LondonThe Sky is Leaden in the South: An Evocation Through Grey
Andrea Büttner, Helen Cammock, Lubaina Himid, Ellen Lesperance, Liliana Moro, Ruth Proctor, Charlotte Prodger, Lis Rhodes
Hollybush Gardens presents The Sky Is Leaden In the South, a group exhibition featuring recent work by Andrea Büttner, Helen Cammock, Lubaina Himid, Ellen Lesperance, Liliana Moro, Ruth Proctor, Charlotte Prodger, and Lis Rhodes.
The exhibition title refers to a description of the sky written on a journey, with the qualities and inconsistencies of weather to think through a set of interconnections that consider artworks that index the body, time and lived experience. The exhibition opens a dialogue between the artists’ works, weaving through and together myriad images and themes: the sea, the grid, shame, labour, violence, protest, presence, absence, intimacy. An accompanying booklet with text written by Lisa Panting journeys through varied voices, including those of Franco Berardi, Walter Benjamin, Stuart Hall and Joan Murray.
Andrea Büttner’s Curtain (2015), a large-scale woodcut of part-theatrical, part-vernacular voile curtain, plays with the idea of boundary, aperture and the demarcation of space. The work considers looking and seeing, who is hidden and who is on view. Also on view is Büttner’s Corner (2011–2012), a work that attests to her long-standing interest in shame and other artists’ work that deal with this emotion, including those by Dieter Roth and Martin Kippenberger.
Ambiguous Journeys (2018) by Lis Rhodes presents us with the artist’s voice tracing the realities of the neoliberal economy, in which lives are determined by increasing inequality and accumulation of debt. The distortions of corporate wealth and cheap labour are made to appear inevitable. There is no ambiguity in the reasons behind the journeys many make to escape conditions that are organised, imposed and untenable; war, poverty, and unemployment move people.
Liliana Moro’s practice employs words, objects and performance to create compositions that trigger a series of thought processes and responses. Two works by the artist shown here, Ouverture (2017) and Sono soltanto qui e ora? (2020), evince her interest in exploring how a work of art can speak to the complexity of the emotional and material conditions of life with minimal expression.
Ruth Proctor’s ‘spray’ drawings from 2006 combine an action by the artist with the production of an image, using spray paint on objects placed on manuscript paper. The works have a funereal quality to them, gesturing to the analogue age that Proctor was interested in mining while aware of the nostalgic possibilities presented by the objects.
In her series of hand-scoured lino prints, Helen Cammock asks us to address the use of words as constructs. Words have power; they are loaded, layered, explosive and weaponised, and they also caress, hold and champion. Also shown are charcoal drawings made by the artist’s father, George Cammock, a keen amateur ceramicist. They form an enquiry into legacy and the question of who is validated as an artist, and are part of an installation in homage to her father, titled And there is something about a mountain.
Metal Sea Paintings (2019), a sequence of painted A6 metal postcards by Lubaina Himid, engages with the sea, a decisive element in Himid’s oeuvre. Her work often transits between the sea’s global vastness and its domestic scale, revealing the interconnectedness of the two. The sea is part of a broader enquiry within the artist’s practice regarding the ways in which the English domestic space is upheld by imported labour, slavery, and other people transported far away from home to serve within a domestic space.
Charlotte Prodger’s photographic series draws on material encountered during the making of SaF05 (2019), the artist’s single-channel video work commissioned by Scotland + Venice for the 2019 Venice Biennale. The series comprises pages of a book showing 6th Century BC Assyrian stone relief panels, in the process of being cut and collaged by Prodger. In palace reliefs of this period the distinction between foreground and background appears flattened, counter to linear perspective’s illusionary depth. These spatial systems echo Prodger’s ongoing preoccupation with perspective, framing and time in relation to bodies and landscape. The title of each of the individual photographs is pulled from autobiographical content in Prodger’s voiceover for SaF05.
Ellen Lesperance’s XOXO (2019) references knitwear worn by women at Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, translating reference photographs first to American Symbolcraft (the American language of knitting pattern), and then to detailed, carefully painted designs on paper. By translating the jumpers into knitting patterns, Lesperance’s work is not merely an act of remembrance, but also a means of tapping into a culture that remains active, of invoking intimate experience lived and worn.
About the artists
Andrea Büttner (b. 1972, Stuttgart, Germany; lives and works in Berlin) creates work and exhibitions that connect art history with social or ethical issues, such as poverty, work, community and belief. Her work is based on extensive research into specific topics, articulated through a range of formats, including woodcuts, stained glass, weaving, videos and photography. She was nominated for the 2017 Turner Prize and is the winner of the 3rd Max Mara Prize for Women. She has exhibited widely, including solo presentations at Bergen Kunsthalle, Norway; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Walker Art Gallery, Minneapolis; Tate Britain, London; and Museum Ludwig, Cologne.
Helen Cammock (b. 1970, Staffordshire, UK; lives and works in London) works across video, photography, print, song, text and performance, exploring the interspace between the personal, political and poetic. She is a joint winner of the Turner Prize 2019, and was awarded the 7th Max Mara Art Prize for Women. Her work has been exhibited widely, including at Whitechapel Gallery, London; ICA, London; Reading Museum, UK; Somerset House, London; and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. In 2020, solo exhibitions of Cammock’s work will be presented at Wysing Arts Centre, UK, and The Photographer’s Gallery, London.
Ellen Lesperance (b.1971, Minneapolis, US; lives and works in Portland, US) borrows the symbolic visual language of knitting to memorialising and activate the histories of women activist and cultural figures. Solo exhibitions of her work have been held at Baltimore Museum of Art, USA; Portland Art Museum, USA; Seattle Art Museum, USA; Derek Eller Gallery, New York; and Adams and Ollman, Portland, USA. She has participated in significant group exhibitions internationally, including at Frye Museum, Seattle, USA; ICA Boston, USA; Tate St Ives, UK; Nottingham Contemporary, UK; and De La Warr Pavilion, UK.
Lubaina Himid (b. 1954, Zanzibar; lives and works in Preston, UK) is the winner of the 2017 Turner Prize. Solo presentations of her work have been held at Tate Britain, London; Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, The Netherlands; CAPC Bordeaux, France; New Museum, New York; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK; Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Germany; Spike Island, Bristol, UK; and Modern Art Oxford, UK. She has participated in significant group exhibitions internationally, including at Sharjah Biennial 14, UAE; Glasgow International; Berlin Biennale; Nottingham Contemporary; Tate Liverpool; and Gwangju Biennale.
Liliana Moro (b. 1961, Milan, Italy) works across sculpture, moving image, sound and installation, in a practice that continually reconsiders the relationship between individual realities and external spaces. Solo presentations of her work have been held at ALMANAC, London; MAXXI, Rome; Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como; MAMbo, Bologna; and CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco. She has participated in numerous significant group exhibitions internationally, including at Venice Biennale; De Appel, Amsterdam; P.S.1, New York; Triennale Milano; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and documenta IX, Kassel.
Charlotte Prodger (b. 1974, Bournemouth, UK; lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland) works with moving image, printed image, sculpture and writing, exploring the intertextual relationships between each of these materials. Prodger is the winner of the 2018 Turner Prize. She has presented solo exhibitions at Scotland + Venice, 58th Biennale di Venezia; Bergen Kunsthall, Norway; SculptureCenter, New York; Kunstverein Düsseldorf, Germany; Spike Island, Bristol, UK; Glasgow International; and Studio Voltaire, London. Her work has been shown in group exhibitions and screenings internationally, including at Tate Modern, London; Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, USA; New York Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival; Tate Britain, London; and London Film Festival.
Lis Rhodes (b. 1942, London; lives and works in London) works across moving image, sound, performance and installation. One of the leading figures of avant-garde film in Britain, her practice deconstructs the formal structures of film and utilises abstract visual language to facilitate a more participatory role for the viewer. Rhodes was awarded the Freelands Award in 2017. Her work has been exhibited widely, including solo presentations at Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK; ICA, London; and Tate Modern, London.
Courtesy Hollybush Gardens, London. Photo by Andy Keate.