What is the concept behind the show?
The title refers to the process of the artists gathering their ideas, skills and emotions to make their work, as well as Patel’s gathering of research and evidence. It also relates to the context of people across the world being globally restricted from physically coming together. At this significant point in time, we gather and celebrate each artist and elevate their work, while paying homage to and recognising the wider under-represented ecology, economy and legacy of craft created by Black and Asian women in Britain – many of whom haven’t had the opportunity to showcase work in an institution such as the Crafts Council Gallery.
Many of the works are commissioned pieces, such as Onumah’s vessels titled ‘In Our Skin’, which reflect family, relationships and craft traditions in Ghana, where her family comes from, while Mudawi-Rowlings’ ‘Threads’ work, which is a sensory experience that explores themes of identity, communication, heritage, and womanhood.
Tell us about the curation process
We visited each of the artists in their studios across the country. We wanted to show them as individuals, so it was important to bring elements of their personal stories into the gallery – displayed alongside the artworks are some of the artists’ personal belongings and items from their studios. For example, Onumah takes inspiration from African textiles for the textures of her metal vessels. She spoke about one of her father’s shirts that he would wear for special occasions and celebrations, so we included it in the show. These exhibits demonstrate the link between domestic life and how they shape artistic choices and provide context for the work.
We’ve also tried to present a holistic sense of each of these women as people and the wider network of makers of colour in the UK. You can see that through the inclusion of The Black Artisans project – a series of photographs celebrating UK-based Black craftspeople – in the exhibition.