Art exhibition at Birkbeck explores stories of ‘replaced lives’

Four artists have created an exhibition at the Peltz Gallery which tells a number of stories around the cultural idea of relating and belonging.

'The Three Disgraces' by Jan Bristow will feature in the Replaced Lives exhibition.

Stories of the First World War, refugees, the passing of time and generations of women will be showcased at the Peltz Gallery at Birkbeck, University of London in January as part of the exhibition, Replaced Lives.

Four printmakers have been commissioned by Birkbeck Research in Aesthetics of Kinship and Community (BRAKC), a research centre that works on the various cultural ideas of relating and belonging. They were asked to create a unique visual response to BRAKC international conference theme of ‘Replacement’, exploring the feelings of being haunted by absent people – even when their positions have been replaced.

The artists Jan Bastow, Catherine Guy-Murrell, Ros Ingham and Trish Roberts share a studio and have delved into stories of ‘replaced lives’. Jan depicts the dramatic impact of technology and worldwide mass communication on the lives of four generations of women; Catherine reframes viewpoints to emphasise multiple perspectives in the mechanics of perception; Ros uses metaphors to comment on both continuity and change in our links to the past and our relationship to objects; and Trish’s work reveals a true First World War story.

Jan said: “Focused on those fleeing war in Syria, my work seeks to show the uncertainties the refugees face regarding safety and xenophobia, in a world where a welcome cannot necessarily be guaranteed.”

Catherine similarly relocates displacement in the ‘no-going-back, no-going-forward’ position of a refugee in a collage enhanced by traces and layers of false transparency onto a disparate map.

Referring to her series Changing Times, Ros said: “I challenge the view that replacement entails a clean break from the past. I explore the exhibition’s theme through the concept of the passing of time, of change and continuity. Shadows of the past affect our present, small actions or objects assume an altered significance as we unpick our history.”

Trish’s work explores the personal First World War story of the tragic death of a wife and mother, whose sudden disappearance and replacement had consequences still in evidence today. The nature of her subject is enhanced by working into cloth, the layering of different materials – paper, cotton, muslin – representing the collage of a century of lives.

Working in 2D and 3D on paper and textiles, the artists have used new and more traditional printmaking techniques which conjure up hidden layers, shapes and textures. Each print is unique and original, deliberately created to reflect intense narratives and changing states of being.

The exhibition opens at the Peltz Gallery from 8 January - 16 February 2018. A private viewing and reception will be held on 11 January.

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