// Text by Jes Fernie
How shall we play this? There are a number of options. We can walk through the door, make some small talk, take a leaflet and look at the work. Worry about whether we’re allowed to get into that pool. Or we can put our hands up to the window and maintain a safe distance. No need for conversation or interaction. I do this, but am not satisfied. The glare is too bright and my viewpoint restricted.
There aren’t many people around. By the escalators outside I drop down onto my belly, forearms supporting my torso. My new stance affords me a refreshingly different vantage point. Legs and feet brush past me; my nose hovers above the highly polished granite floor. I begin to edge my way towards Turf’s window, adopting a reptilian swagger as each elbow heaves my weight forward. I nudge my nose up against the base of the window frame and locate a vulnerable spot, slithering through from the outside in, gasping slightly as I make my entrance.
I blink and take a moment to adjust to the light, temperature, and mood in the room. Nobody seems particularly shocked by my mode of entry. My route to the pool is blocked by a spikey, low-lying object. As I shunt past it, I realise it echoes the form of my body – two hind legs, a spine and cross-sectional skeletal elements. Laying my cheek down on the cool concrete floor, I begin to hum an unrecognisable tune, understanding intuitively that words won’t wash here – this is an alien form from millennia past and future, with uncertain pedigree and almost certainly no language. There is no response. Frustrated, I lodge my head between the translucent blue resin and steel frame in an attempt to obliterate the shadows – to limit their impact on the world. It works and I smile to myself.
I become anxious that time is running out, that soon things will no longer be viable. With a renewed sense of urgency, I enter the pool, bashing my arms and legs on the threshold as I do so, oblivious to the damage I might cause. What I thought was liquid turns out to be little black pellets that are painful to lean on – my elbows assume the ghostly shape of their form. I sniff them – they smell of plastic, they are entirely artificial and small enough to enter the tiniest of cavities. Ahead of me, there are tightly coiled, pleated bits of fabric, swimming on this sea of pellets. Sliced brain or elegant CT scans – each one takes on a fraught, co-dependent relationship with its neighbour and the surrounding steel frame. I am seduced by their splendour and the evident care with which they have been constructed.
In an attempt to alleviate the weight from my arms, I turn onto my side and assume a foetal position, burrowing deep into the pellets until I can no longer see or be seen. I hear the sound of muffled voices above me, the pressure of feet on my hips. “I’m here, underneath you! Tread softly!” I yell. No response. The feet move on.
Overwhelmed by tiredness, I fall into a deep sleep and dream of suffocation and darkness, my body floating in a constricted space, a heavy throb in my temples. I am a mutant form sliding between this world and the next, made up of endocrine-disrupting chemicals, toxic waste and wilful carelessness. Contaminated, implicated, edging towards a place where humans, animals and inanimate objects are indistinguishable, I wait for evolution to catch up with my constituent parts. A fossil of unknown origin, I shall be unearthed in millennia to come, prized for my exquisite strangeness and heralded as the first of my kind.
➮ Jes Fernie is an independent curator and writer. You can find out more about her work at jesfernie.com
Opening Night 25 July 5-9pm // Continues 26 July – 31 Aug
Free & Open To All // Wed-Sat 11-5pm & Until 8pm Thurs // Turf Projects, Whitgift Centre, Croydon CR01UQ
// FREE EXHIBITION EVENTS
Free & open to all. Please book a free space, as spaces are limited!
➮ ACTIVITY GUIDES
Free activity guides are available for families to explore the exhibition together. Pick up a physical copy at the gallery or check back soon to download a copy online.
➮ LIMITED EDITION ALICE CHANNER DESIGNED PATCH
Alice Channer has produced a limited edition of 50 patches for the exhibition, priced at £4. Purchase them here!
➮ OPENING NIGHT // Thurs 25 July 5-9pm
Free & open to all with BYOB welcome.
➮ TURF OPEN STUDIOS // Sat 27 July 12-4pm
Take a peep at Turf studio members’ workspaces, see what we’ve all been up to lately and enjoy a host of free workshops & events put on by our studio members.
➮ ARTISTS’ LUNCHTIME FEEDBACK // Led by Alice Channer // Sat 27 July 12-2pm
Our free feedback sessions are a chance to get feedback on your work from other practicing artists in a supportive environment. July’s feedback session will be led by ‘Birthing Pool’ artist Alice Channer. There are five slots available for showing work, but all are welcome to join in the discussion!
➮ GROUNDWERK 5.4 // Histories and Principles of Casting // Sat 27 July 2:30-4pm
Groundwerk is a monthly series of free practical workshops for artists & creatives wishing to gain the skills to support their practice. Learn about the fundamentals of casting techniques and consider the histories of labour & production that frame the process, in this practical introductory session led by artist and fabricator Nick Tudor and researcher Will Stronge.
➮ FAMILY ART FUN DAY // Pull Twist Dip Stretch// Sat 3 Aug 12-2pm & Fri 20 Aug 12-2pm
Test the limits of materials & create stretchy, shiny & strange artworks to take home! Explore ‘Birthing Pool’ by Alice Channer & make your own sculptures inspired by the exhibition. This free workshop is for children & their families to explore together. Make sure to book a free ticket!
➮ Future fossils: thinking about art’s material and structural complicity // Led by GIRLFORUM // Sat 24 Aug 2-5pm
GIRLFORUM hosts an afternoon of contributions & discussion considering the material complicity of the things we make as artists. In the face of an ever-deepening ecological crisis, should we pay closer attention to the materials & processes we use? As growing environmentalism intersects with urgent restructuring around gender, race, class, and more, could we imagine a new, updated eco-feminism? The session will end with a clothes swap, setting up a process of exchange that slows down & re-routes the cycles of fast fashion. Please bring any clothes you’d like to swap!
➮ GROUNDWERK 5.3 // Don’t Give Up Your Day Job // [RESCHEDULED DATE] Thurs 29 Aug 6:30-8pm
Do you have a day job that supports your artistic practice? Could this employment inform or provide a platform for your creative work? Join artist Sam Curtis in thinking through how expanded forms of art practice can bridge boundaries of labour.
➮ ARTISTS’ LUNCHTIME FEEDBACK – WRITERS’ SPECIAL // Led by Mandisa Apena // Sat 31 Aug 12-2pm
August’s feedback session will be led by Fungus Press resident artist Mandisa Apena. This session will have a particular focus on writing within creative practices, but all kinds of creative work are welcome.
➮ CROYDON SCHOOL OF ART TALKS & TUTORIALS
Exclusively for Croydon School of Art / Coydon College students. Contact holly@turf-projects for info.
➮ SCHOOLS AND GROUP VISITS
We work closely with local partner schools, and all schools & groups are welcome to visit our exhibitions. Please book ahead by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
// ABOUT ALICE CHANNER
Alice Channer is an artist working with sculpture. Her work s t r e t c h e s out, s l o w s down and speeds up industrial and post-industrial production processes to make them visible to herself and to others, and to attune us to the multiple embodiments and disembodiments involved. She imagines her work as a kind of 21st Century Process Art.
She has exhibited widely over the last two decades, including institutional exhibitions at: Tate Britain, London, UK; Towner Gallery, Eastbourne, UK (2019); Museum Morsbroich, Germany; Whitechapel Gallery, UK; Kettles Yard, Cambridge, UK; La Panacée MoCo, Montpellier, France (2018); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, USA and Kunsthaus Hamburg, Germany (2017); Museum Kurhaus Kleve, Germany; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (2016); Aïshti Foundation, Beirut; Public Art Fund, New York; Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, USA (2015); Fridericianum, Kassel; Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, both Germany and Künstlerhaus Graz, Austria (2014); The Hepworth Wakefield, Yorkshire; the 55th Venice Biennale, Italy and Kunstverein Freiburg, Germany (2013) and South London Gallery; Tate Britain, both UK (2012).
➮ Find out more about Alice Channer at alicechanner.com
// ABOUT TURF
Founded in 2013, Turf Projects is the first entirely artist-run contemporary art space in Croydon, South London.
Established by creatives with a personal connection to the borough, Turf comprises a gallery space exhibiting work from emerging & established artists; an artists workspace and events space; and a studio membership for artists and makers. A registered charity, Turf has supported the work of over 400 artists to date through a programme of free exhibitions, workshops and events. We also run; MOSS (a collective of local learning disabled artists), Art Press (a collective of local artists aged 14-21), a support & residency programme for Croydon School of Art students, family workshops, projects with local schools & more.