This August, Hackney-based art collective Submit to Love Studios are exhibiting a series of works and installations by artists who have survived brain injuries. Running from 3rd- 23rd August in Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, Making Faces explores the role of the physical and emotional in the formation of identity.
Submit to Love Studios, based at brain injury charity Headway East London, is home to more than 40 self-taught artists; each using diverse methods and practices to produce works that are unguarded, emotive and informed by a truly unique vision. Over the past two decades, Headway East London and its artists have repositioned art from a rehabilitation activity to both a vocation and passion project, and this exhibition is their most ambitious to date.
The tower-block installations that form the centrepiece of Making Faces confront viewers with playful questions about the nature of the body, and about the disjuncture between what it feels like to be a person and how that same person is seen from the outside. Survivors of brain injury often experience both physical and cognitive changes and recovery can mean addressing difficult feelings of loss and isolation. But it can also mean the discovery of new talents, skills and ways of seeing that can become the building-blocks of new positive identity. This installation explores that process of discovery and the unique perceptions that arise from it. Self-construction collides with reminders of what others gather - rightly or wrongly - from the outer surface.
These individuals make alongside each other on a daily basis, sharing materials and inspiration and continually witnessing the evolution of each other's work. Taking their inspiration in part from the 'totem-pole' traditions of native North America, the installations also speak to feelings of kinship and belonging, exploring the emotive and mystical connections that form between the artists over time and the collective identity that emerges in the open setting of the studio.
The wall-mounted works accompanying the installations explore in greater depth the emotional and narrative histories of some of the individual artists, and reveal the way art and mind reciprocate - making each other anew with revisions and revisits. Audio recordings of the artists in conversation accompany these works: discussing their artistic processes and journeys, and the importance of the space they work in. The recordings create an invitation to the listener - to consider the work outside the exhibition's spacial constraints, to hear the sounds of the studio and perhaps be inspired in their own practice of making.
The exhibition will host a Private View on Thursday 3rd August from 6.30pm - 8.30pm, and visitors will have the opportunity to Meet The Artist on Thursday 17th August between 12pm - 1.30pm in the Royal Festival Hall (Level 2).