Electric Dreams – Online with Venture Arts

Part of our Exhibitions guide

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor
Electric Dreams – Online with Venture Arts
Declan Leslie, untitled, pen on paper, 2019-20.

Electric Dreams, online, 11 March–31 August 2021, free entry - Visit now

It’s a fact: During the pandemic, our dreams have run wild. They’ve become more frequent, more vivid, and weirder – super-charged by the strange times we’re living through. Meanwhile, our day-dreams and aspirations have also altered in character, growing more intensely focused on travel, escape and connection than ever before. Which makes Electric Dreams a both apt and enticing title for the first of three online exhibitions created in response to the conditions brought about by Covid.

‘x3’ is a joint initiative organised by ActionSpace, Project Ability and Venture Arts – three of the UK’s leading learning disability arts organisations – to showcase new work made by the artists they represent over lockdown, and to highlight the importance of connectivity and creative support. It goes without saying that the past year has been extremely challenging for artists, many of whom have lost vital income, exhibiting opportunities, and studio access. Yet the additional struggles faced by learning disabled artists have been acute – and met with far less airtime or government provision. ActionSpace, Project Ability and Venture Arts have all played a vital role in supporting learning-disabled artists to continue to be inspired, connected and creative throughout this difficult past year, and in mutually supporting each other to achieve this.

Each of the ‘x3’ online exhibitions will present work by one artist from each of the organisations. The first – Electric Dreams – is curated by Venture Arts artists Daniel Elms and Sally Hirst, and will spotlight Daniel Elms (Venture Arts), Declan Leslie (ActionSpace) and Gary Turner (Project Ability). The theme of dreams manifests across all three artists’ work in very different ways. Through Elms’ dramatic colour photographs that convey an aching hunger for the beauty of the natural world; in the surrealist quality of Turner’s Manga-inspired watercolours and prints; and in the more macabre, sometimes-nightmarish overtones of Leslie’s fluid ink drawings. The show will also feature audio description in the form of poetry by Hirst – a talented illustrator, textile artist, ceramicist and writer – whose words bring a whole new layer of meaning and life to the work.

As Grayson’s Art Club powerfully demonstrated, creativity has been a great source of solace for many people during the pandemic. Electric Dreams and the ‘x3’ project promises to be another extremely fitting celebration of this.

Electric Dreams, online

11 March–31 August 2021
Free entry