Womxn of Colour Art Award, 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning
Today I come with a small article but I wanted to share this amazing bi-annual art award organised by the 198 CAL in Herne Hill, London. Find the winner below and my personal two favourite of the show.
It was in October 2019 that 198 contemporary arts and learning launched its first bi-annual Womxn of Colour Art Award. Recognising inequities for women of colour in visual arts, it provides financial and developmental support to help UK based artists and collectives in their career.
The second iteration of the WOCAA Exhibition is on until 13th August at 198 CAL and was curated by Languid Hands. Titled Resonance, the group exhibition is showcasing 7 women artists in multidisciplinary practices: award-winner Rebecca Bellantoni, and finalists Tamara Al-Mashouk, Arianna Cheung, Jessica Ashman, Tyreis Holder, Shamica Ruddock, and Joyce Treasure.
Rebecca Bellantoni is a London-based artist whose practice aims to abstracts everyday life occurrences through installation, moving image, performance, photography, textiles, printmaking, sculpture, sound-text and ceramics. Researching through the aesthetic of a vast range of fields such as Black women's literature, spirituality or metaphysics, Bellantoni she separates 2 'real' the experienced one from the imaginary ('accepted/expected'). By removing borders between these 2 realms, she gives a meditative experience towards self-exploration, collective reasoning and healing through action.
Despite Rebecca Bellantoni being the winner of the show, I had my own favourites. My two preferred artists were Jessica Ashman and Tyreis Holder. It is interesting how things you see resonate with you and make sense once you read about it.
In 'Heterotopic' (2023) Jessica Ashman addresses the colonial perceptions of the Caribbean as paradise, she is reimagining folklore characters of the culture, and the difficulty and complexities of black diasporic homecoming. I was amazed by the use of medium of paint on a screen where a video was projected on from the back. The work was accompanied by a sound piece, making the artwork immersive, and creating a layering of stories told.
In her practice, Ashman is interested in telling the wider stories of Black British diaspora communities she grew up in and other forgotten stories. Mixing Black radical feminist theory and science fiction literature, the artist connects past and future together, utopias, ancestors and lived experiences.
The second work that attracted me was by artist Tyreis Holder. ‘Womb Welcoming’ explores themes of ancestral healing, generational trauma, and mother/womanhood. The textiles #sculpture stand tall and powerful, also exhibiting a poetic language including on the textile, written in between the stitches.
Tyreis Holder is an artist, and poet from South London centring her practice on identity, politics, and psychological relationship regarding navigating colonial spaces and Black women’s experience trauma in that same topic.
About the Space:
"Founded in 1988, 198’s motivation initially focused on the need to provide a platform for Afro-Caribbean and Asian artists as part of the Black arts movement. For nearly 30 years this work has evolved and continued to develop with projects that consider the work and study of emerging cultural identities, through exhibitions, workshops, education projects and critical debate with artists, thinkers, activists, young people and local and artistic communities. We advocate for diversity within the visual arts and provide opportunities for those wishing to develop careers in the creative and cultural industries. In 2017, 198 achieved Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation status as part of a consortium with Photofusion and Raw Material. A further validation of its important work came later in 2017 when the Venice Biennale launched its first diaspora pavilion, with 6 of the 12 chosen artists having exhibited at 198."