WINK WINK at the Whitaker

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Harry Clayton Wright, Mr Blackpool (2023). Image by Matt Crockett, Make up by Guy Common, Costume Design by Ryan Dawson Laight

WINK WINK at The Whitaker, 18 May — 23 July 2023 Entrance is free — Visit now

WINK WINK at the Whitaker is a major new exhibition celebrating queer lived experience.

The display weaves together sculpture, drawing, textiles, video and mixed media to present vivid explorations of queerness and its nuances. WINK WINK offers an alternative view of the world and allows us to glimpse it from a completely different perspective that we may not be privy to in everyday life.

Curator Garth Gratrix (who is also exhibiting his own work) has gathered 24 artists whose practices may be diverse, but they all come together to explore the intersectionality of language, material, race, gender from a queer perspective. He describes the exhibition as a “formal frolic”, that allows the art to remain generous, full of humour and freshness, within the confines of an institutional display.

Trackie McLeod, MILK LEMONADE CHOCOLATE (2022), Neon light, acrylic box

Jonathan Baldock’s work is a fantastic example of this playfulness, with his Maske series of clay pieces that allude to faces. While they are not strictly portraits or even have facial features, their fleshy colours and compositions force our brains to see human faces and project onto them an array of emotions.

Topher Campbell’s film FETISH is another highlight of WINK WINK. Campbell’s video featuring himself and his own naked Black queer body walking through the streets of New York dives deeply into the ideas of visibility and perceptions, the act of walking naked through the city as a Black man was both dangerous, provocative and entirely unashamed.

Artist-SHARP, Title BEACON (without words I found myself home on our stomping ground) (2022). image by Arlo Lawton
SHARP, BEACON (without words I found myself home on our stomping ground) (2022). image by Arlo Lawton

Sarah Joy-Ford’s artistic practice mostly uses textiles, and revels in its own femininity of aesthetic, indulging in warm, pastel hues, sparkly elements and soft materials. Ford is also an independent researcher so her interest in textiles goes beyond the materiality and techniques, but also incorporates the history of gendered marginalisation, patriarchy and craft as a feminine pursuit. She is often inspired by single-sex space  like sororities and lesbian desire within them, resulting in ornately decorated quilts, cushions and pieces of clothing.

WINK WINK also features work from legendary figures such as filmmaker, artist and gardener Derek Jarman as well as a whole host of other artists’ works who boldly use their voice and creativity to bring audiences a little bit closer to the queer experience.

WINK WINK at The Whitaker, 18 May — 23 July 2023 Entrance is free Visit now

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