About the exhibition

At a moment in history in which freedom, health, and inequality are at the cultural fore, this exhibition centres the reflections of disabled and marginalised people on the interwoven pandemics that Covid-19 has induced. Through this exploration of creativity, isolation, community, and crisis, a legacy unfurls. At its heart is a questioning of the sentiment that underwrote many decisions – personal and political – through these events: “we’re all in this together.”

Disabled people constitute almost two-thirds of Covid-19 related deaths in the UK and millions of people are set to live with Long Covid in the coming years. We are at a precipice beyond which lies an uncertain future. Might the conversations around what links us together, sustains us, and nurtures us deliver the change many demand – to attitudes, infrastructure, and society? Or, as a guise of “normality” resumes, are these fragile bonds and precarious relationships at risk of being cut or stretched beyond endurance?

At any time of social and economic uncertainty, it is the marginalised who are placed at greatest risk. The sick get sicker, the poor get poorer. From this perspective, society’s tapestry appears both taut and tattered. Examining this more closely, these artworks tap into the deep uncertainty of the moment, to interrogate the proposition that recent risk and adversity has been collectively and proportionally shouldered, unravelling threads of superficiality to expose both raw hope and endemic injustice.

All Bound Together? asks us not to forget the tensions and truths that surfaced this year, before which time it seemed that meaningful change to the status quo was impossible. It also acknowledges and archives the many homes that community has found in defiance of the odds; places where people have carved out space in which personal experience is afforded complexity, a means of tethering to others. This exhibition therefore serves as a testament to radical care and solidarity at times of struggle, as well as to consider the knottiness of the landscape in which these struggles take place.

David Hevey, Shape CEO and Artistic Director said: “We have been through grim locked-down times which have shown that society is now even more unequal. Responding creatively, these Shape Open 2021 artists take on that inequality and take apart the idea that ‘we will get through this together’. Shape is proud to champion these disabled and nondisabled artists, many of whom were hit hard by lockdown and who live at the sharp end of modern times, as they creatively question where diversity, disabled people, and other outsiders will be in the ‘new normal’ emerging from lockdown.”

Elinor Hayes, Curator, Shape Arts said: “It was largely due to the innovation and dedication of creatives that many of us made it through lockdown; streaming content, experiencing culture from our couches. And yet, as we ‘reopen,’ it is culture that is most at risk. A similar parallel exists for disabled people, who’s understanding of the importance of community and care has been a vital resource. At this juncture, when all the adaptations that have made contemporary life liveable risk being reversed, this exhibition carefully unravels the threads that have tied us together at the moment they’re most likely to fray.”

For All Bound Together? Shape commissioned artists Abi Palmer (All the worlds you’ll never see), Colin Lievens (People’s Postcode Lottery sponsors Emmerdale), and Akissi Nzambi (But you don’t look sick) to create new artworks directly responding to the exhibition’s themes.

If you enjoy All Bound Together? please consider leaving your feedback in our audience survey. All our feedback is used in the shaping of our future programme and helps us to continue championing disabled and marginalised artists.

About the exhibition BSL video

The Artists

Abi Palmer

All the worlds you’ll never see (2021)

All The Worlds You’ll Never See is a short sensory film designed for virtual space.

It explores Abi’s relationship with my housebound cats. She lives on the third floor in an “accessible” building that doesn’t make it easy to get outside. Abi had always intended for her kittens to be indoor cats, but she started to understand their own desire for an outside which they cannot reach. It is very similar to her own, which is why Abi brought them into my home to begin with.

“I, too, hunger for the outside world. I, too, am craving wildness.”

Abi has been exploring ways of reproducing the outside world for them in miniature. She forages for found objects such as feathers, plants, and fallen twigs and leaves, and builds small forests for her cats to explore. She wanted to invite the experience of becoming lost in nature, to experience reverie, which feels like such a crucial part of being alive on this planet. The process of sharing her findings has become a regular aspect of our play and bonding.

In this instance, Abi attempted a direct translation of the outside world, by bringing it inside. “I wanted my cats to experience the magic in finding life in the strangest of places.” Near her home, a fantastic meadow of wildflowers grows by a large and polluted roundabout. Abi picked some of the flowers and brought them home.

However, when she researched the plants, Abi learned that many of these flowers are toxic to cats and potentially very harmful.

The conflict here was painful to understand. She tried so hard to create an accessible version of the outdoors for my cats but was clearly projecting what she felt they should know rather than being led by their needs. It’s also true that in picking the flowers, they instantly lost the joy Abi was trying to convey.

This so often happens in access. “I am left reflecting on what it means to translate an experience in ways that are both enjoyable and safe for the bodies who will be taking part. How do you evoke the essence of a poppy without needing to use a poppy? It always comes back to centering the user.”

Animal welfare statement: throughout this process, the cats were closely supervised and were not permitted to bite or play with dangerous plants. No animals were harmed in the making of this film.

Abi Palmer BSL video

Akissi Nzambi

But You Don’t Look Sick (2021)

“But You Don’t Look Sick” (2021) focuses on invisible disabilities and the way their legitimacy is constantly put into question by non-disabled people. In the absence of visible evidence, pain, fatigue, and frustration are often downplayed or completely overlooked. The pressure to conform to societal expectations adds to that of managing everyday life and work.

My Bed (2021)

“My Bed” (2021) depicts a contradiction many disabled people are familiar with: while beds can be places of safety and comfort, they also act as barriers that keep the outside world at bay, triggering feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Akissi Nzambi BSL video

Annie Crawford

Piles of Pre-Speech (2020-2021)

Created over the first lockdown in 2020, then animated in 2021, this work explores the concept of rhythm: the rhythm of speech, reading, and writing. It was painted in a concertina sketchbook over a period of three months and is approximately six meters long. It uses the same abstract forms seen in all of Annie’s works, which represent words in their unformed state. When closed this sketchbook is symbolic of a notebook – a private space. When open it becomes an expanded space, like unfolding one’s mental operations or their private thoughts. As you gradually open the painting it’s like reading a book, however, the shapes have no meaning to the viewer (they do for Annie) which in some way renders the reader illiterate. It’s a contradiction – a book that can’t be read but by the creator. But, whilst they cannot ‘read’ these shapes, the sense of movement, rhythm, the chaos, and even the colour create a readable story without words. Essentially, it is a representation of the way Annie’s (neurodivergent) brain works in relation to the creation of words. Chaotic and confusing. A suggestion of Annie’s inability to translate pre-speech (meaning the creation of words in your brain before they become verbal words) into speech.

“Insight into my private thoughts, but by the nature of it those thoughts remain private. The audience, frustrated by the fact they cannot read it, and questioning what it says, are then experiencing the same frustration I feel at trying to communicate in a way which does not compute with my brain.”

Annie Crawford BSL video

Catherine Cleary

Personal Independence Payment Face-to-face Assessment (2021)

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is a government benefit that replaces Disability Living Allowance. This work focuses on a part of the application process for this benefit, where applicants are asked to attend a face-to- face appointment, designed to assess how their disability affects them.

This piece was originally a poem, written after attending a PIP face-to-face assessment. The text of the poem was later adapted to form the basis for this film.

Re-imaging the interview through performance, the video uses shadow play and whisperings to explore dynamics of power and miscommunication. The film embodies sensations of not being understood and of speaking out to an audience during an event veiled in smoke and mirrors. Coping with the demand for intrusive personal exposure, in order to be granted financial help and stress from fear of bad faith on the part of the examining bureaucracy, are revisited in this artificial shadow land.

Tower (2020)

This video was made from footage taken at Mont St. Michel in northern France. The site is difficult to navigate and is buffeted by high winds. The climb is steep and the towers are not accessible for many. Filmed on a crowded day before lockdown, Tower uses footage and recordings taken at Mont St Michel to explore the shifting meanings and interpretations of place and to make a sensory note of the collective and individual experience of exploring the site and its towers.

Tower was shown in December 2020 at APT Gallery as part of a show titled, Feeling for Murmuration, which looked at our desire to belong and be part of a collective sense, alongside the sensory demands and complexities of contemporary life.

Catherine Cleary BSL video

Colin Lievens

“Emmerdale is a huge special interest of mine and has been one of the few things that has stayed consistent for me throughout my life and the pandemic.”

In March of 2020, People’s Postcode Lottery, Emmerdale’s current sponsor, started playing adverts with the slogan “community, it matters.” Hearing that three times an episode felt like a complete kick in the teeth to Colin, after just having moved back into their childhood home away from the community they had finally found in the last few years.

This work uses a pillow on a bed to highlight the inherently domestic context within which these feelings took place.

“I couldn’t hug my friends, so I had to hug my pillow.”

Colin Lievens BSL video

Emelia Kerr Beale

Within a system of connectivity, (2021); Together forever, (2021); SUPPORT SYSTEM, (2021); purple spiral, (2021); green purple spiral, (2021)

These new works use the spiral motif as an attempt to visualise the bodymind, a disability studies concept that positions the mind and body as a single integrated subject, disrupting dualist notions of separation and fundamental difference.

For Emelia, this approach provides a framework through which to think about interdependence, connectivity, and togetherness, both within bodies and between bodies. Understanding themselves as a bodymind also helps Emelia cope with the weight of being a medicalised subject experiencing supposedly ‘disparate’ conditions, and hold the complexities of multiple overlapping illnesses in the palm of their hand.

Emelia Kerr Beale BSL video

Funmi Lijadu

Lost/ In Transit (2020)

This image was made using a stitching technique, layering strips of paper for an interesting effect. The imagery of a blue sky and deck chairs captures the energy of being on holiday and content with lack of schedule. During quarantine, Funmi pondered on whether the notion of ‘getting away’ had shifted, since we were all forced to slow down.

Tough Times (2020)

This image is a combination of two separate images and could be read as a take on emotional repression displaying itself on the human body. The image of a clenched fist is embedded in pop culture memory, as evident in the viral reaction image meme of Arthur’s fist. Beyond this, the idea of endurance, unpredictability, and unresolvable pain seemed profound at the time of the work’s creation.

Black Madonna (2020)

This work was a meditation on the elevated status of Virgin Mary, Mother of God as the ideal woman, an image of holiness.

Funmi Lijadu BSL video

Georgia Murphy

“What draws me to printmaking is its ability to (re)produce bold, striking imagery and convey messages or ideas in a simple way, often leading to its use within grassroots activist groups and social movements.

I created these two relief prints over the course of the pandemic. They represent the two states of mind I have found myself in during the last year and a half, and the tension between them: anger and a feeling of hopelessness about the huge inequalities that the pandemic has not only highlighted but worsened, but also, a feeling of hope that something better may grow (or even be growing) from the cracks.”

Not All In The Same Boat’ is born from the frustration and anger of repeatedly seeing people talk about the pandemic as something that we are “all in together,” whilst willingly ignoring the structural and intersecting inequalities that have left many struggling much more to keep their heads above water. It also attempts to capture the collective fear of being Sick and Disabled in a society that has ignored the most vulnerable throughout the pandemic and continues to do so as restrictions lift and we move towards the “new normal.”

Collective Care Is The Future,’ originally created for Swarm Dynamics online exhibition ‘Visions of Radical Renewal,’ is inspired by the practice of mutual aid, and the new networks of collective and community care that started to develop at the beginning of the pandemic. It is also a celebration of the alternative systems of care that have always existed, and been essential for the survival of many marginalised and oppressed groups throughout history.

Finally, it is the imagining of a better future and a call to action. Covid-19 has further exposed the failings of capitalism and the current system for protecting people, and has shown that it is down to us all to care for each other and carve out something new.

Georgia Murphy BSL video

Juan delGado

Living through the precarity of everyday (2020)

“If I could share with you a secret of what I discovered last year. It was the week just before the spring when I eventually had to surrender to it: the fact that I would not travel to Norrbotten, a place in the Arctic circle, where I was filming ‘In the Shadow of the Midnight Sun.’”

Unable to continue his project, which he had already invested so much energy and time in, Juan spent the first days of lockdown waiting and hoping this would be a temporary disruption. But reality stubbornly showed that this time it was seriously different: surreal, forcing us to cut off from friends, from the places we love going, our art, community, birthdays, graduation, pubs, prayers… We woke up to a nightmarish time that has still not ended.

During the days that followed, taking coffee in the morning, cooking again and again, Juan began to notice that there was somebody to whom he had paid no attention in the months pre-pandemic while busy organising trips, writing proposals, preparing equipment and pitching for funding. With all this gone, and after days of repeating the same choreography, he was confronted with somebody who seemed a stranger: himself. Juan started looking at his fingers, feeling his aching knees. “I felt the physicality of that body that people called Juan.”

During these days it felt to Juan as though his body and his self were two different entities. Friends, unable to meet, shrunk into the square of his computer, their voices becoming electric pulsations, distorted like his own sense of self.

Picking up his abandoned camera, Juan decided to go out for the first time in months. Looking around with the eyes of a stranger, he found a renewed curiosity. “I was mesmerised by the texture of the curtains, the growing crack over the fireplace, the silhouette of a tree against the sunset.” A whole catalogue of subjects and situations emerged.

Gradually, the objects that Juan had detached from acquired new meaning and the same was true for his body. The stranger in the mirror began to communicate with him; the pain of its isolation reinforcing the beauty in the present that Juan had taken for granted.

Juan delGado BSL video

Louis Blue Newby

Periploi_1/3 (2021)

‘The archives is a fiction. Nobody knows that better than queers – people who have had to cope with the fiction of a socially prescribed straightness. Queers make up genealogies and worlds. So let us write it down.’ José Esteban Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. 

Named after an ancient mapping technique, where coastlines were described through paragraphs of text as a device for sailors to estimate their positions at sea, the title of this work is specifically inspired by Samuel R Delany’s invocation of the periploi as a tool in mapping the gay sexual landscape of Times Square in his seminal text Times Square Red / Times Square Blue. 

Periploi_1/3 (2021), a panelled silkscreen on engraved plywood and aluminium, maps an archival space, one informed by queer and subcultural printed ephemera. The archival function of this work serves to devote space to these important artefacts, ones which have been long neglected by sanitised and cis-heteronormative mainstream cultural archives.

The work also seeks to question the belief we hold in archives as objective in their historical accounting. As outlined by Muñoz in the quote above, archives have always been results of subjective decision making as to who is and is not represented in our cultural histories.

“I wanted this subjectivity to be held at the fore of this work, to do so I leaned into my personal subjectivity when choosing, placing, and scaling each individual artefact. With some images large and some small, some on wood and some on aluminium, some engraved and some printed, the visual hierarchy at play across the works surface becomes nuanced and complex, reflecting the choices made within the canons of our social histories.”

This work is part of a series of three.

Louis Blue Newby BSL video

Mathilda Roach Osborne

Banquet of Floating Heads, 2021

Loneliness is a complex feeling. Any person who enjoys one’s own company can tend to fall into the trap of becoming a stranger from the outside world, and consequently fearing it. We have all seen how the world has changed drastically over the past year and a half, and we have had to face the prospect, to some degree, of loneliness.

This has made Mathilda examine her sense of self more, and who she is in relation to others. There has also been a personal sense of freedom in the isolation and loneliness; a feeling of not having to alter or hide part of oneself to please others when communicating. From this, Mathilda became interested in the idea of a person’s ‘inner self’ being made up of many parts – many different ‘selves’ – which, when combined, make us who we are.

This idea led Mathilda to create this piece, which she began just before the pandemic, and became disheartened with, only to readdress as the lockdown eased.

“In the painting, more parts of myself began to emerge, some beloved, while others are more difficult to face. Some of the characters I could also see as not being a part of myself at all. Maybe, these are the people around me, who I wish to understand, like I wish to understand myself.”

This brought Mathilda back to thinking about loneliness and isolation; how loneliness is caused by both internal and external struggles, and how we need to try to understand ourselves to be able to truly connect with those around us.

Mathilda Roach Osborne BSL video

melissandre varin

les mains de ma mère/ my mother’s hands (2021)

“My mother’s hands have been transformed by Rheumatoid arthritis. My existence has been de-limited by the white gaze. In this short film, I interrogate my conflictual relationship to authority, the Black mother figure, and whiteness as a destitution of power.”

Filmed and assembled from a place of gratitude, this film is punctuated by “to be you,” a poem written in 2019 for papaya, a series of transnational afrofeminist interventions. The tension between current and former/individual and collective selves is palpable.

The Covid-19 pandemic marked a physical rupture with hostile environments melissandre used to perform in. They spent time with their hands thinking about intergenerational trauma, grief, and healing. Their mother transitioned to another form 17 years ago and melissandre is now envisioning ways to critically celebrate her passage on this Earth.

“Sourcing love by any means necessary, I am sharing this film as a mothering gesture, an offering to myself and all of us.”

melissandre varin BSL video

Mote Scherr

‘Uncertainty’ (2014)

Estimating emotional tipping points.

‘The Unifying Search for the Missing Piece’ (2020)

The life-long search for fulfillment, chasing for what’s missing in the hope of being ‘complete’ one day.

‘Temporary Withdrawals’ (2014)

Hopefully awaiting uncertain returns.

Mote Scherr BSL video

Natalee Decker

Bubble (2021)

“This is a feeling that’s been bubbling up inside me – that the social isolation I’ve experienced throughout the pandemic will not end when the world opens back up. I’ll stay in my bubble due to some combination of architectural inaccessibility, health concerns, or the ableist social organisation.

The bubbles in the “o” of FOMO (fear of missing out) returned abruptly. I’m watching hot girl summer through a soapy phone screen on my mom’s couch. The celebratory shots to shots of packed clubs are a reminder of how difficult it is for me to access these spaces. And access desire. I, too, want queer joy.”

Whether looking in or looking out, the bubble can create certain optical amplifications and distortions. They can cause a flattening of the exterior, a contraction of worlds, membranes of separation, voyeuristic snow globe fish tanks, safety within a shared ecosystem of values, feedback loops of the same breath exhaled and inhaled and exhaled and inhaled. Natalee’s own personal bubble can make them feel so unseen in the dark and yet so magnified when they venture out, drenched in the gaze.

Things are always bubbling up.

“Some days my only liquid is bubble water and champagne, but unfortunately I’ll never have a bubble butt.”

Recent bubbles:

  • The ones that form between my hands as I vigorously lather with soap until they pop on the raw dry skin cracked from repetitious cleaning.
  • The ones that I imagine a child blowing in the sunny park I imagine myself sitting in when I imagine getting out more.
  • The ones that dance over the purple LED glow of the electric tea kettle.
  • Academia.
  • The musical ones that form in my body.
  • Algorithmically engineered echo-chambers.
  • The ones that are a feeling rising in my chest.
  • The ones that are suspended inside my bottle of hand sanitizer.
  • “Bubble mate” love in the time of bubbles.
  • Lips blowing bubble kisses.

Anti-bubbles are formed when a droplet of liquid becomes totally surrounded by a thin membrane of gas within a body of fluid. Natalee watched a video of a Youtube scientist creating anti-bubbles in beakers of soapy water. They added food coloring, so that when the anti-bubble popped, a smooth explosion of color swirled to dissolution.

“I want to pop, swirl, turn this isolation, and every feeling I have inside-out to crisp in the sun.”

Natalee Decker BSL video

Oriele Steiner

Let that go (2021); Grounding (2021); Touch (2021)

All three works in this series were made by Oriele this year as she explored her own relationship to mindfulness and meditation. Simultaneously, Oriele has found her artistic attention turning to the hands as a metaphor for this embodied mode of living. These meditations on the symbolism of hands are underpinned by Oriele’s first language: sign language. In returning to this memory, ironically, Oriele is able to ground herself more fully in the present.

“In moments of stress and anxiety, especially in lockdown, it has been important for me to ground myself and try to live in the present as much as possible. As the world reopens, remembering that it’s ok to stop and connect with the present is important. It’s been difficult for me to come to terms with everything reopening and be ok with it, but I feel I have now created a little world that I can retreat to when I need to.”

Oriele Steiner BSL video

Rach Wellbeing

The context of this work is Rach’s perspective; from many years of being disabled after being very physically active.

“I fell into isolation. This experience brought me many opportunities for learning, self-recognition, watching my desires connect, reach out, and be loved affected me in unforeseen ways.”

Even through retail consumption, a human urge – a desire to fill the gap of isolation and loneliness – manifested itself in many proud ways. In reflecting on how she uses her connection to nature to contextualise her place in the world and try and live in harmony, Rach has been able to find more balance and peace in her lifestyle.

Covid-19 highlighted these extremes for the majority, affecting people glimpsing – for the first time – these limits, restrictions, and the experience of being isolated within the world. This levelled the playing field and allowed the planet to be heard.

“As we too claimed nature, we heard each other again more clearly.”

In isolation once more, looking at her life, Rach began to assess what she needed and what she did not. For the first time in a while, she realised the ways in which she’d been swept along by a current of trending consumerism despite feeling she needed nothing beyond her health, friends, loved ones, and nature. Having been let down by the social model of disability pre-pandemic, facing closed doors and barriers to access, suddenly the majority had a need to connect remotely and Zoom became the norm.

Now, all we hear is “when things go back to normal.” So, will the disabled in society be ignored again? “I question whether anyone really cares or not. For years, nobody even saw me or asked if I needed shopping, and then suddenly they did. Has this had a long lasting effect? Will the caring fade away or will we fall headlong into destruction and greed? I believe this is up to me and you.”

Rach Wellbeing BSL video

Robin Smith

Outside Studio, 2020

Frustrated by lockdowns, shielding, venue closures, the cancellation of his first solo exhibition, and the push for everything to go digital, artist Robin Smith took his studio practice out into the front garden of his home in south London for six weeks over July and August 2020.

Repurposing a perfectly situated bin-shed into a worktable, shaded by a large leafy tree, and with socially distanced support from ActionSpace’s Associate Artist Charlotte Hollinshead, Robin set up an improvised art studio where he could work throughout the summer heat and share his artwork with housemates, neighbours, and passersby.

Outside Studio turned Robin’s making process into a sociable experience at a time when people were desperately looking for ways to re-connect with others. Like the weekly Clap for Carers, it provided an opportunity for neighbours to meet up and talk to each other and it gave Robin a greater sense of involvement in his local community.

Robin says, “Painting outside was lovely, you get fresh air and you can paint outside, that’s it!”

Outside Studio Video

Outside Studio Audio Description

Robin Smith BSL video

Rowan Riley

A Pocketful of Posies (2021)

A Pocketful of Posies is Rowan’s first work specifically for the digital environment. It’s always been imperative to be able to touch and feel the materials Rowan works with, and the tangible tactile nature of the resulting object is what she finds most accessible about art making.

By considering a digital screen as the frame for this work – and the webpage it is housed on another frame – the viewer is further removed from experiencing it as one would in a physical space.

This limitation had Rowan considering how distance can be exploited to change or enhance perception- and how seeing things from new perspectives results in interrogation without normal frames of reference.

Rowan started with a small field of tiny overlapping hand-embroidered French knots, bullion stitches, and seed stitch. Through a microscope these were transformed into a strange, alien, fluffy, seaweed-ish noise, and unpicking the stitches revealed more of the criss-cross weave of the fabric. The series shows what could be seen under the scope of the remaining thread fibres while unpicked to the naked eye. Also revealed in the last two images is the damage to the underlying fabric caused by the process of stitching and un-stitching.

Text has been a constituent feature of almost all of Rowan’s works, but for this, words were her way into understanding what she wanted to explore and provided answers to some of the decisions that needed to be made.

Names given to shades of emulsion paint were chosen for their connotations with Rowan’s experience of the last eighteen months, and their corresponding colours determined the colours of thread used for the stitches. By exploring the words of the names first, while sewing Rowan was conscious of the thoughts the name of the colours had engendered, and as a result she was sewing (and then removing, mostly) with the threads of her experience of the pandemic. A Pocketful of Posies is a blush red colour, and of course a reference to the apocryphal association with the Black Death and its transmission.

The microscopic images were printed onto Polaroid emulsion film and video is embedded into the prints accessible with the free Polaroid Originals app. The AR viewer feature recognises the information stored in the prints and the embedded content will play after a few seconds.

Rowan Riley BSL video

Sarah Yu Zeebroek

Quarantine drawings (2020)

“In March 2020, when the first lockdown was announced, the hypochondriac beast living inside my head suddenly became more active than ever. I knew I had to do something to calm this situation down. For if I didn’t, I was absolutely sure I’d be running around all day long with a fever thermometer between my teeth. I’d be eating mercury and end up dead with a kind of silver smile on my face.”

Sarah figured the best way to get out of this was to create a game for herself. One that could be played daily, freely, and rapidly. So she started collecting interesting snippets which were then randomly glued onto colored sheets of paper. This playful method generated surprising new compositions.

The next step was to come up with an idea for a drawing within five minutes. And this after having indulged in the latest internet news about the pandemic.

The works you’ll find in this series portray Sarah’s thoughts and frustrations, her questions and wonderings, her (dis)illusions and surprises regarding those first weeks of lockdown.

Consider these drawings reflections of an unprecedented time in the history of all mankind.

Sarah Yu Zeebroek BSL video

Shadi Al-Atallah

Dipped myself a little too deep (2021)

Lately, Shadi’s work has been exploring the idea of stagnation. They use swamps as a reference for this state of being. Swamps are the perfect parallel to feeling stagnant, like still water and wet soil. It’s an uncomfortable and undesired state.

Like swamps, this undesired state can bring forth a new type of life and can give birth to a new way of being. Shadi’s recent paintings are a product of a stagnant state, an attempt to force life out of a swampy disposition.

Shadi Al-Atallah BSL video

Steven Fraser

Delay (2018)

Delay is a queer love story told in a performance script and presented in an illustrated online digital Zine. It is a story about autism and queerness and is a personal and intimate account of a distinctive and individual life.

Delay is a story about waiting. It is a love story where a person is waiting in a bar for their partner to arrive. It attempts to capture the moment in a relationship when you can’t decide if putting the effort in is worth it.

As you read the script in the zine, the performance unfurls in your imagination. The script can be read in a bar (where the story takes place), or at home at your own leisure.

“With this Zine, I wanted to try something new and experimental with words, language and illustrations. It is more like a comic book that concisely imparts the inner thoughts and frustrations of the characters within the story. As thoughts and feelings can be difficult to express through words, the language and presentation is abstract and obscure and asks the reader to draw their own conclusions. Delay is therefore an experimental piece.”

The zine is 28 pages and in colour and can be read on a device such as a smart phone or tablet. You can also choose to print it off and read it if you like. If you do this, feel free to pass the printed zine on to someone else when you are done.

Steven Fraser BSL video

Yo-Yo Lin

Re:collections / 再次·回顧 (2021)

Re:collections / 再次·回顧 remembers lost language in the body, across land and in alternate universes. Following a recent return to the artist’s motherland in Taiwan during the pandemic, the film is a first-person account of returning to a site of medical and familial trauma years later.

Moving through the artist’s intimate thoughts, Re:collections explores the fallibility of time and ambiguousness of placehood in an ever-shifting disabled, immigrant body. Melding together new media performance, self-documentary, and frameworks of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Taoist cosmology, the film interweaves the mundane with the magical, offering openings for grief, wonder, and radical multiplicity.

“Growing up as a child of immigrants, my parents struggled to navigate the medical industrial complex in the US and chose to have all of my medical interventions done in Taiwan. This was a place where they knew the language, had support, and healthcare was affordable. For me, as an American born, I was no longer fluent in our language and often find my “returns” to Taiwan associated with illness — memories of feeling helpless in a hospital bed, not understanding what was happening around me or what was being done to me, my parents finding healer after healer, treatment after treatment to make me somehow ‘well.’”

This is Yo-Yo’s first attempt at creating a bilingual piece in Chinese and English; they would like to thank artist, writer, and friend, Annette, for translating with such care and authenticity to my experience and also Despina, Yo-Yo’s long-time music collaborator, for creating the music from sounds recorded from Taiwan.

Special thanks:
Mom & Dad, Lin Siblings, A-gong, Xie Si Fu, Kuan Zhen, Sean Si Fu, Dr. Zhu, Dr. Chang, Zack Filkoff, Pelenakeke Brown, Yidan Zeng, Jasmine Lin, Avneesh Sarwate, David V Britton, Skylar & Kara, Sean Baptist & Chih-Hwa Yolanda Chen 陳之華. A million thanks to the ancestors and gods that guided me for this project.

Yo-Yo Lin BSL video

Yvonne Mabs Francis

The Impossibility of Being in the Brain of Someone Living

This large painting was inspired by the film Being John Malkovich. Behind a cabinet, characters from the film find and take turns to fall into a tunnel which leads into the head of John Malkovich. It is a fantasy most of us would like to realise some time in our lives. Its impossibility and the film’s absurdity illustrates the limitations and loneliness of being human.

In the painting a tree supports the brian drawing up new life while dealing with the dead. The colours from the Renaissance arch parallels both the daring and the absurdity of the film, while the black and white figure is a shadow bringing conflict and doubt.

Inside the Bell Jar

‘Inside the Bell Jar’ was inspired by Sylvia Plath who, in her book ‘The Bell Jar,’ wrote that depression was like being in a bell jar, although sometimes fresh air could enter. Yvonne has always thought that we are born in a bell jar and stay there until we die; somewhat chained to our condition.

“It’s a bit scary but I have always felt scared, only saved like the fresh air Sylvia mentioned, by a few people who love me or even those who are kind to me, although no one truly understands the fear I mentally experience or the pain from my lifelong physical condition of Rheumatoid Arthritis. No one can be in the brain of another.”

Yvonne Mabs Francis BSL video

The Rooms

Each room in this exhibition explores the many ways in which themes of isolation, grief, and community have found homes in recent months. You can navigate these rooms, and read more about their content, using the blueprint map below.