Garten der Kunstformen

Bankley Studios & Gallery, 4 – 19 November 2016
Kasumi Dean, Carina Ripley, Leo Robinson

In July 2016 I was invited to work with three artists – Kasumi Dean, Carina Ripley and Leo Robinson – as they undertook a two-month residency at Bankley Studios & Gallery following their graduation from Manchester School of Art.

The residency took place in August and September 2016 and during this time I undertook a number of crits with the artists in order to see how they were progressing, how they were finding working with each other in a shared space, and how they were finding life post-art school.

The project culminated in an exhibition, Garten der Kunstformen, taking place in November 2016 and curated by the artists and myself. See below for images and more information on the exhibition.

Following their two month residency undertaken in Bankley’s Studio 20; Kasumi Dean, Leo Robinson and Carina Ripley present Garten der Kunstformen. This exhibition is the culmination of the process begun when these three artists were selected for Bankley’s graduate residency, bringing together three apparently disparate practices and with the provision of time and shared space, allowing them to overlap, for ideas and interests to be shared and for common ground to be discovered. This common ground has taken shape with the concept of the garden, whether as a space that exists in conflict with the built environment, as a site for ritual and myth, or as representative of the regenerative cycle of life and death.

Dean considers the meeting of the mass produced and the kitsch in contrast with the natural and organic. In one tongue-in-cheek moment, the packaging from fruit flavoured sweets – perhaps the ultimate kitsch, artificial commodification of nature – become the medium for a patterned surface, the repetition and application allowing for them to become considered aesthetic material rather than simply a cheap play for attention.

Robinson retells the Roman myth of Pomona, as it applies to Manchester’s own Pomona Island. In myth, Pomona is a goddess of fruitful abundance, importantly the natural flourishing of fruit trees, rather than their harvest. Robinson finds a neatly ironic parallel in the tale of Pomona and her present-day namesake; the goddess Pomona was tricked by Vertumnus so that he could gain access to her orchard, while in Manchester, property developers spin their own tales in order to exploit Pomona Island’s resources.

Ripley tells stories of femininity and the female body. With Rise, Ripley uses weaving, traditionally perceived as a female activity, Ripley plays with imagery of the ‘red tent’, a place for menstruating women to congregate and consider their own place within the natural environment. Ripley also makes bold, direct statements on how the female body is perceived and commodified, with her film Wash house, using clothes pegs to uncomfortably highlight parts of the female body, taking an almost medical attitude towards doing so.