A new work – A Simple Act of Wonder – by acclaimed artists Walter & Zoniel celebrates human connection and our experiences of joy in unprecedented times. The collaborative project is a co-commission with Brighton Festival and was originally due for completion in April but was put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis.
Colourful, outdoor artworks are on display in the Brighton suburbs of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean for residents to experience from their homes or during outdoor activity. Painting of this new work, which was planned by the artists at home during lock-down, is now underway so local communities can be the first to see it unfold.
The artists will use brightly coloured house paint, grass paint and gels to create interventions on community spaces and streets, bringing a rich palette of colour to the residential areas. The work was created during a unique period in our national and global history: the COVID-19 pandemic and at a time where social connectivity is both digitally prevalent and physically absent. It examines the issues of human connection, inclusivity and our experiences of joy. With a mix of colour, photography, humour, meditation, heritage and geography, Walter & Zoniel forge a tender connection between people and communities.
Walter & Zoniel spent the early part of 2020 getting to know the communities of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean to develop the series of collaborative interventions. All of the works respond to the stories that they gathered from the residents they met and the architectural character and history of the place. The work creates a temporary transformation of the neighbourhood through a new aesthetic that teases out a different story about the locations, a story that complicates and contradicts the prevailing narrative of this area.
At Fabrica, Walter & Zoniel have applied an equally bright treatment to the gallery space, creating a large floor piece that echoes the interventions at Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, whilst playing off interior details, such as the stained-glass windows, steep curves and tall ceilings. A new series of Walter & Zoniel’s ‘over-painted photographic portraits’ – which remove the visual identity of their subject whilst leaving their settings intact – are also featured in the exhibition.
Liz Whitehead, Fabrica’s Director, curator of the project said:
“For Fabrica, A Simple Act of Wonder is the first in what we hope will become a longer-term programme of opportunities for artists that link to the Moulsecoomb and Bevendean communities through the visual arts. We are excited to begin this journey, with such colourful and joyful artwork, that so many people can see and that so many took part in making. We wanted to highlight it now, for the communities that helped bring it to life and who are able to experience the works at a safe distance, whether that be on their daily outdoor time or to brighten the journey of one of our valued key workers. We hope once it is safe to do so we can work to create new connections across the city as planned and use this work to do so.”
The artists added:
“The outdoor works in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean celebrate areas of the city that have a wealth of fascinating stories, which we have drawn inspiration from in creating a new narrative whilst exploring the nature of connectedness and concept of representation. We have used our favourite tools of playfulness and surrealism on a large scale to engage people in the wonder that is naturally present around us, but maybe less often observed. We hope that the communities in these areas we have created the works will enjoy them for now and others can visit when they are able.”
During lockdown, the artists have been making a series of video diaries to record the project and giving an insight into their process of making the work. The videos are published on Fabrica’s YouTube channel.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions the exhibition can be accessed digitally through Fabrica’s website and social media platforms.