The fourth iteration of the Delphian Open Call occurred during the uncertain chaos that was (and is) the Covid 19 pandemic. During this period, everything was alien and artists and galleries were having to find innovative ways of doing things. The online space became all the more invaluable once physical spaces had to close, and the true power of social media became apparent.
After having to host the 2020 Open Call show online, we were thrilled to be able to host the 2021 show in a physical location - provided kindly by Unit 1 Gallery & Workshop in West London. The overall winner of this year’s Open Call is the excellent Alexis Soul-Gray, whom we are very happy to present in our Covent Garden space with her solo show Love with No Place to Go.
A pendulum movement, darting from one image to the next, searching but not finding, never resting for long enough to fully realise my potential because the making is wrapped up in pain and deep felt anxiety that still resides inside my body. Works look as if they may belong to another artist, flighty, uneasy speculation about what on earth I am doing this for.
My mother used to call me a butterfly because I couldn’t rest for very long, I had to keep moving from one thing to the next and she is right, particularly with regards to these works that are so driven like most of my practice by the excruciating loss of her and the total devastation of the family/what we called home that disappeared overnight, flung out like waifs and strays. It was Christmas, it was dark, I remember rain on car windows, Umbrella by Rihanna and sex with a man who never fully loved me back. Loss came from everywhere and for years. Everything fell apart.
I only have one photograph of her, on my fridge. It’s torn, not a framed image on a mantlepiece. I cannot fully look at her face for long. It is unresolved. I am searching for her, for the love I cannot put anywhere in the faces I find. The women, unknown, unnamed, allow for reinterpretation… I can play with them, name them, put them into a game.
Like imaginary friends: maybe I am building a theatre of some kind.
The pandemic was like a trigger, it lit up the end of this trauma inside me, took me into a dark place for a while but resulted in a strange energy, a determination I had not felt for a very long time. It allowed me to make more work in 18 months than I had since she died, 14 years of not being able to, not believing I could, removed by this universal interruption.
Death was this incomprehensible number, read out everyday like the shipping forecast, heard but not entirely comprehended. From tragedy to a statistic, names and faces lost, grief a symptom of the situation. Perhaps that what did it, validated by all of this grief I could unfurl my own a little. It gave me permission.