Culture

Where to gallery-hop around London as curated by the coolest women on the art scene

Galleries have reopened and the city is pulsing once again with the return of culture, art, music, people. We hear from the women leading the art scene on what galleries they’re heading to this summer and what they’re most excited to see

By Emma-Louise Boynton

18 June 2021
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. Aindrea Emelife, art curator, art historian, presenter and member of the Mayor of London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm. Emelife also oversees Plop Residency, a London-based international residency which she founded alongside artist Oli Epp.

I love Goodman Gallery’s programme at the moment.

Its group show last year, Living Just Enough, introduced me to the work of Tabita Rezaire, whose work I recently curated for a public art exhibition on bus tops and billboards, and I am working with her on a few upcoming projects. I love its current show featuring Kapwani Kiwanga.

Institutionally, I am ever-inspired by the Serpentine Galleries’ multidisciplinary magic. It has such a vibrant programme and I feel very lucky to have Hans Ulrich Obrist as a friend and mentor.

Kapwani Kiwanga is such a varied artist but I am so drawn to her sculptural work.

The large work on the ground floor of the gallery is golden spun fibre, harvested from the botanical plant agave sisalana [sisal], is typically used for rope and twine. It looks like a mass of blond hair but is particularly important in relation to Tanzania’s political, economic and social history.

After wandering around the Goodman Gallery, I usually head to Hagen for my favourite coffee in town.

Or Chucs for Cacio e Pepe and art-world people-watching.

This summer, I can’t wait for Lubaina Himid at the Tate Modern.

I’ve been so inspired by her work and impact, so I’m excited to see her work receive the long-overdue recognition she so deserves.

At the moment I’m feeling inspired by the mass of creative talent coming out of Africa.

Exploring and understanding my Nigerian diaspora heritage has been one of the most rewarding experiences of the past year or so. The duality of diaspora is beautiful and complicated.

Understanding myself has helped me understand the world, and the impact I’d like to have on it. I really do believe art has such a potent and transformative power – it is the emotional memory of the world.

I just finished reading Women in the Picture: Women, Art and the Power of Looking by Catherine MacCormack.

I devoured it in a day and I’m currently reading a lot of books relating to political art, public sculpture and African/Black art history as I write my forthcoming books: A Little History of Protest Art, which is published by Tate, and How Art Can Change The World: A Manifesto, which is published by Frances Lincoln. Both come out in spring/summer next year.

When I set foot in a museum, I’m reminded of my love of art and all the reasons I love my work.

Being among artists feeds my soul. I love understanding the makers of art as a means to articulate their ideas and messages in my curation. And whenever I get any sort of feedback – be it an email, DM, a chat after a talk or event, I am reminded that my greatest fear is to lead a self-centred life. I must make my work have living value – I want to help shape a better world, and speaking and responding to people brings that alive.

My latest exhibition, Citizens of Memory, is currently on at The Perimeter.

I’ve also curated an evening of performance, poetry and dance programming at the People of African Diaspora Pavilion at the London Design on 25 June.

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Aindrea Emelife, art curator, art historian, presenter and member of the Mayor of London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm.

2. Christabel MacGreevy, artist and co-founder of the fashion brand Itchy Scratchy Patchy

I am currently loving the programme at David Zwirner and the Zabludowicz collection.

And I always go to the Museum of Everything when it’s in town [it’s temporarily closed]. Its most recent pop-up space was on Chiltern Street in an old Barber's shop. It shows outsider and folk art.

One of my favourite pieces of art, Jacob wrestling the Angel by Jacob Epstein, lives at the Tate Britain.

I love the solidity, brutality and vitality of his work.

A gallery tour around Soho is always good…

… down Cork Street and then to Bar termini for a drink afterwards.

This summer I’m most looking forward to going to two shows at the Royal Academy…

Tracey Emin/Edvard Munch and Michael Armitage. I can’t wait to see them both.

The Lynette Yiadom Boakye show at Tate Britain was also brilliant.

Other painters I really like are Ida Ekblad, Nicole Eisenman and Sanya Kantarovsky (who also has a show in London right now at Modern Art).

What’s on my bookshelf?

Well, right now I’m reading poetry by Sappho and Nayyirah Waheed, as well as various books on Jungian psychology.

German expressionism inspires me again and again…

particularly Kirchner, Nolde and the Die Brücke group of artists.

Christabel MacGreevy, artist and co-founder of the fashion brand Itchy Scratchy Patchy

3. Sadie Clayton, sculptor specialising in copper metal, and fusing technology and spirituality, and Fashion Course Director at London College of Contemporary Arts.

As soon as the lockdown lifted I went to Gagaosian to visit the Rachel Whiteread exhibition.

She is one of my favourite artists as she always makes me stop and think: “Why, how, what, where?” Are there ever answers to these questions when observing and analysing art or is it down to the interpreter?

I also recently visited Somerset House for the London design Biennale 2021, where I had a piece of work showing.

The main piece I loved at the Rachel Whiteread exhibition was the leaning, broken shed.

It’s so intricate and fragile, yet so intense. For me, it also encouraged the idea of starting over, which we all need to remember right now. What doesn’t break us makes us stronger and becomes part of our journey.

This summer I cannot wait to go and see the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at the Tate Modern.

John Chamberlain continues to inspire me.

The words that spring to mind when I see his sculptures are power, resilience and strength, and right now, after such a testing time, his work gives me hope for the future. I also love colour (you seldom see me wearing black) so I also find it really inspiring seeing how he puts colours together.

What’s on my bookshelf?

At the moment I’m so busy with project deadlines and teaching that in my downtime I’m meditating rather than reading.

Copper, the material I specialise in, has so many incredible benefits, from environmental and physical to health and spiritual.

When I visit my favourite spaces/places I visualise how I can incorporate copper sculptures into the environment – it feeds my energy, which, in turn, inspires me to create.

I recently created a virtual exhibition with Microsoft in New York, which incorporates a virtual copper mobile that you can walk under and around on your phone via Artificial Reality, all the while reaping the healing benefits of this magical material.

Sadie Clayton, sculptor specialising in copper metal, fusing technology and spirituality.

4. Iris Garagnoux, visual artist and performer.

I recently went to Tesfaye Urgessa’s solo show at the Saatchi Yates Gallery, which I loved.

I felt so captivated by his treatment of pictorial material and how he questions identity and race.

After visiting the Saatchi Yates Gallery, I usually go and get bubble tea at Héfaure in Chinatown.

Sometimes I’ll stop en route at Crème in Soho for a fondant cookie.

This summer I’m particularly looking forward to going to Claudio Parmiggiani’s exhibition at the Simon Lee Gallery.

At the moment I’m feeling particularly inspired by Donna Huanca. Her work merges painting, performance and multi-sensory installations.

I’m currently reading Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts and Monsters of the Anthropocene [edited]

by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Heather Anne Swanson, Elaine Gan, and Nils Bubandt.

When in need of inspiration I always pick up a book that once belonged to my great-great-grandmother on the art of childbirth (she was a midwife).

I have read that book so many times.

I recently had a solo exhibition at 24 Cork Street in Mayfair.

I am in the middle of starting a new series called Amnion, for which I’m painting both sides of a stretched plastic membrane. You can see the first two parts of this series at the Cork Street gallery – a true work-in-progress.

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Iris Garagnoux, visual artist and performer.

The Short Stack

Four women at the top of their game in the art world guide us on a whirlwind tour of London’s art galleries. Follow in their footsteps to take in some captivating art and grab a coffee or bubble tea en route.

By Emma-Louise Boynton

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