Narration Group is a collective of women and non-binary people of colour who meet fortnightly at the South London Gallery to discuss, dissect and reclaim their narratives.
Through kitchen table discussions, readings and collaborative curatorial projects, the group inhabits and reimagines institutional spaces and social structures. They focus on understanding and unpicking the intersectional forms of discrimination which people of colour encounter, and ways to engage collectively and critically with these experiences. The group provides a space for alternative collective learning through the lenses of queer theory, black feminist thought and diasporic perspectives.
In May 2019, Narration Group presented its first public programme in conjunction with the SLG’s 2019 Local History Weekend. The group hosted a collective reading of Audre Lorde’s The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House, and presented a film programme and reading room highlighting texts exploring the concept of PERIPHERY as navigated by people of colour.
The film programme included short films by: Amrou Al-Kadhi, Jessica Ashman, Shawanda Corbett, Alnoor Dewshi, Ufuoma Essi, Deborah Findlater, Evan Ifekoya, Jessie McLaughlin, Ese Onojeruo, Shamica Ruddock and Michelle Williams Gamaker.
Between August and November 2019, Narration Group presented CURRICULUM, an archive display and fortnightly public programme culminating in the publication of A Curriculum for Collective Practice. Click here to read the publication.
Staged in the Fire Station Archive, the fortnightly workshops and public events were led by Cherelle Sappleton, Giulia Shah, Rita Gayle, Jacob V Joyce, Michelle Williams Gamaker and Nydia A. Swaby. Traces from these events were archived in real time in the archive room by London-based illustrator Olivia Twist, alongside transcriptions from each event.
Embodiments is Narration Group’s third research project.
Documented on an external webpage, the project explores the ways Black and Brown bodies hold histories, how these histories are pressed upon them and how they can corporeally connect with the past, present and future.
For Embodiments, Narration Group use material objects and focus on sensory experiences such as touch, taste, feeling, sound and sight, to explore their memories.
Throughout August and September 2020, Narration Group will take part in closed workshops exploring themes related to their Embodiments project run by artists Barby Asante, Lani Rocillo and Tabita Rezaire.
For more information about Narration Group, please contact Davinia@southlondongallery.org
Narration Group are: Amy Leung, Cherelle Sappleton, Davinia-Ann Robinson, Jessica Ashman, Leah Morris, Ese Onojeruo, Shamica Ruddock, Olivia Barnett-Naghshineh and Ufuoma Essi.
Supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund
Amy Leung is a London based artist working across sculpture, drawing and workshops to explore the articulation and communication of joy. Exploring notions of displacement and diaspora through language, Leung is currently working with her mother on a series of conversations that speak of family connections, mother tongues and unspoken questions of identity.
Cherelle Sappleton is a visual artist living and working in London. Her practice centres on photographic media with an interest in feminist agendas and performance using abstraction and surrealist aesthetics. Blending these elements together, her work uses the black female body as a starting point to explore and respond to issues of representation and agency through collage, moving image and photography.
Davinia-Ann Robinson is a contemporary visual artist working in sculpture, sound and text. Her art practice explores the politics of colonial emotions and how these are impressed onto Bodies of Colour who reside within colonial spaces. She is interested in the implications of these emotions and the sensations they create in-between the outer and inner layer of one’s skin, and the experiences of living within the societal peripheries that these emotions enable as they distort readings and connections to one’s physical and metaphorical body, connections between individual bodies, and connections to one’s environment.
Ese Onojeruo’s practice as an interdisciplinary artist and curator is underpinned by a hyper-awareness of the ways gender and race can be felt as a phenomenological experience. Onojeruo is particularly interested in how the communal experiences of ‘exclusion’ and ‘unwomening’ are shared amongst women of colour. Jade works in curating and public programmes as well as exploring institutional archives, which has allowed her to question their purpose and structures in order to understand and highlight ways in which the effects of colonisation have silently seeped into societal habits. In her practice, Onojeruo uses black feminist archival techniques to re-write and re-code narratives to include marginalised and misrepresented groups.
Jessica Ashman is a London based artist working in animation moving image and music. Her work focuses on creating experimental films, installations and performances that explore gender, identity and race, often drawing on the wider stories of the Black British diaspora communities she was raised in, especially diasporic oral testimonies that have been lost or hidden in these communities. Science fiction narratives and the metaphysical theories these narratives present are also influences on Ashman’s practice, especially when it comes to world-building within her moving image work and exploring liminal perspectives in Black consciousness. She primarily uses traditional hand-made animation processes, such as 2D drawn animation, stop-motion and frame-by-frame photo manipulation, aiming to harness the unlimited narrative possibilities of the animated world combined with immersive, music-based performative experiences.
Leah Morris is a visual storyteller working with animation, moving image and children’s stories. Her work explores the feelings and emotions that are difficult to articulate combined with her whimsical style, which for her films tends to result in ‘sad films that look happy.’
Shamica Ruddock is an artist and arts educator working predominantly across text, sound and moving image. With a background in cultural heritage, specifically archive and community engagement, much of this experience has shaped their artistic practice. Ruddock is guided by an interest in dynamics of cultural hybridity and new subjectivities, in particular how they operate as modes of production, and can inform and alter methods of enquiry. Current research topics include black technopoetics, sonic fictions and hauntology. Ruddock is particularly interested in the ways in which the black diaspora is engaged and explored through sound, where sound becomes a form of narrativising with its own unified system of signifiers.
Ufuoma Essi is a video artist, filmmaker and film programmer from Lewisham, south east London. She works predominantly with film and moving image as well as photography and sound. Her work revolves around Black feminist epistemology and the configuration of displaced histories. The archive forms an essential medium for her as an artist and it is through explorations with the archive that she aims to interrogate and disrupt the silences and gaps of historical narratives. By using the archive as a process of unlearning and discovery she seeks to re-centre the marginalised histories of the Black Atlantic and specific histories of black women. Drawing from a range of influences including black popular culture, films, music, historical texts and black feminist theory from writers such as Claudia Jones to Daphne A Brooks. Essi’s work also seeks to examine the historical and contemporary links between the Black Atlantic and explores intersectional themes of race, gender, class and sexuality.
Olivia Barnett-Naghshineh is a social anthropologist with a hybrid English-Iranian identity but has spent time living in the UK, Togo, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Thinking through her hybridity is a continuously unfolding process to both untangle and re-weave. While her academic practice focuses on moral, emotional and material economies of food and gender through research in Papua New Guinea, her teaching is rooted in decolonial, Black feminist and intersectional thought and praxis. With Narration Group, she picks up prior interests in art as a method of philosophy and for materialising thought and emotions, and explores questions of identity, belonging and connection using words, objects, sounds and portraiture to try and capture a diasporic longing for a past and present that is inaccessible.