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Friday 25 January 2013

Parallel Horizons Exhibition at The Stephen Lawrence Gallery

I'm ashamed to say I've lived in Greenwich for nearly six years and had no idea The Stephen Lawrence Gallery existed...what makes this extra tragic is that I walk passed it every day! And here's me thinking I am (was?) an observant person. Dear Oh Dear. 
Located in the grounds of the picturesque* University of Greenwich (*I have not copied that from their brochure, it genuinely IS BEAUTIFUL.) That's why I walk through the campus instead of getting a bus to the DLR station in the mornings and even late at night, just because it is such an incredible image to behold.
Which is also how I would describe this 'bamboo stall' what I know in Bengali as a Moorah. Every Bangladeshi home has at least one. The best ones are made from bamboo, but some come in plastic too. 
Saif Osmani ordered four from Bangladesh for his new exhibition which opened at The Stephen Lawrence Gallery on Monday. It's a celebration/representation of how bamboo is appropriated in different ways around the world and is partially the result of a residency he did in Taiwan exploring it. He's now curated it into a bigger piece of work with contributions from over 20 other artists.
In the exhibition you get the chance to see, touch and listen to bamboo.
In fact, you don't need to be there to sample the sounds, have a listen on this link.
Saif recorded his Taiwanese trip through photographs, every single one of which features bamboo from pots to steam your dim sum in, to street furniture. 
The focal point of the gallery is a towering bamboo structure, created specifically for the site.
It took three days to construct, was partly improvised and also inspired by the four Bangladeshi Moorahs that sit within it.
And here are the gentlemen who made it, Lee Dalby and Pablo Cattermole.
Lee is a basket maker by trade and grows his own willow in his back garden in London. He offered some cuttings to me so I could grow my own too but sadly as I have no garden or window sill I couldn't take him up on the offer. Though at some point I will and must add willow weaving to my craftography.
And here is is. being enjoyed by guests.
I especially loved Rebecca Lucraft's Nepalese bamboo brooches.There was so much natural bamboo on display so it was great to see the possibilities of adding colour.
It's a small gallery but there's enough bamboo to get you thinking about the material in new ways. 
As well as every day objects like fans and pots there are short films and photo projections of bamboo projects from all over the world.
I've never had any connection with bamboo before, it's never really entered my mind, but after visiting the exhibition I think I'll probably get more excited when I next recognise its use somewhere.
Here I am sporting my latest 'indigo' streaks with the amazing Lipi Begum who is a lecturer at The London College of Fashion. She's posing with the brochure which is filled will lovely images from the exhibition.  
Don't forget to pick one up if you go!

Parallel Horizons curated by Saif Osmani is showing at The Stephen Lawrence Gallery in Greenwich until February 28th 2013.

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