to viewers to reflect upon shared human experiences that transcend categories of gender and geography and which have been fundamentally up-turned, questioned and negoti-ated anew in this pandemic era. A powerful and wide-ranging exhibi-tion, Laced is a meditation on the threads that connect us to our-selves and each other.
Laced is supported by the Ambitions for Excellence fund by Arts Council England.