Saturday, 1 September 2018

Rene McBrearty - How to Remove a Single Strand Knot - as part of Life in a Northern Town - NewBridge Project

For the final exhibition of Life in a Northern Town, Newcastle-based artist Rene McBrearty has been paired with Leeds-based artist Jill McKnight. Both artists draw upon their individual and family history and experiences to explore themes such as identity, memory, family, women and gesture.

How to Remove a Single Strand Knot is Rene McBrearty's contribution to the exhibition.

McBrearty has created a new sculptural installation, presenting familiar McBrearty elements such as drawing, poetry, a riso printed zine, found objects and handmade sculptural forms alongside her first moving image work.

The setup reminds me of a domestic space with a comfy settee at the heart. Her sculptural forms are made from ceramic, leather and found materials. Ceramic shirt collars are draped over a clothes horse, and leather threads are piled on the floor. A number of other sculptures sit on a blouse that has been opened out on the floor. It is a casual arrangement with the suggestion that the process of making these objects took place in situ.

The video piece is situated in an old-fashioned larder. McBrearty and a number of other women of colour are sat round a kitchen table carrying out repetitive domestic actions such as polishing the table and kneading lumps of clay. The occasional subtitle reveals some of the conversations that take place as the women engage in their work.

The title refers to the fact that a single strand knot is found in afro hair and can prove difficult to remove. The removal of the knot becomes a metaphor for processing daily micro-aggressions and practicing self-care.

"The work thinks about the hidden labour carried out by women of colour while experiencing micro-aggressions which are everywhere, non-negotiable and relentless. The work explores the labour, productivity and the learning and unlearning of personal histories alongside the importance of sisterhood and community resilience in surviving. It is informed by her own experience, conversations with friends, her grandmother and the novel ‘Sula’ by Toni Morrison."

How to Remove a Single Strand Knot has been produced with the help of: Jola Olafimihan, Hannabiell Sanders, Wanjiru Mugo, Miles McBrearty, Matthew Pickering, Heather Bonnie Reid and Janina Sabaliauskaite.

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