Sweet Dreams

Brighton CCA is delighted to present A Quiet Fire exhibition

The first major exhibition of works in a UK institution by Malawian artist Billie Zangewa is now running at Brighton CCA until Sun 14 May. A Quiet Fire includes an epic, site-specific seascape. It is inspired by Sussex and has been commissioned by CCA. Zangewa has adopted the format and scale of the classical canon . Including grand tapestries and history painting, she chronicles the experience of the marginalised and under-represented. The show will also tour to John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, and Tramway, Glasgow during the rest of 2023. 

The Inquisition

A Brighton debut

The newly commissioned work is the artist’s largest to date. It is a response to her visit to Brighton and the location of the gallery. As with all her works there is a balance and tension within them. Something which is between an empowered sense of independence and the casual bigotry and racism of the everyday experience. The artist talks about this new work as being something of a turning point. It is a more joyful perspective on life. The new scale of the piece invokes a grand narrative which places previous troubles in the shade.

Throughout her work Zangewa creates intricate figurative collages from hand-stitched fragments of raw silk. She challenges the historical stereotypes of objectification and exploitation of Black women. From her earliest works, embroideries depicting remembered botanical scenes from Botswana, Zangewa has transitioned to cityscapes focusing on her experience as a woman in the city of Johannesburg. These works led her to think more critically about how women view themselves. She also asks what the visualization of the female gaze, through self-portraiture, could look like. 

Every Woman

A word from Brighton CCA director

There is inspiration there in that this new large work has been produced in such challenging conditions in South Africa. Power cuts, economic hardship, all on top of racial tension,” said Brighton CCA Director, Ben Roberts. “That she is able to produce work of this kind at all says a great deal.”

Also, a retrospective of Zangewa’s work from the last ten years is being exhibited as part of A Quiet Fire. These works are reflective of both a domestic life and her determination to be seen on her own terms. They speak powerfully to the artists’ ongoing mission to challenge the mainstream cultural, racial and social silos in which Black women are placed.

Sweetest Devotion

Through the method of their making and narrative content, Zangewa shows gendered labour in a socio-political context, where the domestic sphere becomes a pretext for a deeper understanding of the construction of identity, questions around gender stereotypes, and racial prejudice. Reflecting the artists’ life and experience as a single mother, which she refers to as a ‘daily feminism’, the works define a space for representation of Black female domestic life, ambition, hope and identity.

www.brightoncca.art Zangewa at Brighton CCA

Also see Like No Other at Phoenix Art Space

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