Home Is Where Your Heart Is Smashed To Pieces
Babak Ganjei’s work as a visual artist & writer is both a blend of cultural references and sharing his darkly funny inner monologue, which has given Babak his signature style.
Babak graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from Central Saint Martins in 2001, and continues to live and work in London. Since graduating he has been working independently as an artist, playing in bands (Absentee, Wet Paint), writing comic books (Hilarious Consequences, Early Learnings, Twit), hosting regular radio show "Hot Mess" on NTS radio and making comedy shorts that have played on Channel 4.
In 2014 Babak sold a set of twigs from his neighbourhood on eBay for £62. He has turned books by Jeremy Clarkson, Nigel Farage and Donald Trump into works of blackout poetry, and tried to sell a painting of his credit card back to Barclays for the value of the debt. It didn’t work but he made a “friend”.
He sent his first email in the Saint Martins library and vowed the internet would never take off. He has been on the back foot ever since.
The Manchester Contemporary
A body of work inspired by the Greek Myth of Persephone, McCaig invites the male gaze in erotic propositions that positions the unseen and the poetic as artwork. In this body of work, McCaig presents the personal as political and plays with erotic elements in a performative and suggestive manner.
This work is informed and inspired by Greek Mythology, Man Ray and Bresson, as well as poking fun and playing with the male gaze, through this body of work she demonstrates the hypocrisy inherent in the art worlds patriarchal policing of how a woman may present her body, sexuality and desires beyond the accepted conventions of art history.
Cutting The Turf
An exploration of emergent cultures that form in working class towns across Northern England. This series of works interrogate ‘gatherings’ through the lens of crowd theory, questioning the ownership of public space, the manifestation and ownership of cultures, and the tension between state power and mass resistance through sport and leisure.
The artist’s research often connects to the socio-cultural significance of mass gatherings, establishing a common connection between seemingly disassociated watershed moments in British history, in which everyday people initiated behaviours that would become our future cultural norms. Here he links the industrious workspaces of the 1880s packed with cotton mill weavers, the swaying crowds of the North’s football terraces (established by those same weavers a century earlier), and the swarming numbers at illegal raves of the 80s, as people reclaimed the empty spaces that cotton abandoned.
The imagery in these textile works, are manifested through the reconfiguration and reconstruction of original source photography from police surveillance stills. This now normalised monitoring activity was still a fairly new practice in policing in the 1980s. Both raves and football terraces were documented with the intention of both recording activities and regular faces in the crowds, whilst also capturing the police handling of any incidents as evidence of procedural compliance.
Little Bruises, in collaboration with Prism Contemporary.
A deviation from the photographic imagery she is known for, her use of audio, video and light brings the performative aspects that she typically captures in image, to the forefront of the exhibition space. Working in new formats reflects a shift within her personal life, as she interrogates her relationship with sex and love through new mediums, re-evaluating her place within both.
This body of work builds a dialogue around the room. Just as sexual chemistry is developed through conversation, affectations of the body and touch, visual queues or the intimacy of environments; the artworks found in ‘Little Bruises’ represent these subconscious details in the building of sexual attraction, romance and connection. In this exhibition Lydia paraphrases the words of performers, distils the sounds and visuals of seduction and expresses herself through language. Through this she creates the space that sex and romance inhabit; anxiety, excitement, intrigue, anticipation, warmth, love.
These works communicate a personal transition; the desire for casual sex becoming a desire for intimacy and tenderness. One of McCaig’s most open pieces, describes her interrogation of her patterns and behaviours that have sprung from childhood trauma. She opens up about her struggles and attempts to re-evaluate her desires. This personal interrogation of the need to balance her distinct interest in erotica, seduction and intimacy whilst breaking down the walls through a newfound vulnerability.
Seven Pink Paintings, in collaboration with Prism Contemporary.
Danny Davidson uses the colour pink as a representation of how our eyes and brains perceive the world around us, creating our own interpretation of visual stimuli, that often do not exist when broken down to a scientific reality.
Danny has previously chosen to exhibit artwork in a non-typical gallery space and to a non-typical gallery audience. Previous exhibition sites have included a cabin in the woods, a haunted mansion ruin, and a derelict terrace row, weeks away from demolition. Danny staged these exhibitions for an audience of birds, ghosts and syntesthetes respectively.
Seven Pink Paintings saw the artists reverse this format, exhibiting paintings at Prism Contemporary Gallery, an environment free of distraction. Offering an investigation into the unequivocal truth, of what, and how we see.
Danny uses paint and colour to express, sound, mood and multidimensional experiences brought about through meditative states. The results of these conversations move between recognisable imagery and abstraction. Using traditional tools of oil paint, canvas and brush as a medium of expression, Danny uses oil with remarkable liquidity, often washing the canvas in strokes, removing the technique from the traditional uses of the medium.
Through this approach the artists creates heteromorphic outcomes which comprise of pool-like forms across the canvas, that invite the viewer in, to then seemly one colour canvas.
No Sweeter Taste On My Tongue, Nor Bitter Taste On My Lips, in collaboration with A Modest Show.
Lydia McCaig delves into the complexities of relationships, intimacy, seduction and the pain of giving too much of yourself to another person. Processing her thoughts initially through text, she moves text into imagery, using the camera and placing herself in the frame to visualise the emotion behind her writing in a photographic series. Through this work she navigates the constant shifts of dynamics in relationships and the unintentional demands that are the consequence of relationships. The power shift within relationships becomes metamorphic; through descriptions of hunger, dining and devouring. Is the gaze of desire, a reduction of your value? Are you a person or a meal?
Blancmange, in collaboration with A Modest Show.
In his new work for A Modest Show, Elliott Flanagan invites you to eat yourself to death. It is the night before tough new laws from the Convention for Climate Protection and Environmental Recovery come into force. In the morning, the start of meat rationing. Responsible consumption and production will be introduced. The mixed grill will be outlawed, an illegal Sunday roast will carry a fixed penalty fine and a SWAT Team will descend on any BBQ without a permit. In this gastronomic climax, Flanagan studies how in the shadow of an impending climate and nature emergency, what we eat has become a moral question. Our public and private habits, traditions and rituals towards food and drink are intensified during this one last party of overflowing plates, spilt glasses, swollen bellies and crumbs in your lap.
A one night only event presented through video, audio, installation and text.
SECOND ACT POP UP GALLERY
Over the weekend of The National Festival of Making, 2022, The Second Act Gallery held a pop up gallery space to showcase the work of various represented artists, including Lydia McCaig, Jamie Holman, Danny Davidson, Dan Edwards, Masimba Hwati, Azraa Motala & guest artist Elliott Flanagan.
JAMIE HOLMAN, MASIMBA HWATI & JASLEEN KAUR
THE BRITISH INVASION
Commissioned by the British Textile Biennial, curator Alex Zawadzki invited three artists with colonial narratives visible in their practice to enter a dialogue with her and with each other in order to develop the parameters for a group exhibition that responded to the ‘Cotton Exchange’ in Blackburn, now a semi derelict space; it had once been ‘the stock exchange’ of one of the country’s wealthiest towns of the Industrial revolution as a consequence of weaving and cotton production. Each exchange that passed through the hands of mill owners added a new layer of colonial violence, through appropriated cultures, enslavement, false promises, stolen lands and resources. Developed over a twelve month period of zoom calls, discussions, provocations and curatorial conversations the artists confirmed their works and installed the exhibition despite the challenges of geography, local, national and international lockdowns to deliver a headline exhibition for the Biennial. The British Invasion is three artists articulating their inherited and lived experiences of colonisation; sharing these experiences through the lens of both the colonised and coloniser. They consider the ongoing cultural, social, identity and behavioural impacts of colonial history on the current mainstream. How objects of desire, sports and entertainment were often used as a form of distraction and subterfuge by the British, in the colonisation of foreign nations; before becoming embedded in cultures and re appropriated in music, fashion, sport and language. Through these works and shared dialogue, Jamie Holman, Masimba Hwati and Jasleen Kaur pick away at the subtexts of colonialism through personal stories, leaving us to sit with the unresolved mess left behind.
In collaboration with Prism Contemporary
North West based artist Azraa Motala, a recent graduate from the Chelsea College of Arts and finalist for the Robert Walters Group #UKYoungArtistsAward in partnership with Saatchi Art Gallery exhibiting a full body of work in November 2019 at Prism Contemporary, in her first solo exhibition. Exploring her identity as a young British Asian Muslim women within a contemporary Western space Azraa creates large scale oil paintings seeking to appropriate the image of Eastern Women as depicted from orientalist paintings from the 18th and 19th century. “My work seeks to untangle culturally inherited expectations, and the overlapping aspects of my identity as a young British-Asian Muslim woman within the contemporary Western space. I am inherently interested in the way in which women from the diaspora have been represented in both the past and the present day. As women of the diaspora, our identities are constructed from the spaces in between.”
TRANSFORM AND ESCAPE THE DOGS
Jamie Holman’s commission for the British Textiles Biennial begins in the archives of The Harris Museum, Preston and Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery; and ends in a web of social history, and reflection on a human desire to transform.
Investigating the ‘Politics of Cloth’ his research uncovered hand painted, rich silk, trade union banners paraded by Britain’s workers, leading him to commemorations of mass gatherings, and the social, spiritual, cultural and political transformations they generated. Book-ended by two eras; the industrial boom of 18th Century: Blackburn’s cotton Industry and the era of decline two centuries later, which provided an opportunity for a new counter culture to occupy these empty spaces for illegally sited parties known as ‘Raves.’
Like the stories found in them, these artworks are a result of shared experiences and collaborative working. A commemoration, and documentation of the lost stories from the North’s everyday people who did extraordinary things - together; often against the odds and against all expectations of those who employed, governed and ruled them. From poetry to painting, Pendle witches to Pendle house and the birth of Acid House. Our people can’t be kept down.
The Second Act secured and supported abstract Blackburn painter Adil Amin, in showing a collection of his work in SEVEN store, Liverpool as part of their pop up exhibition programme.
My Reality, Your Reality, Its Reality and Shirts
While constrained in dimension, form and material, a wide range of references are funnelled into the larger of Tiney’s paintings. Paint smears, corporate logos, ‘how to draw guides,’ infographics , caricatures, pop culture references, coffee beans, tea cups, beer cans and neon colours spill forwards; captured in paint and expressed skilfully through a curious but sympathetic blend of gestural, representational, printed and graphic mark-making.
The T-shirts are harvested from thrift stores and alike, picked out for their size and basic colour - the graphics (if any) are mainly secondary at this stage of the process - some shirts are bought for the graphic/branding alone, the jokers in the pack. A methodical process of archiving, collating, wearing, staining, screen-printing, stretching and treating T-shirts to form neatly-squared makeshift canvases, mainly produced in batches; has seen the artist evolve a ‘creative production line’ over several years, liberating himself from the measured pace of hand-painting as he resolves these art works with satisfying speed. The uniform dimensions of this series create a building block set to devise geometric formations in each new space, with a colour spectrum spanning 100 shades.