Maria Amidu, living in fear of quicksand

Maria Amidu, living in fear of quicksandThe Nunnery Gallery and Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, Bow and Stepney Green
3 March – 21 May 2023

Untitled: an INDEX exhibition of works in progress by Maria Amidu

iniva, Chelsea
14 February – 28 April 2023

living in fear of quicksand explores the fragmentary nature of memory in relation to a fragile experience of home. Hosted across two venues – The Nunnery Gallery, a non-for-profit art space in East London and nearby Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives – Maria Amidu’s solo exhibition pays specific attention to what is hidden, obscured, silenced or unspoken. The exhibition has been conceptualised and developed over four years with independent curator, Gemma Lloyd.

The centre-piece air, 2022, displayed in the gallery’s nave, is a limited edition print work. The poetic artist’s book covers 3 parts of her life. It starts by non-chronologically tracing the artist’s fragmented memories of early childhood and life on Lincoln Estate – council housing within walking distance from the gallery through to her life growing up in state care in Bexhill-on-Sea, mapping the impact of those experiences on her adulthood life. The text for this work was developed over 25 years and is juxtaposed by replicated archival material about the history and community of Lincoln Estate. A corresponding sound installation there is no sticking plaster for this gaping wound, 2021, can be heard at intervals whilst reading the book.

One of the most striking features of the exhibition at the Nunnery are the indigo-coloured painted walls, a bespoke tone of blue Amidu developed with Dulux Paints. The colour with the title Sunday night, 2022, encapsulates the artworks in the show and elegantly connects the gallery’s adjacent rooms. Indigo also features in air through the endpapers and the hand-dyed ribbon. Amidu’s use of blue can be seen as a reference to the maternal side of her family.

The main gallery space showcases an intimate text-based porcelain and paper installation in a glass vitrine, titled things I want to known and also do not want to share, 2021. It consists of unedited and unfiltered expressions of feelings seemingly imprinted onto scraps of paper by spontaneously hitting typewriter keys, sometimes with force.

The film 1973, 2022, is a poetic assemblage of archival imagery, blurred photographs of seascapes and beaches, photographs of the artist as a child, juxtaposed by domestic scenes and underpinned by voices of different people repeating the same narrative – a refrain from a passage in air. 1973 also seems to grapple from an adult’s perspective with fragmented memory.

Overall, the emotive works in the exhibition reflect on how each of us can struggle to retrieve lost and fragmented memories. There is no set way to navigate this calm but powerful multi-layered exhibition, leaving freedom and space for the viewer to make their own interpretations and associations.

The exhibition continues a short bus ride away in Stepney Green at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives with an archival display of historic records alongside some items from the artist’s personal archive and accompanied by a timeline documenting the development of the Lincoln Estate.

Concurrent to her show in East London, Amidu’s exhibition at iniva, Untitled: an INDEX exhibition of works in progress by Maria Amidu curated by Hollie Douglas as part of Future Collect, looks into what role writing plays in emotional expression. Featuring a series of works in progress it is again highlighting Amidu’s longstanding practice as a writer and visual artist as well as her interest in archives. Just as living in fear of quicksand, Untitled: an INDEX exhibition of works in progress by Maria Amidu invites the audience to pause and reflect on what is hidden, obscured and unspoken.

Christine Takengny
Senior Curator

181 Bow Rd, Bow, London E3 2SJ
Exhibition open until 21 May 2023
Gallery opening times: Tuesday to Sunday 10.00 – 16.00

16 John Islip St, London SW1P 4JU
Exhibition open until 28 April 2023
Gallery opening times: Monday to Friday 9.30 – 17.30