St James's London - Protest and Remembrance - Alan Cristea Gallery

28 - 30
February - March

Protest and Remembrance - Alan Cristea Gallery

A showcase from four British and Irish women artists, who use drawing to examine elements of protest and/or remembrance

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Protest and Remembrance at the Alan Cristea Gallery, London, (28 February - 30 March 2019) brings together four British and Irish women artists; Miriam de Búrca; Joy Gerrard; Mary Griffiths; and Barbara Walker; all of whom use drawing to examine elements of protest and/or remembrance through a range of subjects that include war, political demonstration, burial sites and lost industry, set in both the urban and the rural, past and present.

As a society we often come together, in times of celebration, in times of crisis, to protest or to mourn, or simply to remember. Whether we are reflecting on our past or challenging our future, these artists are telling us the story of something that should not be forgotten.

Drawing on over a decade of image-making and research on themes of protest and urban space, Joy Gerrard (b.1971) archives and painstakingly remakes media-born crowd images from around the world. Gerrard’s crowds are viewed from above, suggesting the remove of media observation, while the fluidity and drama of their moment is expressed through precise, expressive mark-making. Working in Japanese ink on both a small and a large-scale, for this exhibition she has made new paintings and drawings of protest scenes from London, including the recent anti-Trump demonstration, and the anti-Brexit march which actually passed by the doors the gallery. More poignantly, the looming Brexit deadline of 29 March 2019 will pass while the exhibition is taking place, making these protest images even more relevant.

Barbara Walker’s (b.1964) works depict people who are often cast as minorities, inviting the viewer to look beyond the anonymising act of categorising or classifying citizens. This particular body of work is part of a series of drawings which highlight a forgotten history of black soldiers who fought for Britain in the First and Second World Wars.

Working from public photographic archives, Walker creates beautifully drawn portraits of these men and women that effectively transfer visibility back to the subject, offering an alternative and balanced interpretation of a nation’s history that celebrates the contribution of African and Caribbean servicemen and women to the two World Wars. Walker makes these portraits in a range of media and formats, from small embossed works on paper to paintings on canvas and large-scale charcoal wall drawings.

Miriam de Búrca (b.1972) focuses on the ancient burial sites in Ireland called cilliní which were used to bury unbaptised babies (until as recently as the 1980s) and many others considered ‘unsuitable’ for consecrated ground: unmarried mothers, the mentally ill, unknown strangers, disabled children (or ‘change- lings’), suicides, excommunicates were all laid to rest here, exiled to a state of eternal limbo. One way she responds to these strange spaces is to select samples of plant life that grow from these grounds, making detailed studies as a way of interrogating the land and the charge that it holds.

Mary Griffiths (b. 1965) investigates the lost industry of coal mining, through the study of a colliery in Lancashire, Astley Green Colliery, which has been transformed from a place of work to a place of leisure, from mine to museum. Griffiths’ carefully rendered graphite drawings on gesso panels pay homage to the miners who used to work there, the volunteers who now run the museum, and the intricate machinery that was used to bring up the coal from the depths below.

This exhibition will run until 30th March 2019 at Alan Cristea Gallery.