Lotus: group exhibition





TEXTS commissioned for Lotus: 

LOTUS  by Antonia Shaw 


Lotus: group exhibition
13 October – 25 November 2017

Anna Hughes, Beatrice Loft Schulz,
Holly White, Candida Powell-Williams,
Mary Hurrell, Wanda Wieser
and Miriam Austin

This exhibition offers occult ways to re-imagine history’s flow. Engaging with ideas of tradition, myth, mysticism and the occult, seven artists work towards alternative visions of the past and LOTUS_Final_Antonia_Shaw-2future, offering strategies for making, practicing and performing that re-conceive notions of tradition, deep time and prophecy. Poised precariously between a futuristic utopianism and nostalgic dreams of re-enchantment, these artists establish esoteric solidarities in working and making that serve to ground new, feminist histories of the self.

Odysseus was once forced to rescue his crew from the Island of the Lotus Eaters, where they had been fed the narcotic lotus fruit by island’s inhabitants and drained of their desire to return to their homeland. The Lotus Eaters faced an ironic struggle, to escape from a state of pure enjoyment. Lotus, in this sense, is the fruit of utopia, because those who eat it forget homeland, history, and materiality. Lotus, a title chosen for its ambivalent place in the history of the West’s appetite for utopian alternatives, presents the work of artists engaged in modes of practising and performing in which ritual functions as a medium of embodied, feminist critique. Reimagining mysticism in the light of feminist thought involves a struggle against utopianism, so that the past and future can be opened up to radical reinterpretation: ritual as solidarity; myth as everyday experience; prophecy as concrete fact. Participating artists: Anna Hughes, Beatrice Loft Schulz, Holly White, Candida Powell-Williams, Mary Hurrell, Wanda Wieser and Miriam Austin.

Anna Hughes’ sculptural practice reveals emergent codes, language, and ciphers embedded within materials and on the surfaces of objects. Her interest in these patterns is related to the ritual practice of scrying and a way to connect with the unknown. Divination is a way to organize what may seem to be disjointed, random facets of existence in order to provide insight into a problem at hand. This clarity is often reflected by the materials of scrying objects such as liquids, residues, clay, wax, or the practice of looking through an aperture.

Beatrice Loft Schulz will perform Sally, a rom-com/sci-fi/rape-revenge story about a single white female looking for love in the 1990s, and an artificial intelligence robot in the future that has abolished women by learning how to fake an orgasm. Interacting with the specific theatricality of the spaces in which they take place, Loft Schulz’s performances incorporate applause, technical set-up, and silence into the construction of narrative, paying homage to feminist writers and performance artists, such as Elfriede Jelinek and Carolee Schneeman, who question the status of a woman’s body as both the natural site of moral transgression and the virtual object of the law. Her work addresses the slippage between the apparent authenticity of the embodied speaking subject and the experience of living in a body always already compromised, mediated, and observed by power. The performance will take place at The Nines, across the alley, at 8pm on the opening night of the exhibition.

Holly White’s work frequently refers to the idea of the post-apocalypse, using epic science fiction narratives alongside everyday anecdotes. For this exhibition, she has designed a series of four large-scale flags as a site-specific sculptural installation in the gallery. Her presentation will also include a series of video works, photography and handmade objects that intertwine the narrative elements with personal materials.

Candida Powell-Williams’ sculptural and performative practice confronts the history of our attempts to navigate the absurdity of the human predicament. Our existence in a purposeless, disordered universe is punctuated with hope which some seek to find in patterns, symbols and storytelling. These constructs exemplify our tendency to imbue meaning beyond the given, and to seek a sense of control in times of uncertainty, within the limited imaginary of secular society. For this exhibition Powell-Williams presents a sculptural interpretation of a three-card tarot spread. Taking the form of small-scale dioramas, the “cards” invite the audience to complete the narratives within each space. The work is part of an on going project in which Powell-Williams reinvents the tarot figures, considering their narrative constructs and archetypes in order to explore their relationship to wellbeing, notions of pilgrimage and our identity as subjects straddling physical and digital culture.

Mary Hurrell presents a new sculpture and a photographic work exploring paradox within the feminine. The works are conduits between sensory and perceptual surfaces of imagination, memory, restraint and sensuality.

Wanda Wieser predominantly works with sculpture, print, collage and video. Recent works have incorporated aluminous cement, copper, wax, Himalayan rock salt and fabric, stimulated by research into philosophies of alchemy and geological processes. Wieser’s work is a constant oscillation between geological histories, the human mind and body, and alchemical, spiritual belief and meaning. These elements can each be nurtured in order to create a sense of calm in which the complex interrelation of human and non-human can be attended to.

Miriam Austin’s work for the exhibition emerges from an exploration of the relationship between ritual, myth, ecological fragility, and the politics of the body. Austin will develop a group of objects designed for the performance of a ritual that draws together three female folkloric figures associated with specific bodies of water. The objects are part of an on going body of work that attempts to address the entanglement of privilege, oppression and representation that always already accompanies Western interest in “native” or “folk” religions and cultures, interrogating the possible links between local mythology, global inequality and ecological disaster.


Anna Hughes (b.1982, London) lives and works in London. She studied at the RA Schools (2013–2016) and Goldsmiths (2001–2004). Recent solo exhibitions include: Warm Hot Intergalactic Space Medium, Copenhagen Place, London, 2011; A Division in Time, Bianca Galleri, Palermo, Italy, 2011. Recent group shows include: UA Elements of Religion, Artlicks Weekend, London 2016; RA Schools Degree Show, Burlington House, London 2016; Interim Projects, Burlington House, London 2015; Biothanatos, DIG, London, 2014; Elements of Religion, Bold Tendencies, London, 2013. Glenfiddich Artists in Residence, Dufftown, Scotland, 2013.

Beatrice Loft Schulz (b.1986, Auckland) lives and works in Glasgow. Her recent work includes Chew and Spit, a solo show at Tramway, Glasgow (2017); Silverado, with Laura Morrison, podcast and wall mural for Feral Kin, AutoItalia SouthEast, London (2017); Domestic Melodrama, with Alice Brooke, a film-performance commissioned for the Artist’s Moving Image Festival, Tramway, Glasgow (2016); satin seed stipple arsehole hair plait, and Sally, a mural and performance commissioned by Arcadia Missa for Ways of Living at the David Roberts Art Foundation, London (2016); the Story of Joan of Arc part 2, performance at Plural Melts, curated by Zuzanna Ratajczyk and Eoghan Ryan at Yvonne Lambert, Berlin (2016); Bain Marie with Laura Morrison, Res., London (2015); Living Arrangement #, a solo show at Arcadia Missa, London (2015); and Self-Assessment, a residency and solo show at Grove House, London (2015).

Mary Hurrell (b.1982, South Africa) lives and works in London. She works across performance, sound and sculpture to explore movement and the body as language in relation to physical and psychological experience. Recent performances and exhibitions include: Movement Study 5 (Pearlex) for David Roberts Art Foundation, London (2016) (as part of ‘An Evening of Performances’ alongside Olof Dreijer, Goshka Macuga, Roman Ondak, Amalia Ulman and Mark Wallinger); Left Hand To Back Of Head, Object Held Against Right Thigh, The Bluecoat, Liverpool (2016); EROTIC MECHANICS, 10 Martello Street, London, (2016); The London Open, Whitechapel Gallery (2015); VOCAPELT, OPEN SOURCE Contemporary Arts Festival, London (2015); Movement Study 4 (Dorsal/Breast), South London Gallery, London (2014).

Holly White (b.1985, London) lives and works in London. She graduated from an MA in Material and Visual Culture at UCL, London in 2014. Recent solo and group exhibitions include: Better Next Time (performance), How to Show Up? No. 2, San Serriffe, Amsterdam (2017); Feral Kin, Auto Italia, London (2017); I need your love is that true, Jupiter Woods, London (2016); Miracle Marathon, Serpentine Galleries, London (2016); Project 1049, Gstaad, Switzerland (2016); Curators’ Series #9. Ways of Living, David Roberts Art Foundation, London (2016); Is this living?, The Approach, London (2016); I’m always lazy when I miss you, AND/OR, London (2015); No One Is Going To Go There, Evelyn Yard, London (2014); Ocean Living, with Megan Rooney, Arcadia Missa, London (2013).

Candida Powell-Williams (b.1984, London) lives and works in London. She graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2011 and the Slade School 2009. Selected solo exhibitions and projects include: Boredom and its Acid Touch, Frieze Live, London (2017); Cache, Art Night Associate Programme, London (2017); The Vernacular History of the Golden Rhubarb, Bosse & Baum, London (2017), AVATAR, Gate Theatre, London (2015), Glissando, Bosse & Baum, London (2014), Coade’s Elixir – an occupation, Hayward Gallery, London (2014), Sleight, Lewisham Arthouse, London (2012). Recent group exhibitions and performances include Tongue Town, MAM, Sao Paolo, (2017); PIC Art Fair, Melbourne (2016), Cue Collision, House of Egorn, London (2016); DentalFlux, Poetry Library, London (2013); Hot Stones, Wet Areas, Fast Melons, Vienna (2013); Muster Point, ASC, London (2013); Please be Quite, British School, Rome (2013); Tourist Information Point, Supercollider, Blackpool (2013). In 2013 Powell-Williams completed a year-long residency at the British School in Rome, having been awarded the Sainsbury Scholarship in Painting and Sculpture. Other awards and residencies include the Lewisham Arthouse graduate studio award (20011–12), CASS Student Sculpture Award (2011), Cite de Internationals Paris studio award (2010). Powell-Williams has an upcoming group project with Emilia-Amalia group in Toronto and London in late 2017.

Wanda Wieser (b. 1988, Zurich) lives and works between London and Switzerland. Wieser graduated from the Royal Academy Schools in 2016 and received her BA in Fine Art and Art History at Goldsmiths University in 2013. Recent exhibitions include: Anastasis, White Crypt, London. Gender, Identity and Material, Royal Academy of Arts, London. Degree Show, Royal Academy Schools, London. (An Aside to On Stage, Royal Academy Schools, London, (2016). All About My Mother, The Keepers Studio, Royal Academy, London. Yesterday Night, Rowhill Mansions, London. Premiums Interim Projects, Royal Academy, London. Degree Show, Goldsmiths College, London. Gold in the Crucible, Hoxton Arches, London. trans;form, alternative space, London.

Miriam Austin (b.1984 New Zealand) lives and works in London. She graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Sculpture in 2012. Recent exhibitions include: Domusdei (performance for Art Night), ICA, London (2016); We All Have a Problem with Representation (live event), The Showroom, London (2016); Blossom Collar, Venice International Performance Art Week, Alma Zevi, Venice, IT (2016); Ritual>>>Enhancement, Chisenhale Studios Project Space, London (2016); Lupercalia (solo show), Bosse and Baum, London (2016); Feminist Practices in Dialogue, ICA, London (2015); Groundwork, New Art Centre, Salisbury (2015); A Sense of Things, Zabludowicz Collection, London (2014); Elements of Religion, Bold Tendencies, London (2013); Happening #1, The White Building, [SPACE] Studios, London (2013); Heart of Darkness, Villa Arson Art Centre, Nice, (2012). Between 2013–16 she worked on a collaborative project as part of the collective UA, who organized a conference at the University of Cambridge (Total Archive: Dreams of Universal Knowledge from the Encyclopedia to Big Data), in March 2015. Upcoming exhibitions On the Heights, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, (Oct 2017); Lexis Over Land, Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, Cornwall, (Nov 2017).