Taking the point of ‘arrival, the first landfall reached after a long journey’ as a point of artistic departure, the LandFall project reflects the artists’ different approaches to forming new patterns of collaboration with local communities on both sides of the Atlantic.
From Ingrid Pollard’s ceramic casts of origami paper boats, which stretch in a flotilla across the gallery in a disquieting collision of weight and lightness, to Beth Secor’s extraordinary embroidered portraits in which threads of history and ancestry are tied together into affecting beauty, the works lend themselves to the circular themes of departure and return, loss and transcendence, and explore the ongoing reverberations of the triangular trade in enslaved Africans and sugar, the way it has shaped modern Europe and affected the lives of people of the African diaspora.
Jamal Cyrus’ drawing and photography forges an eclectic criss-crossing of the Atlantic in the wake of the Titanic, pre-Columbian Olmec statues and 1960’s funk music, whilst Godfried Donkor’s re-interpretive collage work explores ideas of beauty in the southern US states. There’s a tidal power in Faisal Abdu’ Allah’s moving portraits, captured in post Katrina New Orleans, and the call of the sea is heard throughout haunting new poems by Dorothea Smartt, which follow Bilal, a boy buried in a plot marked ‘Sambo’s grave’ in 1739 Lancaster, and are presented here in video form. The exhibition will feature the world premiere of Dreamwinds, a tone poem for chamber orchestra and voice by renowned composer Dominique Le Gendre.
LandFall follows-on from the exhibition Tradewinds, the inaugural show in a new display launched within London Sugar and Slavery, the only permanent gallery in London dedicated to exploring the history of the transatlantic slave trade. Co-curated with artist Ingrid Pollard, the LandFall project builds on residencies at Project Row Houses in Houston, Texas and at londonprintworks in 2006, and is supported by the Arts Council.
Ingrid Pollard, Curator and contributing artist, says: “The artists contributing to LandFall are from the various coastal stopping points of the Atlantic Gulf Stream. The histories which ride its currents are central to our work, which has at its basis the natural phenomena of winds, sea and the stories of transportation. LandFall explores how we negotiate first encounters and their resonance through time. It follows the journey of points of arrival as they ripple through history and layer our memory.”
Francis Marshall, Senior of Curator of Paintings, Prints and Drawings says: “Museum of London Docklands looks at the history of the city by examining the point at which the world and London meet: the port and the people who lived, worked or passed through it. We’re thrilled to be the venue for LandFall, an exhibition which explores the idea of the circular transmission of human experience between Europe, Africa and the Americas.”
LandFall runs from 6 February to 31 May 2009 at Museum of London Docklands, and is free with a Museum admission ticket.
The premiere of Dominique Le Gendre’s Dreamwinds will take place at Museum of London Docklands on 5 Feb 2009, at 7pm.