Richard Saltoun Gallery presents the work of experimental and influential British artist Shelagh Wakely, an artist whose international artistic connections defined her practice, yet who remains undeservedly neglected in her home country.
Curated by artist and close friend Antoni Malinowski, the exhibition follows on from her retrospective at Camden Art Centre, London, in 2014 and highlights Wakely’s global relationships and collaboration with other artists, notably the Brazilian artists Lucia Nogueira and Tunga.
The exhibition will present, for the first time since its creation in 1986, Spring Snow, a floor installation made of pink tissue paper, which will occupy the entirety of one room of the gallery.
Shelagh Wakely was awarded several museum shows in the UK during her lifetime, including her solo exhibition, some encounters with reality, at the Serpentine Gallery in 1977. An exhibition three years later at Piwna 20/26, an avant-garde artist-run space in Warsaw, Poland, brought her work into an international context for the first time. The interdisciplinary aspect of her oeuvre has made her difficult to place. Her early minimal sculptures and drawings of the 70s through to the gestural paintings and installations of powdered spices from the 80s, and video works of the 90s; it was only in the last ten years of her life that she found considerable success in public commissions, notably the 60,000-piece glass mosaic on the south facade of Royal Albert Hall in London.
A publication with texts by Marjorie Allthorpe-Guyton, Roger Cook, Richard Deacon, Catherine Lampert, Marysia Lewandowska, Jenni Lomax, Antoni Malinowski, and Alison Wilding will accompany the exhibition.
Biography: Shelagh WAKELY (b. 1932, Madingley – 2011, London). Shelagh Wakely was an experimental and influential pioneer of installation art. Born in the small village of Madingley, Cambridgeshire, in 1932, Wakely spent much of her youth in Kenya where her family lived a privileged colonial life. She returned to England as a teenager to study agriculture, but quickly turned to the arts, studying painting and screen-printing at the Chelsea College of Art (1958-1962). Wakely worked as a textile and clothing designer through the 1960s but a research fellowship at the Royal College of Art (1968-1971) led her to turn to sculpture. Wakely met the artist Tunga in 1989 and developed a close collaborative relationship, making video and performance works together. Her later career, from the mid-1990s onwards, was dominated by these works and the impact Brazil had on her.
Early exhibitions were held at the Serpentine Gallery, London, (1977); ICA, London, (1979) and John Hansard Gallery, Southampton (1982). These shows cemented her reputation as a multifaceted artist: installations, sculptures, drawings and paintings all incorporated across the breadth of her practice. Later landmark exhibitions include The British School at Rome, 1991, where she was a Fellow, IKON Gallery, Birmingham, 1992; Museu do Acude, Rio de Janeiro, 1993; and an outdoor installations, Rainsquare, installed at the South London Gallery in 1994, Angel Row Gallery, Nottingham, 2002 and the recent retrospective A View from a Window, at Camden Arts Centre, London, 2014. Public commissions include: Royal Albert Hall, London, 2001, Marunouchi Building, Tokyo 2002, Beckenham Beacon Hospital, Kent, 2009, and Nottingham University Hospital City Campus, Nottingham, 2010.
Antoni Malinowski (b. 1955, Warsaw) A student at the Academy of Fine Art, Warsaw, Malinowski moved to London in 1980 to study at the Chelsea College of Art. He is particularly known for his large-scale installations and paintings which investigate the properties of colour and line. Recent commissions include “Spectral Flip”, Mathematical Institute, Oxford (2015); Everyman Theatre, Liverpool (2014); “Bridging Lines Venice”, Architectural Venice Biennale, Venice 2004.