Curator and writer Lee Sharrock has teamed up with Frances Casey, director of new West London Gallery 99 Projects on ‘Rebirth’. This group exhibition features some of the UK’s most exciting upcoming contemporary artists, juxtaposed with more established artists to provoke a visual dialogue with the theme of Rebirth. The exhibition runs from Friday 4th to Sunday 27th March and features paintings, prints, photography, sculpture and ceramics.
Over two years have passed since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, during which time we were confined to our homes due to lockdowns, prompting a reevaluation of the things that really matter, and a rediscovery and renewed appreciation of the healing power of nature during our daily walks or time spent in the garden.
As the days grow longer, sunlight and the gradual emergence of snowdrops promise the imminent arrival of spring, and with spring comes hope for an end to the pandemic, which makes the theme of ‘Rebirth’ seem like an appropriate one for the exhibition at 99 Projects.
The artworks in this exhibition are a reflection of either; a creative rebirth; a renaissance in creative output born from a period of hibernation and introspection; a spiritual rebirth; a sexual rebirth; recovery from an illness; a rebirth of studying, reading and learning; a period of new life, growth or activity; a cognitive or psychological rebirth; or a reinforced appreciation of natural beauty and the life cycle of fauna and flora.
Curator Lee Sharrock says: “Rebirth: The process of being reincarnated or born again. The endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The word Rebirth can have different meanings and different interpretations for different people. It could be a physical, creative, spiritual or personal reawakening. After two years of lockdowns and the pain and tragedy so many people around the world experienced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, I wanted to curate a joyful exhibition featuring artworks that make the heart sing and give hope for brighter days ahead. A rebirth after the darkness of winter and the dark days of the pandemic. Now more than ever we appreciate the beauty of nature, the sound of birdsong, the emergence of blossom on a tree, or the rejuvenating power of a walk in the woods. From the uplifting neon palette of Remi Rough’s abstract paintings and Bruce French’s abstract figurative painting inspired by a creative rebirth that took him to Japan to study with Japanese Sumi Ink calligraphy artist Rei Watanebe - Sho Sumi, to the exquisitely photographed Orchids of Misia-O’, and fauna and flora of Kristjana S Williams’s hand-cut collage; to the contemporary portrait of Narcissus by Eva Yates, which lends its name to daffodils, symbolizing the rebirth and new beginnings, the mental rebirth symbolized by LUAP’s Pink Bear, and Kay Gasei’s dreamy ‘Prophet’ painting, which was inspired by Kahlil Gibran’s 1923 book of poetry exploring the human condition, and Aaron Bevan Bailey’s painting ‘Blessings of Ngai’, which was inspired by time he spent with the Samburu in Africa, where he went to explore his African roots and ancestry, all the artists have experienced some sort of Rebirth. Perhaps the words of Lauren Baker’s neon ‘The Answer is Inside’ sum up the heart of this exhibition, for we all had to do a lot of soul-searching in the past couple of years, and hopefully we came out the other side stronger, and more willing to embrace life and be open to possibilities after a period of enforced introspection.”
A percentage of proceeds from any sales during the exhibition will be donated to Choose Love and Macmillan Cancer. There are personal reasons behind this choice of charities: 99 Projects founder Frances Casey received a cancer diagnosis during lockdown, and is making a full recovery, while featured artist Yurim Gough documented her cancer journey and recovery after being diagnosed with breast cancer, with a series of self-portraits featured in her ceramic art. One of these ceramics is featured in ‘Rebirth’.
99 Projects Director Frances Casey says: “I’m excited to introduce some of the most exciting emerging and more established contemporary artists working in the UK today, with the ‘Rebirth’ group show at 99 projects in Kensal Rise. A mixture of paintings, sculpture, prints and ceramics united by the theme of ‘Rebirth’, promises to provide an uplifting escape from the harsh reality of the past couple of years, and a hope for brighter days ahead.”
Curator Lee Sharrock was on the committee of Macmillan Cancer charity art auctions for several years, and has chosen Choose Love because they strive to help people who are fleeing war, climate emergencies, famine or persecution and trying to reach a safer destination where they and their families can have a better life. After all, we all deserve the chance of Rebirth.