Afra Eisma: splashdown tender at The Tetley

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Afra Eisma, So are our joy softness and love, 2022. Installation view, Crying until laughing/Sírás nevetésig, Trafó Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 2022. Courtesy Trafó Gallery and 1646. Photo: Dávid Biró

Afra Eisma: splashdown tender at The Tetley, 23 June — 22 October 2023 Entrance is free — Visit now

The Tetley honours the playful focus of LEEDS 2023’s Year of Culture with a brand new exhibition splashdown tender by Afra Eisma, that focuses on play and darkness in equal measure.

The exhibition includes soft sculptures, sound installations and ceramics. Eisma is a maker in the truest sense of the word, with a preference for hands-on interaction with her materials and methods. You too can really engage with the soft sculptures in the Atrium of the gallery, as visitors are encouraged to sit and rest on, feel and cuddle the central artwork on display.

9. Afra Eisma, Blushy, 2022. Installation view, Crying untillaughing/Sírás nevetésig, Trafó Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 2022. Courtesy Trafó Gallery and 1646. Photo: Dávid Biró
Afra Eisma, Blushy, 2022. Installation view, Crying until laughing/Sírás nevetésig, Trafó Gallery, Budapest, Hungary, 2022. Courtesy Trafó Gallery and 1646. Photo: Dávid Biró

Eisma’s artistic practice uses play as a central element in both the making process and final result. There is a chaotic aesthetic present in the collections of colourful objects, whether they are wall and floor rugs, ceramic shoes or watercolour sketches in contrasting hues. However, underneath planes of colour, there are darker emotions and hidden depths. You will find a heart-shaped javelin, symbolising our limited energy to tackle challenges while other works conceal anger and discomfort.

The artist’s work at the Tetley takes various social and domestic settings as starting points, such as the Atrium work where you can join an informal catch-up between aliens, and gather around a campfire or relax in a lounge elsewhere in splashdown tender. These familiar settings with unusual characters and additions create a sense of ambiguity between that which is familiar and unexpected.

Afra Eisma, poke press squeeze clasp, 2021. Installationview Kunstinstituut Melly, Rotterdam, 2021. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Kristien Daem
Afra Eisma, poke press squeeze clasp, 2021. Installation view Kunstinstituut Melly, Rotterdam, 2021. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Kristien Daem

The Netherlands-based artist studied Fine Arts at the Royal Academy of Arts, the Hague, and Central Saint Martin’s. Her love for using traditional craft techniques makes for very aesthetically pleasing final pieces, such as complex tufted wall hanging and experimental ceramics. As well as creating a generally playful atmosphere in the show as a whole, each piece can be admired individually for its details and individual qualities, from colour combinations to intricate soft sculpture.

splashdown tender includes a programme of events for school children, early years visits and community groups.

Afra Eisma: splashdown tender at The Tetley, 23 June — 22 October 2023 Entrance is free Visit now

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