Matthew Bamber and Ivy Kalungi at Castlefield Gallery, Castlefield, 25 September–16 October 2022, free entry - Visit now
Castlefield Gallery’s new exhibition presents two young artists: Matthew Bamber and Ivy Kalungi, whose work slots perfectly into the complicated time we live in, and revolves around cultural identity, wealth and media.
The show promises to be a deep dive into timely subject matter, even if it verges on the uncomfortable like Matthew Bamber’s The Unswept Floor, 2022. The large-scale floor piece pays homage to The Asarotos Oikos Mosaic in the Vatican in Rome. The artist explores themes of excess and greed, creating a brutally revealing snapshot of our current, precarious situation on the brink of transition environmentally and culturally. The piece features a variety of images, such as photos of McDonalds cups, cute tiny chicks, cigarette packets and coins, all moulded together into one continuous image.
Bamber is interested in our consumption in a literal sense, but also in our never-ending hunger for imagery. Previous projects included looking at images portraying or related to violence and manipulating them, either manually or digitally, in order to create a single cohesive piece. In the show, he will also display some new collage work – Bamber’s work has a maximalist, Baroque quality, making it a treat for audiences to experience.
Ivy Kalungi’s work revolves around themes of diaspora and the memory, history and languages that we carry in our bodies. As a Ugandan-Irish artist, Kalungi’s use of materials acts as triggers for the different elements of her diasporic experiences, and is nuanced and complex in itself, employing plaster, rope, cement, wood, and metal with more ephemeral materials. Her works also often include more directly symbolic elements too, such as raffia. In the Castlefield exhibition, the artist presents Mother, Daughter, Sister and Kisenso (2021): these metal sculptural works take a pyramid shape, symbolic of a family hierarchy and fill the double-height space with their intriguing arrangements.
Kalungi is also presenting a new video work set in the artist’s hometown of Belfast. Capturing everyday scenes taking place in beauty salons, the artist reveals them as safe spaces for Black women to not only care for themselves but also discuss the politics and culture of today. The artist is lifting something of a veil of secrecy on these shared, safe spaces.
The two artists’ work may be pointing to different concepts at first glance, but their work touches on trauma and memory. Shining a light on the current nuances of our cultural and social lives, the show also teases out the attitudes that we should perhaps adopt in the future in order to care, understand and remain patient with one another.
Matthew Bamber and Ivy Kalungi at Castlefield Gallery, Castlefield