As part of the International Women’s Day exhibition ‘Some of Us Are Brave’, artists Favour Jonathan and Kedisha Coakley discuss the importance of memory in their artistic practice as Black Women.
Nomadic gallerist, Sukai Eccleston of CasildART will be hosting a talk on the power of memory on Friday 18th March at 6pm at New College, Oxford.
What is the role of memory in art? Can it be used to reconstruct the past? How does memory aid our understanding of history, politics, race and culture?
This conversation explores the Power of Memory in contemporary Black art by exploring the artistic practice of multidisciplinary artists Favour Jonathan and Kedisha Coakley.
Favour Jonathan is a Benin-born British artist who works primarily with metal to create large- scale sculptures. Last year, Jonathan won the Sky Arts Landmark challenge for her monumental mesh sculpture of Ira Aldridge holding a watch, signifying his role as a changemaker who went against the time. The tribute to the African American actor, who lived and worked in Britain during the mid19th Century, has been installed in Coventry City Centre, but it is not the first monument Jonathan has created. Her sculpture of Claudia Jones, the Trinidadian journalist and activist who inspired the Notting Hill Carnival, defines Jonathan’s practice, which she asserts is guided by her ancestors to share their stories and bring forgotten lives into the present. ‘We should know about the achievements of those who have gone before us and we should be celebrating them’.
Kedisha Coakley is also concerned about erasure. Working with sculpture, photography and printmaking, Coakley considers material memories by looking at objects and cultural symbols to reframe narratives about history and culture, and to challenge conventions of curatorial practice. Her Wallpaper Mural series, which is on view in the group show, Some of Us Are Brave, stems from Coakley's interest in the designs and popularity of wallpaper between the18th and 20th centuries which coincided with the expansion of the British Empire. At once lyrical and haunting, the wallpapers utilise patterns and symbols like the fleur-de-lis which was used as a mark of supremacy in the punishment and branding of enslaved Africans, and fuses it with Ghanaian Adinkra symbols which represent hope, freedom and endurance.
Both artists, although different in their style and execution, invoke themes of memory that question the self and our collective experience. Constructing spaces that inspire dialogue, they invite the viewer to consider how memories are made and how these shape our feelings of belonging and understanding of the world.
Some of Us Are Brave
The talk is one in a series of events CasildART has organised to complement the current exhibition Some Us Are Brave which Sukai Eccleston has produced in partnership with Fusion Arts.
The exhibition and talks are part of the International Women's Day celebrations in March.
The exhibition features the work of 15 emerging Black women artists and is currently on view at 95 Gloucester Green, OX1 2BU. Book your free tickets here.
The exhibition has been curated by Sukai Eccleston, founder and owner of CasildART a not for profit that supports contemporary Black artists by exhibiting their work in traditional and non traditional settings. This is the third rendition of Some of Us Are Brave, which we have developed as a UK-wide touring exhibition.