Layered and Interwoven

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Layered and Interwoven: Exploring post-colonial identity through collage, textiles and montage video

This exhibition is held in association with Culture&’s festival: Time, Space and Empire.

Time, Space and Empire is a cross arts programme exploring the connections of the Greenwich World Heritage site with Britain’s maritime and colonial past. The programme is delivered in collaboration with the V&A Wedgwood Collection, Royal Museums Greenwich and the University of Greenwich.

Preview: Tuesday 16th July 6-8pm

16th July – 13th Sept 2024

Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich Galleries

Artists

Emmanuel Boateng;

KV Duong;

Funmi Lijadu;

Tova McKenzie-Bassant;

Anh Nguyen;

Divya Sharma

This exhibition brings together six artists, whose work seeks to map out and articulate the postcolonial experience through making processes that embrace and repurpose the material world. Each of the six artists represented take a hands on approach to the material evidence of cultures and histories, employing that materiality through techniques of reconstruction to ask questions about identity in a world impacted by the legacy of colonialism.

Emmanuel Boateng explores the stories and histories embedded in Ghanaian Kente cloth as a metaphor, making works that aim to challenge and disrupt existing historical Eurocentric influences and lineages in Western museums and art spaces. Kente, here, represents cultural and post-colonial identity, and is embodied in the artist’s making process, which explores repetition, pattern, colour, and geometric shapes, where repetition is one of the central themes. In these works, repetition found in Kente is utilised to shift between the boundaries of painting and weaving; from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional form process or concept.

Emmanuel Boateng, Hope, Medium:Kente, tweed. Cotton yarn on canvas, 2023, 40 x 30 cm

KV Duong is an ethnically Chinese artist with a transnational background; born in Vietnam, raised in Canada, and now living as a queer person in Britain. He examines the complexities of Vietnamese queer identity, migration, and cultural assimilation through personal and familial history. During his MA studies at the Royal College, he has created works on latex, highlighting its historical connection to French colonial rubber plantations in Vietnam, while simultaneously embracing its sensuality and symbolic association with the queer experience. Laden with symbolism, this glue-like substance acts as a signifier and protagonist, fusing together materials of importance in his life to help shape and contextualize his identity and ancestral past. The recurring motif of a door or portal signifies access and the limitations imposed by societal constructs, particularly those associated with colonial and LGBTQ+ history.

Recent exhibitions include ‘Too Foreign For Home, Too Foreign For Here’ (Solo) (Migration Museum, 2022) and ‘No Place Like Home’ (Museum of The Home, 2023, co-curator and lead artist).

KV Duong, Foreigners Here, Acrylic on latex, Vietnamese newsprint, painted wooden stretcher, 198 x 100 cm, 2024 and Family Portrait Acrylic on latex, painted wooden stretcher, 198 x 100 cm, 2024

Funmi Lijadu  is a writer and collage artist, energised by boundless experimentation. With a surrealist sensibility and a contemplative approach, she is deeply invested in humanity, the histories that led to our present, and imagining better futures. Her collages featured in Layered and Interwoven reflect this interest in history, especially The Nation Project and Black Brit(ish): Locating History. These are two collages that contemplate the complexity of how colonisation shapes national and ethnic identities profoundly, in the form of a strange ‘hybridity’, in scholar Homi Bhabha’s words. Having exhibited at the Shape Arts Open in 2021, Funmi is interested in community engagement related to art, and has run collage and zine workshops at Tate Modern, Barbican Centre and partnered with organisations such as The Young Women’s Movement.

Funmi Lijadu, Black Brit(ish) Locating History (2018) approx. 104cm x 136cm

Tova McKenzie-Bassant is showing work from a recentseries: Perspectives, in which she investigates the multi-layered processes involved in coming to terms with, and understanding, the perpetuality of personal growth, where we are all in states of continuous internal motion, inside bodies and minds made up of shifting layers and unceasing fluidity. Printed onto reflective aluminium, these works, which started life as small collages, invite the participation of the viewer into this contemplation on shifting identity, further complicating the matrix of how we see ourselves, and how we are seen, without final resolution.

Tova McKenzie-Bassant, Europa, print on brushed aluminium 111.3 x 90 cm, 2023

Anh Nguyen‘s Echoes of Identity explores the intricate tapestry of historical and cultural influences shaping contemporary Vietnamese identity. This video delves into the rich mosaic of Vietnam’s past, highlighting the diverse cultural threads woven into the fabric of its present. From ancient traditions and colonial impacts to modern globalization, each element contributes to the complex and dynamic understanding of what it means to be Vietnamese today. Echoes of Identity invites you to reflect on the colonial impacts on Vietnam and its role in forming the nation’s evolving identity.

Anh Nguyen, ‘Echoes of Identity 2024 (Screenshot)

Divya Sharma‘s work has been deeply influenced by the intricate tapestry of her personal experiences, cultural heritage, and post-colonial identity. She focuses on place-making and reimagining vanished homelands, hidden civilizations, and forgotten peoples. By weaving myths into her ideas of past and future, she seeks peace with her colonial shadow. Migration, a key part of her family’s history even in India, shapes her perspective and stories, reflecting on current political issues. The diasporic experience highlights the interplay between past, present, and future, evoking nostalgia, belonging, and displacement. The work explores alternative spaces, creating imaginary universes that mirror our potential and offer new perspectives on reality, reimagining life in both past and future

A founding member of the Neulinge Collective, Divya has co-curated six shows in the UK and internationally. In 2022-3 she was selected for New Contemporaries and the 17th International Lodz Textile Museum Triennial; she also  participated in NAE Open, CroydonBID, and received ACE funding. She  has been selected for the Wells Contemporary (August 2024). Divya hosts the ARTiculate podcast.