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87 Gallery to host Folklore Imaginary by Brixton-based artist Maya Gurung-Russell Campbell

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87 Gallery have announced they are to host artist Maya Gurung-Russell Campbell for her first UK-based solo exhibition, Folklore Imaginary from 24 September to 17 December.

Drawing inspiration from the longstanding traditions of mask-making and masquerade in the Caribbean and Nepal, Brixton-based artist Maya Gurung-Russell Campbell creates evocative landscapes that explore her dual heritage. Incorporating sound, moving image, oral history, poetry and analogue photography, her practice centres matrilineal mythologies and lived experience, whilst interrogating universal themes. 

Curator Becky Gee says, “Maya exhibited her first moving image piece, ‘Adding a Face’, as part of New Contemporaries 2021. It immediately caught my attention and I knew that I wanted to bring her work to Hull. We are delighted to present Maya’s first solo exhibition, which brings together a rich and compelling body of work made in the UK and Nepal over the past year. I can’t wait for local and national audiences to engage with the work of this exciting artist.”

Drawing inspiration from the longstanding traditions of mask-making and masquerade in the Caribbean and Nepal, Brixton-based artist Maya Gurung-Russell Campbell creates evocative landscapes that explore her dual heritage. Incorporating sound, moving image, oral history, poetry and analogue photography, her practice centres matrilineal mythologies and lived experience, whilst interrogating universal themes. 

Folklore Imaginary is a part-personal, part-cultural mythology, woven using oral histories and intergenerational memories of migration. It explores the fluidity of the artist’s transcultural identity. The liberation from having “one self” is toyed with through wearable avatars that utilise the traditional  techniques of ritual mask-making in Nepal.  Produced collaboratively with sound artist Cil, sitarist Tommy Khosla and multi instrumentalist Buster Woodruff-Bryant, the  audio-visual pieces Effigy for a Black Soldier and Protector of the Children sonically respond to both Eastern and Western folk tradition. 

Effigy for a Black Soldier uses a reworking of the folk song Wayfaring Stranger as a storytelling device to explore memories of the artist’s estranged father, who served in the British Army and had a strong Christian faith. This meditates on the complexities that come with being a black man in service of the British Army, suggesting themes of migration, longing for home and the lingering phantom of the British Empire on the diaspora. Protector of the Children alludes to the Nepali folklore figure of the Lahkey, who is said to be a man eating demon who protects children and townspeople, dwelling deep in the forests of Nepal. The work draws from the artist’s early encounter with the Lahkey mask when placed into her grandmother’s care at the age of four. Blending transcriptions of court documents recording the battle for custody between the artist’s grandmother and father, family photographs and a video-performance filmed during the artist’s residency at Space A in Kathmandu, Nepal, this is a deeply personal reflection on intergenerational memory. 

Folklore Imaginary is the artist’s first UK solo exhibition. The show and the accompanying publication are supported by UAL’s Mead Fellowship and 87 Gallery.

For further information please visit: www.87gallery.co.uk

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