Can You Hear It? : Private View 16 November 6-8pm

17 November - 16 December 2022

In Can you hear it? Cooke Latham Gallery brings together five multi-disciplinary artists where sound is incorporated into their practice. The exhibition explores the unheard sound that informs, or is implicit to, the artworks on display. A ‘deafening’ silence is often articulated as the vacuum following intense sound: the vibration of an empty auditorium or the sonic void in the aftermath of a storm. Similarly, Can you hear it? becomes an experiment as to how sound operates within the quiet of the gallery. Artists included are Emmanuel Awuni, Serena Korda, Anna Liber Lewis, Fani Parali and Candida Powell-Williams.


Emmanuel Awuni and Fani Parali both refer to ‘call and response’ within the context of their work. In Awuni’s practice the non-hierarchical sounds of Hip-Hop, Rap, Pidgin English and Patois translate into a nuanced, equally non-hierarchical visual language. In interview he refers to Black music in relation to dance, ‘how we do not imitate what we hear.’ In the same way his artwork responds to but does not imitate the music that underpins it. If music is the call, the artwork is the response.


The new work conceived by Parali for the exhibition responds to her long-term preoccupation with carers and guardians as well as the power of the voice to carry someone’s presence beyond the physical limitations of the body. Channeling her own recent experience of becoming a parent and the trauma of having a child in Neonatal Intensive Care, she reflects upon the trust required ‘in others, but also in yourself, that you can be present even when you are absent.’ The work is comprised of a metal armature reminiscent of an incubator and a series of intimate, tender drawings. The only piece in the exhibition where sound can be activated by the audience, the audio work and drawings operate as call and response, a complex layering of sound and visual material that mimics the nuanced language of mother and child.


Anna Liber Lewis refers to music as playing an important role within the studio, allowing her to access certain emotions that have been trapped within her body and enabling them to be played out on the canvas. The studio is an arena in which she listens to music but also to herself, ‘an Anechoic Chamber where I listen to my nervous system and move the sense datum which remains trapped in my body.’ Working in both paint and print her practice acknowledges the feedback between the two mediums and the paramount importance of listening; of allowing the paintings to be built or erased.


In the work of both Candida Powell-Williams and Serena Korda the sculptures on display can operate as vessels for sound. Korda’s three clay vessels are members of the Jug Choir, a body of work inspired by the diverse historical instances of jugs being used as musical instruments. The sculptures reference 16th century Bellarmine Jugs, domestic objects that bear a signature bearded face, these pitchers were later used as ‘Witches Bottles,’ voodoo vessels in which the male figurine was filled with votive offerings of cloth, bent nails, urine etc. As protection against ‘witches,’ these jugs question preconceived notions of gender, hysteria and the pivotal role of ritual within violence. As interpreted by Korda they become a sonic army, one that has ‘performed’ in many different iterations, both as a choir and silently.


Candida Powell-Williams’ anthropomorphic bells are part of an ongoing series based on empowered goddess idols from the 6th and 7th century BC. They explore the repulsion and attraction inherent to bells historically, having been used both to fend off evil spirits and to call people to worship. Powell Williams uses the bells to create soundscapes for her performances, synthesising and layering singular rings, and warping their cadence to create a music that constantly refutes order by falling in and out of sync with the beat. ‘Sitting’ upon a long shelf, their dangling lets the clappers to the domes of their bodies, they embody the concept of sound in repose.