Meera Shakti Osborne. Hold Me Close (the forest is full of police)

29 Jun 2024 – 31 Aug 2024

Regular hours

12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00
12:00 – 18:00

Save Event: Meera Shakti Osborne. Hold Me Close (the forest is full of police)3

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London, United Kingdom


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  • 243, 55, 76
  • Old Street
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Hold Me Close (the forest is full of police) is a newly commissioned exhibition comprising painting, sound, installation and zines from London-based artist Meera Shakti Osborne. The project is the artist’s first major solo exhibition and marks the culmination of their time as the Peer Ambassador Artist-in-Residence.

Over the course of their residency, Osborne worked closely with three different groups of Peer Ambassadors, young artists and creatives (aged 17–25) from Peer’s local area. Osborne's youth work often focuses on different ways young people can express themselves. Informed by Osborne’s experiences of their time with the Peer Ambassadors and their wider research and work as a Youth Worker, the exhibition explores how we navigate the city and questions who has access to safety and care. 

London, with its 8.4 million trees making up 21 percent of the city, meets the criteria to be recognised as a forest. Osborne’s work with the young people took this fact as a starting point, imagining how plants feel through creative exercises exploring how we connect (or don't) to our local areas. 

Designed as a space of refuge and rest that has been cleansed and protected by a series of rituals, Hold Me Close (the forest is full of police) includes five large-scale painted canvases hanging from the ceiling of Peer’s gallery, depicting our forest of London. The paintings respond to texts by the young people about imagined plants alongside the artist's own imagined landscape of this city. The paintings are accompanied by an audio work—that samples sounds from increasingly policed and criminalised music genres such as grime, drill and garage that define London's youth culture past and present—presented within the protective ‘forest’.

A zine library features contributions from AHHAAHHA, Latifa Akay, Raju Rage and Claudia Radical Herbalist, Meera Shakti Osborne and the Peer Ambassadors on themes of safeguarding, safety, policing, criminalisation, Palestine, Youth Work, gentrification and radical herbalism.

There will be comfortable seating and free tea for visitors. Throughout the exhibition, various elements can be moved, removed, borrowed and shared by anyone who comes to the space. 

As part of the exhibition, Osborne has asked all Peer staff to be trained in Radical Safeguarding and will be reviewing Peer’s Safeguarding policies with the team to ensure long-term safety for young people within the organisation.

A series of talks, events and workshops has been programmed in collaboration with the Peer Ambassadors and run throughout the exhibition. Osborne’s exhibition is part of Peer’s 2024 Programme, which also includes new commissions and exhibitions by artists Ed Webb-Ingall and Onyeka Igwe. 

Meera Shakti Osborne
Meera Shakti Osborne is an art practitioner and youth worker from London. Osborne’s work focuses on collective healing through creative self-expression. Their practice engages with accessibility and confidence-building in both formal education settings and casual encounters. In recent years, Osborne has focused on questions around history-making, the ethics of collaboration and processes that allow for flexing, glitches and love.

Osborne is currently a Studio Voltaire resident artist and Research Associate 2023/24 at the Institute of International Visual Arts (iniva). They currently have a painting series at the inaugural exhibition An Idea Of A Life at the Women’s Museum in Barking. Recent exhibitions include department of Unruly histories, Cubitt Gallery (2023). Osborne has worked with Nottingham Contemporary, iniva, Newbridge Project, Peckham Platform, Focal Point Gallery, The Gap Arts Project, The Drawing Room, Reprezent FM and is a visiting lecturer at UAL. Osborne graduated in Design at Central School of Speech and Drama in 2015 and Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Science in 2018.

Peer Ambassadors
Launched in 2017, Peer Ambassadors is a unique rolling six-month, creative programme designed for and led by, young people aged 17-25 from underrepresented and lower socio-economic backgrounds based in Peer’s local area. As the Peer Ambassador Artist-in-Residence, Meera Shakti Osborne worked with Aakifah, Amir, Arifah, Arin, Carina, Ebrar, Faaiza, Forhana, Ilya, Khadijah, Kimberly, Kit, Kuri, Luana, Mi’Amarni, Orlando, Phosphene, Rebecca, Samiyyah and Tasia. 

Hold Me Close (the forest is full of police) is supported by Arts Council England and Headline Supporter, Mandy El Sayegh.

The Peer Ambassadors Programmes 2022-2023 are supported by Westfield East Bank Creative Futures Fund. 

Access information: the gallery entrance is 84 cm wide. The gallery is on the ground floor. For more access information, please click here.

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Meera Shakti Osborne


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