Friday 28th May 2021 to
Friday 6th August 2021
The exhibition reflects on the construction of female identity in relation to geography, partly inspired by research into the imagery of the Thames Estuary. More broadly, Alicia has explored the metaphorical dimension and rich symbolism of the sea, and of estuaries and rivers, considering them as areas of movement, exchange, transition and renewal. Within this context, she examines historical female figures, such as notable swimmers, among others. Global relationships of mutual support and women’s empowerment are also explored.
Alicia’s paintings and sculptures focus on a dream-like, instinctive process, referencing water and the notion of fluidity/change as positive forces in the formation of the female self. The Beecroft Art Gallery has remarkable paintings of ships and seafaring, and also an ensemble of vintage wedding dresses and women’s period bathing costumes, the iconography of which has informed the making of some of Alicia’s works as a kind of subtext or backstory. This has led her to create visually impacting portraits of women, rooted in a complex, emotive past.
Formally and visually, the exhibition’s aesthetic is anchored in the blue and white ceramic tradition of both European delftware and Mexican Talavera tiles. Alicia imitates in oil painting both the look and surface of the tiles, using a myriad of trompe l’oeil techniques. The works in the exhibition are part of her on-going Laughing Walls series, in which multi-faceted representations of jubilant ‘walls’ allow for an exploration and interweaving of narratives. In the context of 18th century rococo ornamentation, the paintings playfully consider the decorative as a pictorial tool. The works often incorporate the image of a speech bubble, as a way of representing female expression and shared creativity, through a kind of ‘conversation’ between the represented portraits and figures.
The motif of the ‘tree’ in relation to the shape of estuaries is also explored, as a symbol of multiplicity within unity, and of nature’s cyclical life-flow. Sculptural installations composed of brass and also plywood silhouettes, as well as over-sized ceramic necklaces, further expand on the exhibition’s themes.
For the sound piece Soñadoras, Michael has composed and edited an interplay of original musical arrangements and recorded dream narratives. The dreams are narrated out-loud, both in English and Spanish, by a group of ‘dreamers’, made up of women artists and art-world professionals. This presentation of the oneiric subconscious seeks to create a modulated, intimate and aesthetically impressive experience that we hope will captivate the public, in graceful dialogue with the dreamlike creativity of Alicia’s paintings and sculptures. The sound piece, which was first presented by Michael at the Leonora Carrington Museum in Mexico, is available to the public by scanning a QR code visible both at the Beecroft Gallery and on the exhibition’s poster, installed throughout Southend-on-Sea.
Listen to the Sound Piece
Saturday 12 June – 2 tours of the show, at 15:00 & 16:00, with artist Alicia Paz and curator Lassla Esquivel present, to answer any questions from the audience and to provide some insights into the works displayed, and the ideas guiding the artistic process.
Book your place here!