Launching on International Women’s Day and as part of Wonder Women 2018, Castlefield Gallery presents two newly commissioned bodies of work by Glasgow-based artist Ruth Barker and Manchester-based artist Hannah Leighton-Boyce, centring around varying aspects of womanhood. The launch will include a unique performance by Barker.
Following Ruth Baker’s residency at the University of Salford and University of Salford Art Collection, her new commission, If this is the last thing that I say, explores motherhood, illness, physical vulnerability and the economic conditions of contemporary Britain which, she feels, are all rapidly coalescing to render her publically mute. Indeed, many women could perhaps relate to such a fear, as levels of gender equality within society have, by some measures, worsened over recent years.
Through an assemblage of spoken word and sound, wall based fabrics, and sculptural objects, Baker will present her audience with a potent mix of autobiography, ancient mythology and everyday life; drawing upon references as diverse as the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar and her own self, recast as a clothes pulley.
The exhibition will also include a recording of children from Salford’s Clarendon Road Primary School performing a sonic meditation inspired by the experimental composer, electronic music pioneer and founder of ‘Deep Listening’, Pauline Oliveros, accompanied by the sound of Barker’s own breath works, infant babble and performed monologue.
Leighton-Boyce’s contribution, developed during a research residency at Glasgow Women’s Library (the only accredited museum in the UK dedicated to women’s lives, histories and achievements), responds to the traces of labour and emotion contained within the centre’s important collection of archived documents, and the empowering charge and healing energy of women ‘coming together’ that she encountered there. What seems most remarkable, however, is the unusual medium through which she chooses to communicate these findings and experiences: salt – harnessing the commonplace material as a metaphor for the physical extraction process of research, and the resistance and preservation shown by women over the years.
The two person exhibition will tour to Glasgow Women’s Library in February 2019.