I knew who I was
Free Space Gallery, Kentish Town Health Centre
Curator: Melissa Hardwick
25th January – 18th March, 2016
This two-month exhibition was enormously fruitful for me from a professional standpoint, and I am grateful to MFA colleague Liz Morison for instigating the project and soliciting our involvement. This was the last off-site exhibition we would organise together as MFA students (33 of us participated), and I think the overall ease of coordination we experienced attested to what we had learned from past exhibitions together.
Melissa Hardwick, Curator, described the show: “The work ranges from sculpture, painting, photography to installation, and all have been created in direct response to the Kentish Town Health Centre…The name of the exhibition comes from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It forms part of a longer sentence “I knew who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then.” The artists felt that it was appropriate to their studies; their Masters is a time to take risks, to experiment with their practice and perhaps to change several times. It also rings true with feelings that patients can experience when visiting such a centre.”
The work that I included in this exhibition comprised 3 mixed media textile canvases highlighting different aspects of healing and growth. Viewed as one piece rather than as three distinct works, it seeks to reflect the way natural processes of dissolution, healing and growth occur not in clearly defined, chronological stages, but holistically and simultaneously. When curator Mel Hardwick expressed an interest in my piece, I initiated formal arrangements to donate the work to the Centre. The Long Way Home now makes up part of the Free Space Gallery’s permanent collection.
I have learned the importance of taking every opportunity to widen my professional network, and to be alert for possibilities within each experience that could lead to further development. In this instance, I met with Melissa Hardwick and began arrangements for a 2017 exhibition with another group of working artists I exhibit with every year. As part of the same conversation, we discussed the possibility of my taking part in and eventually running workshops at the Centre, or alternatively applying for a residency there. I am looking forward to following up these opportunities upon graduation.
Through this project, I gained a deeper sense of my territory as an artist. It confirmed that I feel in my element in non-traditional settings, despite (or perhaps because of) the practical and aesthetic challenges that need to be addressed, and it strengthened my growing interest in health and well-being through the arts. Having honed a greater understanding of the preparation and coordination that goes into an exhibition, it was extremely valuable to have a lived experience of what it feels like when all the ‘moving parts’ coordinate.