The Foggy Dew; New works by Matthew Cowan feat. artefacts from the archive of the English Folk Dance & Song Society

25 Feb 2010 – 7 Apr 2010

Event times

Private view starts at 6pm ends 8pm sharp

Cost of entry


Swiss Cottage Gallery

London, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • C11,13,31,46,82,113,187
  • Swiss Cottage

Save Event: The Foggy Dew; New works by Matthew Cowan feat. artefacts from the archive of the English Folk Dance & Song Society

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Swiss Cottage Gallery is pleased to showcase artwork by Matthew Cowan, the 2009 English Folk Dance and Song Society Artist in Residence at Cecil Sharp House, alongside selected items from the archives of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Exhibited are costumes, disguises and artefacts representing a history of folk dance, ritual and performance, which have been collected in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries from around England. Some artefacts on display show traces of the performances they have been through; this very visible residue alludes to the occasion and importance of live performance in the folk realm. The spectrum of folk performance owes a debt to Cecil Sharp (1859-1924), England's most important folk song and dance collector, for his work in recording what he saw and heard. This exhibition picks up on the work by Cecil Sharp keeping a flickering light aglow; the nature of folk is that it needs to be performed to remain alive. This ‘current day' inhabitance of ritual and folk performance is by no means unusual as successive generations of singers, dancers and performers remain true to a set of traditional folk values whilst introducing a contemporary discourse. Contemporary artworks are placed directly alongside objects from the archives in a deliberate linking and exploration of the discourse and re-investment into and between folk history and the current contemporaneous existence of the real and imagined folk realm. We would like to question the nature of traditions themselves and how we view and realise their re-enactment wondering when and if the re-enactment becomes an enactment. The costume works and the video performances are very much in the vein of ‘folk' but also look toward wider issues of strangeness, joy, ritual disguise and the performance of the everyday. Matthew Cowan is a New Zealand born artist who has been working in the UK since 2001. Recent shows have been in London, Newcastle upon Tyne, Poland and New York. During 2009 he was the Artist in Residence at Cecil Sharp House, the headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. Swiss Cottage Gallery would like to give special thanks to both Matthew Cowan and to the EFDSS for their support and help with this exhibition. For opening times please see Swiss Cottage Library website www.camden.gov.uk/swisscottagelibrary For EFDSS details www.efdss.org


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