Showing at the new Crafts Council Gallery and now extended to 12 March, We Gather brings together new commissions and existing work by five female artists of Black or Asian heritage. The studio memorabilia reveal something of the process behind the making of these pieces and, in several instances, shed light on the political and social context: the decades of omission of works by makers from the African, Caribbean and Asian diasporas from the mainstream craft canon.
Two of the five exhibiting artists, Onome Otite and Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings, have Cockpit connections. Mudawi-Rowlings, who received an MBE in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to Deaf and Disabled people in the arts, is a Cockpit alumna. Otite, who in 2016 received the Cockpit/Prince’s Trust Creative Careers Award, is based at our Bloomsbury studios.
Also showing at the Islington gallery are Shaheen Ahmed, whose map-based narratives draw on motifs of calligraphy and Islamic geometry, Lorna Hamilton-Brown, whose textile works subvert perceptions of knit and crochet, and metalsmith Francisca Onumah.
Otite presents a new textile work inspired by the support network between women. Known for her collage works of single figures, this piece is the first to feature a group of figures. Rendered in hand-stitched fabrics donated by each of her subjects, the work celebrates close friends who have inspired the artist.
Mudawi-Rowlings’ installation, meanwhile, incorporates dying, screen-printing and Devoré techniques, to explore themes of identity, communication, heritage, and womanhood. The artist is influenced by her Sudanese heritage which is reflected in her use of Arabic geometry, colour, and form.
Other Cockpit makers celebrated in the exhibition include Esna Su, Majeda Clarke, Ekta Kaul and Jasmine Carey.
As curators Rosie Ross & Griffi say, “This exhibition has offered us a unique opportunity to curate in honour of women who share similar experiences and frames of reference to our own, but also within a mainstream cultural organisation that we haven’t traditionally seen ourselves reflected in. We are excited to bring together their collection of works, which offer audiences fresh visibility to crafts that has emotional depth, space and social resonance.”
We Gather is a rich, inspiring experience. Visit before 12 March – and then come to Cockpit this summer to see Onome Otite’s studio for real.
Photos from top: Onome Otite by Jessica Ross, Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings by Jamie Trounce.