In summer 2014, Camden Arts Centre will dedicate all of its galleries and gardens to a major exhibition of work by the influential British artist Shelagh Wakely (1932-2011).
The exhibition will provide a rare opportunity to encounter the ephemeral magic of Wakely's work in which seemingly simple images and forms blossom into myriad meanings and associations imbued with her receptivity to the material world. It celebrates her observation of nature and the emotional and sensual experiences it evokes. The exhibition will be developed with Wakely’s friend and collaborator, the Brazilian artist, Tunga.
Gallery 1 will bring together works spanning the breadth of media Wakely worked with, including print, video, unfired ceramics and a series of experimental and exploratory drawings demonstrating her attention to the thresholds between things.
The whole of Gallery 2 will be devoted to a delicate stencilled floor installation created from the sweet-smelling golden spice, turmeric, first shown in Rome in 1991. Gallery 3 which retains the original architectural features and windows of the 1897 building, contains gold works, including a stencilled and cut-silk installation which changes with the shifting light and atmospheric conditions throughout the day.
The exhibition continues in Camden Arts Centre’s garden where Wakely’s work will be brought into conversation with artists with whom she shared creative concerns during her lifetime including Alison Wilding, Richard Deacon and Susan Hiller. Alongside their work, one of Wakely’s outdoor pieces, Rainsquares (1994), will be remade and installed. Inspired by Wakely’s own garden in North London and a commission she undertook for St George’s Hospital in Tooting, an area will be devoted to plants with medicinal qualities, such as angelica, caraway, chervil, parsley and anise.
Shelagh Wakely (1932-2011) was a pioneer of installation art and had solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London 1979; John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, 1982; The Showroom, London, 1989; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 1992; Museu do Acude, Rio de Janeiro, 1993; and The British School at Rome, 1991. One of her outdoor installations, Rainsquare , was installed at the South London Gallery in 1994. Her work was included in the following group exhibitions: Summer Show 1 , Serpentine Gallery, 1977; British Art 1940-80 from the Arts Council Collection , Hayward Gallery, London, 1980; Collazione inglese at scuola di san pasquale (Anthony Reynolds Selection) during the Venice Biennale 1984; Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London, 1985; and An English Summer, British art in Northern Italy , Palazzo Ruini Reggio Emilia, Italy, 1991. She was a fellow at The British School at Rome in 1991. In her later years she undertook many architectural commissions in the UK and abroad including an ambitious mosaic for the southern porch of the Royal Albert Hall, London. Public collections include: The Henry Moore Trust; Arts Council Collection; British Council; and the Victoria and Albert Museum.