Currently, at the Leicester Gallery located in Vijay Patel, there is an ongoing project called ‘Art by Post: Of Home and Hope’ which was first introduced in May 2020 to provide activities for people in the UK suffering from a range of problems including loneliness, social isolation and digital exclusion. It involved commissioning artists to make activity booklets that were sent out to people to complete and send back in which resulted in over 600 works including poetry, drawings, paintings and mixed media work being received by the gallery.
The exhibition was organised based on three different themes being Nature, Sound + Movement & Hope. These are the key themes that emerged during the art by post responses and submissions but they demonstrate the vital needs that we all have including green spaces, music, dance, physical activity, and experiences that we all share.
These framed artworks (image above and below) are a selection of works made by the participants which are organised by theme and colour coded.
The green frames are related to the nature theme, the orange frames are related to the sound & movement theme and the pink frames are related to the Hope theme. The colours used for this suit the themes well, particularly the green for nature. The wide variety of different outcomes including written work and artwork demonstrates how we are all individuals and handle things in our own way. Despite different methods, a lot of the works are demonstrating similar ideas which are fascinating as it shows that there are often so many thoughts we don’t consider.
This tapestry was influenced by the booklet surrounding the topic of creativity in the home and cultivating that through music, dance and creating a safe space for making (written by Cherrelle Sappleton and Barbara Clarke). Zoe Kreye did a lot of research into tapestries and fabrics to identify common ones used in front rooms as people were spending a lot of time in there and this is why the tapestry includes some domesticated fabrics.
These are some paintings (image above and image below) by Luke Squire based around nature which are small scale and so Paloma Proudfoot created the tapestry around his work to support them and add scale to the work. The final effect emulates windows which were an important connection for people who had to remain indoors during the pandemic, with shades of blue representing the sky during the day and black representing the night. Being connected to nature is a key way to improve mental and physical well-being.
I feel that the colours used in these tapestry pieces work well together yet also contrast in areas to keep the audience interested. There is a contrast between the solid colours and patterns in the areas that surround the more intricate and detailed nature paintings. Since I am exploring colour combinations in my own work, I could use some of the colour palettes in this work to see if it could benefit my own work and allow me to develop a more informed choice of colour. I stayed at the gallery for a long time looking at these works, I feel that the meaning behind them is very significant and plays a big role in how they are perceived.
This tapestry brings together a series of self-portraits of the participants. It is entitled ‘Hope’ This is vital in visualising members of the community and showing that their existence matters. This resembles the community and the support that it had for the art by post-project. In addition to the booklets used, there were zoom calls in which the participants did activities, some involving creating self-portraits which were used in this piece.
These batik works (image above and below) are made by Sophia Niazi in which she used some of the participants’ illustrations of their own interiors to create a kitchen and living room. Even the artworks on the wall in the work are adapted from pieces submitted by the participants. I particularly like that in the batik above, the light is shining through due to the gallery being made from transparent glass. This really makes the work pop and catch your eye. I believe that this is significant as it shows that your work in a gallery can be perceived differently depending on the time of day if it is in a location where light is able to reach the work. I also love the abstract colours used and again could consider using similar palettes in my work to see how it affects my personal subject matter.
This is the other batik kitchen interior created by Sophia Niazi which uses more muted colours yet the contrasts used still create a captivating effect. This work doesn’t have the same effect as the other in terms of the lighting but I think it is important to show the obvious differences in the outcomes. I have never seen batiks so detailed before but I love the small details such as the wood textural lines on the floor and the labels on the books at the bottom of the page.
My opinion of this exhibition:
Overall, I really loved this exhibition and the way it brought people together during the hard times during the pandemic. I always hated to think about the vulnerable people experiencing those times alone and so knowing that a lot of people had support and someone to talk to puts me at ease. In particular, I love the way colour has been used in the works in this exhibition as they are all very bright and attractive, a happy outcome of this project which is interesting as they could have focused on the negatives of those times but it has a positive vibe which is so lovely. The combination of detail and simplicity is nicely balanced. Some of the colour palettes, specifically the kitchen and living room batik pieces are some that I would be interested in using in my own project as I feel that they are really effective and balanced nicely. Since colour is such a vital part of my work, this is very relevant and I hope it develops my own colour use in some way.