Wayfinder: Larry Achiampong & JMW Turner curated by Larry Achiampong
We present the first major solo exhibition by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong. The exhibition includes the newly commissioned feature-length film 'Wayfinder', which follows a young girl’s journey across England. Achiampong has also curated a display of paintings by JMW Turner and collaborated with Turner Contemporary to create a gaming room.
Wayfinder (2022) is Achiampong’s most ambitious film to date. Set in a pandemic, it follows the Wanderer, a young girl played by Perside Rodrigues, on an intrepid journey across England. Travelling from North to South, she passes through different regions, towns and landscapes, encountering people, stories and situations on her way. Across six chapters, including ‘The North’, ‘The Big Smoke’ and ‘The Kingdom of the East’, this epic film builds a dialogue about class and economic exclusion, belonging and displacement, cultural heritage and the meaning of home.
The Wanderer acts as a witness to accounts, conversations, places and histories. Setting out from the ancient paths of Hadrian’s Wall, she explores many environments, from a housing estate in Wellingborough to E. Pellicci Café in Bethnal Green, and the National Gallery deserted at night, eventually reaching the sea at Margate.
Running time: 83 minutes, 35 seconds.
Screening times: 10.30am, 12pm, 1.30pm & 3pm.
The exhibition will also include the largest UK presentation of Achiampong’s Relic Traveller project (2017 – ongoing). This multi-disciplinary work envisages a pan-African alliance of travellers who explore landscapes of the near future, collecting testimonies of those who have been historically oppressed by colonialism, capitalism and globalisation. The installation will incorporate all five Relic films, Relic flags and a new series of life-size Relic Traveller figures (The Relic Travellers’ Alliance: Assembly 1 & 2, 2021).
Other works in film, sound and collage will also be included, such as Achiampong’s Glyth collages (2013 – ongoing). The faces of each black person in family photos have been replaced with cubist-like circles and red lips in these works, referencing experiences of racism growing up in East London, the Robertson’s Golliwog mascot still in circulation until 2002, and the Guy Fawkes mask from Alan Moore’s comic V For Vendetta.
JMW Turner, curated by Larry Achiampong
Throughout our programme we invite artists to explore the legacy of our namesake, JMW Turner, creating new routes for our audiences into both historic and contemporary art.
Alongside his exhibition, Achiampong has curated a display of paintings by JMW Turner. He has selected a group of oil paintings, watercolours, engravings and sketchbooks, predominantly from Turner’s British tours and including locations which feature in Wayfinder.
The Gaming Room
As part of the exhibition, we will be showcasing many of the video games that have influenced Achiampong’s work, examples include; Ico, Journey, Inside, Legend of Zelda and Ori and the Blind Forest. The Gaming Room will include playable consoles, a workshop area, a stage for talks and game soundtracks. The space will be free to access.
Working with BAFTA Young Game Designers (BAFTA YGD), The Prince’s Trust (The Prince’s Trust) and Into Games (Into Games) the gallery will offer game design workshops and talks for families and schools, to inspire people from every background to discover careers in the games industry.
Larry Achiampong X People Dem Collective
Just before the exhibition opened, Achiampong spent an evening in the gallery with People Dem Collective and the Lived Experience Crew. Achiampong said:
For me, creating this show meant much more than just making artworks look interesting and presenting them. There are a lot of things that art can do in encouraging food for thought, or posing important questions – but without placing people at the centre, it becomes nothing more than an exercise in self-indulgence dictated by the creator in my opinion. This is why it was imperative for me to spend time with Kelly, Victoria, People Dem Collective and the Lived Experienced Crew in listening to their stories of what connects these different members of communities that make Margate (and to a larger extent the United Kingdom) what it is. I’m a young Black man raised by immigrant parents, I’ve experienced poverty growing up in this country and continue to face various aspects of prejudice. These experiences both inform and help to shape the direction in which I make work. It was an honour to not only be welcomed by People Dem Collective, but for the community to give me their blessing before the exhibition opened to the public.
‘It’s been more than just an honour for People Dem Collective & the Lived Experience Crew to work with Larry Achiampong, as his work has inspired us all for years.
Him being here in Margate has been elevating for our community, how only our community can comprehend.
The private view was sacred to us all, and the second time we have made Black British history with the Turner Contemporary, the first being the Margate 2 Minneapolis exhibition.
Walking around the town, watching & ear winging on conversations of other Black & Brown people leaving the gallery has been beautiful, its impact is pure Black joy. Our community have been walking, chest higher, grinning teeth, proud and taking ownership of the show. It has changed the way we use the space and helped dissolve the stereotype that the Black experience is just an urban one. lets continue to change the script.
Kelly Abbott, Founder & Co-Director of People Dem Collective
About People Dem Collective
People Dem Collective is a registered CIC and community organisation based in Margate, Kent. Founded by members of the Black, Brown and *Diaspora communities.
*People of cultural heritage other than the place they were born.
The collective was born out of a lived experience of lack of space, engagement and inclusion for these communities and a desire to encourage healing and transformation.
Art on the Underground
In April, Art on the Underground launches a major new permanent commission by Larry Achiampong for Westminster Underground station titled PAN AFRICAN FLAG FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS’ ALLIANCE (UNION). Using bold Pan African colours – green, black, red and yellow-gold – Achiampong re-imagines the iconic London Underground roundel logo above the main entrance to the station. Linked artworks are featured on posters and on the cover of the 35th pocket Tube Map, printed in an edition of two million.
On Wayfinder: Larry Achiampong and JMW Turner curated by Larry Achiampong, the artist says:
This project feels like a poignant moment for me, not just professionally and as a maker of films, but also personally. It has felt very important and necessary, especially at this point in time to be able to bring this range of subject matter and conversations to the table at what is increasingly becoming a contentious moment of our times.
I am so excited to share the expansive vision of this story which marks a new and exciting stage in my art practice. I never set out to create a film of this size, but due to the scope of ideas that evolved along the way, it increasingly became inevitable that this would become my first feature film.
Larry Achiampong (born 1984, London) works in film, sculpture, installation, sound, collage, music and performance. Drawing on popular culture and his communal and personal heritage, his work explores post-colonial and post-digital identity, and the deeply entrenched inequalities in contemporary society.