HOT DESQUE: ‘Holding Cosmic Dust: An Almanac’
26 – 28 January 2024
Holding Cosmic Dust: An Almanac, was a video installation by artist duo, Hot Desque. Creating theatrical environments through their collaborative practice, with An Almanac Hot Desque alludes to the behind-the-scenes of a speculative archaeological dig in which a matriarchal society is uncovered. The installation drew connections between archaeology, history and fantasy. It was delivered in conjunction with an exhibition intervention within the permanent, local archaeological collection of the Corinium Museum, in Cirencester.
At the Swiss Church, in a new video work, digital renderings, handmade drawings and metal embossings evoked a constellation of relics and remnants from the matriarchal society, found within a mysterious forest site. Highlighting processes of observational study and embellishment, who or what is making the analysis is left unknown.
The exhibition questioned how knowledge is made or verified and the role fantasy plays in these processes. It emphasises connections between multiple timescales at once and the role of the human hand in shaping stories. Humanity’s relationship to the past extends to the geological deep time, our species’ impact is questioned on planetary and ecological scales, and extinctions are not only a thing of the past but also the present and the future.
During the private view, Hot Desque was in conversation with historian Frederika Tevebring, who contributed an essay to the accompanying publication. They discussed Hot Desque’s worldbuilding practice, past and possible future matriarchal societies, fantasy in archaeology and the role of art in creating alternative narratives at times of planetary crises.
The collaborative video brought together artworks by Holly Graham, Rubie Green, Rebeca Romero, Amba Sayal-Bennett, Abel Shah and Suzanne Treister.
Learn more about Holding Cosmic Dust on the Corinium Museum website.
Learn more about Hot Desque.
Holding Cosmic Dust is supported by The Corinium Museum, Arts Council England, The Swiss Church, Hypha Studios and Woodlands UK.
A wider project is delivered in collaboration with Peckham Levels, Step Out Mentoring, Lab Gloucestershire Library and Cirencester and Bingham Library.
AMANDA CAMENISCH & THERESE WESTIN: ‘A Home Is A Cloud’
12 – 13 January 2024
The Swiss Church in London is pleased to host ‘A Home Is A Cloud’, an exhibition by Amanda Camenisch and Therese Westin.
A Home Is A Cloud is a large-scale movement and sound piece conceived by Amanda Camenisch and Therese Westin, directed and performed by Abimbola, Clara Soyinka, Dotty, Elizabeth Addoi, Florence Musa, Freida C. McNeil, Funmilda Olojo, Grace Ade, Grace Owolabi, Jani, Ladun Mary Oguntoyinbo, Leo, Ms Jumoke, Margaret, Pham B Long, Priyanka G Geriya, Sharon, Sungyeon Kim, Vanessa Mirza, Zara.
Over a period of 3 months, the group has met weekly and explored notions of home, faith and belonging through the lens of music and movement as a form of worship. The result is a 45 minute long, part scripted part, improvised score, consisting of collective movement and song, interspersed with individual solo pieces.
On Saturday 13th January, there was a late afternoon sound meditation performed by Florence Musa, Freida C. McNeil, Priyanka G Geriya, Sharon and Sungyeon Kim, using the 4 elemental sound sculptures created specifically for the project.
About the Artists:
Working with sound, textiles, sculpture and poetry as art-making and healing practices, Amanda & Therese develop collaborative projects that centre the experiences of its participants through a trauma-informed approach.
Focusing on facilitating holistic spaces and experiences that become conduits for artistic expression, the artists tend to both individual and collective needs in the process of developing projects and creating artworks with various private and public outcomes.
Some of the performers are people with whom Amanda and Therese have worked with for several years, some have joined the project just a few months ago. The foundation for the collective creative process has been a deep appreciation for music and sound, movement, and conversations around faith and belonging. The voices and stories, poems and songs of Abimbola, Clara Soyinka, Dotty, Elizabeth Addoi, Florence Musa, Freida C. McNeil, Funmilda Olojo, Grace Ade, Grace Owolabi, Jani, Ladun Mary Oguntoyinbo, Leo, Ms Jumoke, Margaret, Pham B Long, Priyanka G Geriya, Sharon, Sungyeon Kim, Vanessa Mirza, Zara will feature in a 4 part radio program on Montez Press Radio.
The collectively created sound scores and individual solos will be pressed onto a vinyl record that can be purchased later on in the year.
ANNA FEARON ‘Legacy of Family’
3 – 4 Novemeber 2023
The Swiss Church in London is pleased to present Legacy of Family, an exhibition by 2023 Artist in Residence, Anna Fearon.
Through a series of staged photographs, Legacy of Family is a celebration of chosen family, specifically within Black and POC queer communities, and the space that facilitates these connections.
“The Legacy of Family is a meditation and celebration of black queer community and chosen family. It is an exploration of movement and the synergy of dancing bodies moving to a single rhythm, and how these moments transcend beyond the dance floor. The fleeting joy of the club nights that become temporary havens in impermanent spaces to seek community and freedom, becoming a space that invites the possibility to dream. Dreams of nature, of freedom of movement, of thriving, living and loving.The work here seeks to embody the intangible feeling of intimacy, community and spirituality.” – Anna Fearon
Find out more about Anna Fearon.
2023 BALLET GALA: FOUR SEASONS
6 September 2023
Each year, with the help of ballet dancer and choreographer, Ruth Gordon-Jaeggi, the Swiss Church in London puts together a Ballet Gala and fundraising event to help support our Arts Programme. This event not only allows us to share a glimpse into our annual Arts Programme but also helps us support our amazing artists and exhibition programme throughout the year.
This September we travelled through Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn, in an evening filled with music by Franz Schubert, Paso & Garcia Alvarez and Antonio Vivaldi and performances choreographed by the lovely Ruth Gordon-Jaeggi with local dancers and artists.
Collaboration with London College of Communication
18 – 23 July 2023
DDS (Elliot Buchanan, Martyn Riley and Benjamin Harrison) are a sound art collective exploring acoustic spatiality.
Caving is an investigation into archaeoacoustic histories of resonance and how the relationship between sound and space can allow access to the divine. The sound installation is a negotiation of the acoustic properties of The Swiss Church and its resonant frequencies to create complex harmonies and resonant entanglements.
This exhibition is part of our collaboration with London College of Communication’s MA Sound Art programme.
ART PROGRAMME ALUMNI EVENT
5th July 2023
FABIENNE HESS ‘Softly Swaying’
Softly Swaying explored the themes of community and gift exchange through silk prints.The photographs printed onto the hangings depict gifts exchanged in the community at the church.
Hess sees gift exchange within a group as offering equilibrium and coherence, “a kind of anarchist stability”.
Hess saw the church’s community not as one coherent unit, but as a number of partially overlapping groups. Her installation, which consisted of over a dozen differently shaped prints, reflected this free-flowing complexity.
With thanks to the Swiss Embassy for the Launch Reception drinks.
SARAH WHITE ‘He Whom You Shall Love Is Absent’
with tyroneisaacstuart and Gardner & Gardner
Performances | Saturday 15 April 2023
He Whom You Shall Love Is Absent is an improvised dance performance by Sarah White, with tyroneisaacstuart: exploring faith and doubt, belief and disbelief. The work exists within the space of improvised performance – and the acts of attention, listening and contemplation – as a site for sense-making of the unknown or not-yet-fully-known. The performance itself is a site for movement research and generation.
Physical Editing presents: UNEARTHED
Evening Film Screening by Goldsmith’s Department of Design
31st March 2023 | 7:30pm – 10:30pm
A series of films and excavated artifacts produced through methods of acting and recovery, highlighting moments of learning ‘real-time’ through a selection of ethnographic responses and to unearth frictions and feedback that occur between the actor and its subject.
CORA SEHGAL CUTHBERT ‘I Left Love Here Somewhere’
Artist in Residence 2022 Exhibition
11 – 13 November 2022
I Left Love Here Somewhere is a mixed media installation based upon the artist’s relationship with her Nan, and is the culminating exhibition of her 2022 Artist Residency at the Swiss Church.
Made up of text, photography, sculpture and print, the installation explores the ways in which the themes of family, immigration, spirituality, grief, isolation, mental health, care, love and loss intertwine.
When all seems to be lost, can love still be found?
Cora Sehgal Cuthbert is a London based multi disciplinary artist. Throughout her practice, she is constantly searching for, and presenting, the extraordinary in the ordinary. Influenced by artists, poets and philosophers like Mark Leckey, William Blake and Iris Murdoch, Cora’s work observes the intersections and connections between the personal, the cultural and a universal humanity/spirituality.
Find out more about the Cora Sehgal Cuthbert
ALI CLARKE & GARY SCHOLES ‘Sanctuary’
27 – 30 October 2022
This collaborative exhibition by Artist duo Ali Clarke and Gary Scholes explored ideas of home and belonging. Taking inspiration from the disparate and striking surrounding architecture and the stories of people within the Swiss Church and Covent Garden community, artists Ali Clarke and Gary Scholes created a series of structures that symbolise individual sanctuaries. The exhibition included model making, sculpture and digital print inviting visitors to explore the artworks up close.
Find out more about the artists
Ali Clarke’s website
Gary Schole’s website
BALLET GALA 2022 ‘A Floral Landscape’
Organised by Ruth Gordon
1 October 2022
An afternoon of music and classical ballet at the Swiss Church to raise funds for the church’s Arts Programme.
This year’s gala was organised by Ruth Gordon, retired Swiss ballet dancer and member of the Art Committee, in collaboration with the Art Committee. The Art Committee organises regular art events at the Swiss Church to foster the dialogue between the secular and the sacred world, and to support early and mid-career artists on their journeys.
The programme is inspired by the painting A Floral Landscape by former Swiss Benevolent Officer Petra Kehr-Cocks.
Watch the gala documentary video here
CAROL WYSS ‘The Mind has Mountains’
27 – 28 August 2022
Wyss showed an immersive installation ‘The Mind has Mountains’. Carol used images of structures inside the human skull, evoking mountainous landscapes.
Find out more about the Carol Wyss
RICHARD NIK EVANS ‘PretaVasculum – A Container of Ghosts’
20 – 23 July 2022
Evan’s show asked the question what would happen if evolution had taken a different course and algae had developed a complex intelligence of its own? The show presented us with a selection of these results, and exhibiting them in the Swiss Church, Richard asked us to address these forms on a symbolic, philosophical and poetic level.
Find out more about the Richard Nik Evans
ABEL SHAH ‘Exodysis I’
Artists in Residence 2021 Exhibition
Our Swiss Church London Artists in Residence for 2021 are Abel Shah, an artistic duo consisting of the Alex Bell and Guilia Shah who have developed new work within the Swiss Church studio space.
Abel Shah have a mutual interest in the relationship between language and the body, structures of power, and the distribution of knowledge and ideas through technologies. They create multimedia installations, publications and internet art.
Abel Shah on Exodysis I: During our time in residence with The Swiss Church in London we have been experimenting with materials we find around ourselves in everyday life and which have been integral to the developments of the 20th and 21st century’s, including urban housing, high-speed transportation, healthcare technologies, information storage and control of movement. By using materials which make up the shells of our everyday environments and recent histories, the sculptures we have made start to act as symbols of the layered-ness of our own skins and experiences.
Exodysis I is an open-ended sculptural installation that invites others to engage, leave traces and create memories within the installation. The body of work has developed alongside ongoing dialogues with fellow practitioners and collaborators and we have been thinking about how meaning and relationships are built through language and exploring alternative ways of communicating.
MARGUERITE HUMEAU ‘WEEDS’ (Partnership with Goldsmiths University)
What if extinct voices were brought back to life? How can we make silenced and invisible knowledge visible?
As part of the Goldsmith’s partnership with the Swiss Church, the 2021 exhibition presented Marguerite Humeau’s new sound piece WEEDS, realised in collaboration with the musician Lafawndah in 2021. The exhibition also included a number of talks titled “Rendering the Invisible Visible” from those such as Simone Voegelin, Gina Buenfeld-Murley, Aliya Say, and Rasheeqa Ahmad.
WEEDS is a tribute to past and present women who have had an impact in the development of medicine, but whose knowledge and names have been put aside from the official narrative.
Throughout history women have been midwives, pharmacists, doctors, botanists, and healers. They contributed to the development and research of medicine, and they had an important role in their community. Nevertheless, many have been cast out of the official narrative of medical history. Their practices have often been associated with witchcraft and they were victims of the Witch Hunts, which raged in Europe between the 14th and the 19th century. A considerable body of knowledge surrounding plants and their healing effects has been lost.
Led by the repeated sound of a gong, a voice – musician Lafawndah – lists names of women and fragments of their history. Through the simple but caring act of naming them, Marguerite Humeau brings them back to the very centre, giving them a voice, a power, and a presence. WEEDS is the result of an important work of investigation and research by the artist, typical of her creative process.
This project has been made in partnership with Goldsmiths University and the Swiss Church.
Art reproduced by d&b audiotechnik.
HOT DESQUE ‘Model Village’
Artists in Residence Exhibition 2020
Founded in 2018, Hot Desque is an artist-curatorial partnership by Lizzy Drury and Neena Percy, showing emerging and established artists within site-specific exhibitions, writing publications and hosting events.
Hot Desque have worked on projects in temporary settings across the UK, including a former nightclub. The exhibitions aim to bring artworks together as part of a theatrical mise-en-scène, providing a platform for experimentation and interdependence.
At the end of the residency, Hot Desque showed the exhibition Model Village at the Swiss Church. The exhibition took the form of a series of artist- made scale models. These were used as alternative exhibition spaces as part of the resulting project of nomadic curatorial platform Hot Desque’s residency at the church.
Read more about the Hot Desque
Artist in Residence 2019
Hamed Maiye is a multidisciplinary artist and curator based in London that uses portraiture as a means of expressing emotional identity and heritage. Maiye founded the arts movement ‘Afro-Portraitism’ which documents the multifaceted image of the contemporary youth of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora whilst exploring the concept of self representation. One of the key drivers in Maiye’s collaborative practice is the introduction of new personal narratives and creating visibility for those who are often marginalised.
During his residency Maiye wished to explore the parallels between spiritualism, surrealism and reality:
“I am interested in the space between reality and surrealism and how these can reflect/inform each other. This space of cross reflection will be grounds to research a visual language and aesthetic of personal utopias and safe spaces. My research will include exploring different forms of iconography and implementing it into my practice in order to create a body of work.”
Read more about the Hamed Maiye
Photo exhibition – Curated by Daniella Rossi
Andy Palfreyman was homeless for 30 years after he left his parental home in Cheshire at the age of 19. He slept mostly in the streets of London in various postcodes. Life changed in 2015 after a chance conversation with an artist who had an exhibition next to the Swiss Church, where he used to come for weekly breakfast. That’s how he got his first camera and the necessary support for his artistic work.
“Photography is a way of expressing myself and how I see the world. Until 2015 I had no idea I had any artistic talent and I didn’t believe in myself. I had very little self-worth, hence 30 years on the streets. Photography empowers me and hopefully is going to raise awareness for homelessness. This is what it’s about for me.”
Andy held his first exhibition ‘Cardboard and Caviar’ at the Swiss Church in London in December 2015 showing some of the doorways that became home. The exhibition was a great success with exposure in the Evening Standard, BBC London News and Buzzfeed. In 2017 the exhibition was also shown in Zurich, Switzerland.
Andy describes the content of his second photography exhibition: “When you are street homeless you tend to look down and notice things most of the general public don’t see. It strikes a chord with me, why it’s there, how it got there, and I photograph it. It feels like I’m the only person who sees it. Some of these things can be upsetting, but I see it from a homeless person’s point of view. When I see these things I can personally relate to them. For example in Shaftesbury Avenue there is a broken spanner pressed into the tarmac and I bet no one else can see it but me. It reminds me how homeless people are pushed down and become invisible. Once a homeless guy walked past me, it just started to rain, and he left footprints on the wet pavement. I call this photograph The Invisible Homeless.”
SARA RODRIGUES AND TYLER EASH ‘Allusion to a Body no Longer Present’
Curated by Camille Brechignac and George Watson (Partnership with Goldsmiths University)
“Allusion to a Body No Longer Present” is made of four main elements: a stage-like installation, a performance, a conversation room, and two audience-engaging events. The work, created specifically for the Swiss Church, deals with questions of impermanence, legacy and significance, heightened by the location within a church.
Curators Camille Bréchignac and George Watson presented a newly commissioned performative installation by Tyler Eash and Sara Rodrigues. The work is informed by the artists’ interaction within the Swiss Church community, the performance taking as its point of departure interviews with the congregation on questions of mortality, faith and legacy. The focus on community extends to the curated conversation room – providing a comfortable space to converse about the exhibition.
This project has been made in partnership with Goldsmiths University and the Swiss Church.
MARY BRANSON ‘A Conversation with My Mother’
Her first large installation since the iconic New Dawn in the Houses of Parliament, A Conversation with My Mother explores the notion of loss through dementia and the power of the subconscious to offer insights into the nature of grief.
Set in the captivating space of the Swiss Church, Covent Garden, the piece included sculpture and soundscape interviews with a diverse group of women who talk about relationships with their mothers.
Find out more about the artist
ANDY PALFREYMAN ‘Homelos’
After the success of Andy Palfreyman’s photography exhibition Cardboard and Caviar at the Swiss Church in 2015, the exhibition toured to Zurich in 2017. The Offene Kirche St. Jakob and the Grossmuenster hosted the project HomeLos with a series of events, including art exhibitions, panel discussions and writing workshops for young people.
ANDY PALFREYMAN ‘Cardboard and Caviar’
Andy has been living in the streets for 30 years. We met him through our outreach work, and he soon after started to photograph the places where he was sleeping rough. The exhibition is the result of his street photography and he wants to raise awareness for street homelessness with his work.
Read a review here.
ANDREA GOHL ‘Endell Street’
For over a year Swiss artist Andrea Gohl has explored Endell Street and its people. The art installation brought together fragments of this research in photography, video and text.