GALLERY: Joy Labinjo: Ode to Olaudah Equiano

GALLERY: Joy Labinjo: Ode to Olaudah Equiano

Chapter is pleased to exhibit new work by British artist Joy Labinjo. This is her first institutional exhibition in Wales and features a collection of paintings that present fresh and arresting compositions of colour, pattern, and motifs – key signatures in her work. Fundamentally at the heart of her practice is a bold interest in storytelling.

Ode to Olaudah Equiano follows a contextual interest to centre the lives of pre-20th century Black, British individuals and communities. Drawing on historical archives and collections, this new body of paintings foregrounds some significant, and some unknown, individuals.

Following on from a body of work developed in 2020 that looked to aristocrat Sarah Forbes Bonetta (1843-1880), and other unnamed Black contemporaries, Labinjo began to learn about figures such as writer and abolitionist Olaudah Equiano (1745-1797), and his memoir ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African’. This book­ – one of the first in Europe by a Black African writer ­– charts the remarkable story of his life and is the starting point for this exhibition. 

What struck Labinjo reading about Equiano, Ignatius Sancho (1729-1780) and Phillis Wheately (1753-1784), was that their families and the lives of their Black contemporaries in Britain, were largely absent in pictorial accounts of the social and cultural life of the period. This body of works seeks to piece together some of those missing histories: intimate portraits, domestic objects, clothing, and representations of their journeys from Africa to Britain, to re-present their stories in the 21st Century. 

Read text by Orlando Reade here.

About the artist 

Joy Labinjo was awarded the Woon Art Prize in 2017. Her acclaimed commission ‘5 more minutes’, for the Brixton Underground Station in London, is on view until November 2022. Recent exhibitions include: Tiwani Contemporary, Lagos, Nigeria (2022); Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (MACAAL), Marrakech, Morocco (2021); Royal Academy, London, UK and The Breeder Gallery, Athens, Greece (both 2020); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK (2019); Bloc Projects, Sheffield, UK (2019); Tiwani Contemporary, London, UK, (2018); Gallery North, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (2018), Cafe Gallery Projects, London, UK ,  Bonington Gallery, Nottingham, UK and Morley Gallery, London, UK (all 2018), and Baltic 39, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK (2017). 

This exhibition is supported by Art Fund

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Entrance to Chapter Gallery is always free.

Mae mynediad i Oriel Chapter yn rhad ac am ddim bob amser. 

Gallery Opening Times: Tues – Sun, 11am – 5pm, closed Mondays

Oriau Agor Oriel: Mawrth – Sul, 11yb – 5yp, ar gau dydd Llun

Audio Description Tour: ENGLISH / CYMRAEG 

Chapter Gallery is an international arts space that commissions, produces and presents contemporary visual and live art projects. We offer ambitious, challenging and wide-ranging programme of exhibitions, residencies, commissions and events by established Welsh and international artists.

Mae Oriel Chapter yn ofod celfyddydol rhyngwladol sy'n comisiynu, yn cynhyrchu ac yn cyflwyno prosiectau yn y celfyddydau gweledol a byw. Rydym yn cynnig rhaglen uchelgeisiol, heriol ac amrywiol o arddangosfeydd, cyfnodau preswyl, comisiynau a digwyddiadau gan artistiaid sefydledig o Gymru ac o bedwar ban byd.

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