Review: Brown Girls Do It Too: Mama Told Me Not To Come – ‘The dynamic duo Poppy and Rubina dive into the complex realities of being a British South Asian woman’ – Soho Theatre, until 10 June

The critically acclaimed podcast ‘Brown Girls Do It Too’ is live at the Soho Theatre. The dynamic duo, Poppy and Rubina, are here to dive into the complex realities of being a British South Asian woman, from sex and relationships to identity and culture, this is a conversation which is breaking the silence in the South Asian community.

Dressed in typical 90s outfits, the duo sat on the vibrant set resembling a teen bedroom, which makes the show feel like genuine, passionate conversation between friends. As a British Pakistani myself, I am able to resonate with the topics, as they discuss their childhoods, families, exploring their identities, and navigating through relationships in adulthood. The show is a mixture of chit-chatting, impersonations, and skits (‘Coconut Crisis Hotline’ is a personal fave).

Poppy and Rubina began their podcast ‘Brown Girls Do It Too’ in 2019, as they felt there was a lack of brown women speaking about sex in the media, and the community in general. Anything related to sex, love or relationships is difficult for Asian women to speak about, which is damaging as it leads to a lack of sex education and awareness. The duo particularly focuses on how second-generation British Asians represent a fusion of cultures, which can be challenging to navigate. This emphasises the importance of creating a space for these conversations to occur, especially as British Asian culture continues to expand. It particularly stands out to me that the podcast aims to define what it means to be brown and asks if it is possible for us to fully be ourselves. This is an important question, and the podcast seeks to break down barriers that prevent brown women from expressing themselves fully.

The duo frequently mentions the ‘trolling’ which they receive, mainly from those within the community, and also refers to the culture of shame and judgement within the community.These conversations are truly impactful and empowering.

Throughout the show, they explore prominent, serious issues such as the casual misogyny in a strict Asian/Muslim household, racism and colourism, and the challenges of growing up in the 90s-00s as a brown girl surrounded by white/British culture. However, as serious as these issues are, Poppy and Rubina tackle these discussions with just the right amount of comedy and relatable stories. We also learn A LOT about the duo – from first orgasms, relationships and teen crushes, which definitely make us all feel like friends having a chat.

The show ends with the two women reading out letters to their mothers, expressing their feelings about their relationships and how these could differ if there are less harsh cultural expectations.

Overall, the show is a perfect blend of comedy and heartfelt conversations, which feels both liberating and comforting. I would definitely recommend this show whilst it runs until 10 June 2023.

Review by Ridha Sheikh

Ridha is a volunteer writer for Abundant Art. She is a recent History and Politics graduate from Queen Mary – University of London. Ridha is excited to explore and share her strong passion for London’s art scene.

Read Ridha’s latest review here Review: Beyond The Streets London – ‘Captures monumental moments from the world of graffiti, street art and more’- Saatchi Gallery, until 9 May – Abundant Art


Image by Mark Senior (c)

Tickets: https://sohotheatre.com/events/brown-girls-do-it-too-mama-told-me-not-to-come-2/

Brown Girls Do It Too (‘Best Podcast of the Year’ British Podcast Awards 2020, Asian Media 2021)

Please note: This show contains language that could be deemed offensive, such as swearing and adult references.

Performance BSL interpreted by Sharan Thind and Sandy Deo – Sat 10 Jun, 2.30pm

Review: The Eight Mountains (Le Otto Montagne) – ‘Friendship and shared love for the mountains’ – BFI, until 24 May

Le Otto Montagne presents the tale of two young boys, one a city boy and the other un montanaro (mountaineer), whose childhood friendship patiently observers the unfolding of their different life paths. Much more than a coming of age story however, Le Otto Montagne centres the broader struggle of finding one’s purpose in life, even if only for a moment. Tradition, curiosity, determination, resentment, imagination, these are the contexts that influence the zig-zagging of each of their paths. Sometimes they cross over and sometimes they diverge, but what provides the resilient thread to their adult friendship is their shared love for the mountains.

The majority of the film is shot in and around a small village in the Italian alpine region of Valle D’Aosta. We whiteness the two boys explore the luscious landscape, playing in the streams and going on long hikes. Their exchanging of local regional dialects adds to romanticisation of this place which experiences pace of life and values that contrast that of the northern Italian cities. Regardless of whether one is specifically familiar with these nuances between regional Italian accents and cultures, the beauty of the film’s scenery distinctly punctuates it with a desire to spend time in the vastness of the mountain landscape.

Yet, as the film develops, this idyllic gesturing of nature, its symbol as a nurturing safe space, is complicated by the characters’ illusions, aspirations, and acts of agency. As its backdrop, the mountains therefore provides the space for the film to explore the undulation of life’s highs and lows. Over the curvatures of the Alpine horizon, from mountain peaks to urban life, and across streams of emotions, Le Otto Montagne is certain to leave viewers with a self-reflective sensibility towards where they see their own next turn (svolta, the much nicer Italian word) to take them.

Review by Michela Giachino

Since studying History of Art at The University of Oxford Michela has continued to pursue her interests in art and culture. She particularly enjoys considering how contemporary and historical art forms are presented to the wider public through exhibitions and viewings at art institutions. Michela’s favourite mediums include photography, film, painting and drawing, and she is always excited to learn about new art.

Read Michela’s latest review here Review: Souls Grown Deep like Rivers: Black Artists from the American South- “Giving space to art as experience.” – Royal Academy, until 18 June – Abundant Art


Director-Felix Van Groeningen, Charlotte Vandermeersch

With Luca Marinelli, Alessandro Borghi

Italy 2022. 147min, Digital, Certificate 12A, English subtitles

A Picturehouse Entertainment release

For tickets and more information Buy cinema tickets for The Eight Mountains | BFI Southbank

Review: Souls Grown Deep like Rivers: Black Artists from the American South- “Giving space to art as experience.” – Royal Academy, until 18 June

The current exhibition at the RA is unique because it doesn’t centre any particular artistic movement or artist. Instead, the art it exhibits was produced by a selection of Black artists who are grouped together for not having participated in the 20th century historical event known as the Great Migration. While a large percentage of the Black communities in the deep South migrated to more northern states in the U.S between 1930 and 1970, the artists that the RA here chooses remained in the American South.

I am interested by this. Does the exhibition therefore consider a sort of counter-history, is it treating the historically tangential? If so, I envision it like this: if a historical event were a shape, then this exhibition considers the space around this shape – the ‘negative space’ of history.

Upon entering the exhibit one is immediately confronted with the use of a lot of scrap metal, assemblage sculpture, earthy pigments and materials, and craft-like techniques. Not having known what to expect, my first reaction was to compare these aesthetics to the Italian art movement, Arte Povera, and other similar aesthetics that pertained to the 1960s and 1970s, such as that we saw in Noah Purifoy’s 66 sigs of neon exhibition (1966) in Los Angeles. However, although the exhibition at hand includes work which was made during these same years, one of its features is that it includes art from across the 20th century and beginning of the 21st century. In fact, delving into how the exhibition embraces a broad time period uncovers how my initial comparisons completely miss the point.

The formal styles that I picked up on at first are informed by these artists’ choice to address the violent history of slavery, racial inequalities, and the social marginalisation of Black communities, while rooting these themes in their everyday experience of the deep South. Religion, music, and the African traditions with which these artists were actively reconnecting, are all interwoven into their often stark style. Referencing back to the broad time period of the exhibition, it becomes clear that at its crux it strives to demonstrate the cycles of oppression, resilience, family and tradition that these artists faced across time.

By bringing forward the ‘negative space’ of history, ‘Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers’ prompts one to consider how art history has failed to account for artistic expressions of experience that aren’t defined by novelty or fleetingness. In this instance, we are presented with reactions to race inequalities that can’t be expressed by a contained movement or ‘shape’ because of their very repeated and systemic nature. While we may know that individual historical periods are often used to delineate the story of art history, we don’t always realise what we are missing. The current exhibition at the RA does an excellent job to shed light on the expansive potential of thinking about art history across new planes of time and experience, waking us up from the pretty shapes we are used to literally as well as metaphorically.

Featured Image: Lonnie Holley, Keeping a Record of It (Harmful Music), 1986. Salvaged phonograph top, phonograph record, animal skull, 34.9 x 40 cm. Souls Grown Deep Foundation, Atlanta. © 2023 Lonnie Holley / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / DACS, London. Photo: Stephen Pitkin/Pitkin Studio

Review by Michela Giachino

Since studying History of Art at The University of Oxford Michela has continued to pursue her interests in art and culture. She particularly enjoys considering how contemporary and historical art forms are presented to the wider public through exhibitions and viewings at art institutions. Michela’s favourite mediums include photography, film, painting and drawing, and she is always excited to learn about new art.

Read Michela’s latest review here Review: Christine Sun Kim: Edges of Sign Language- ‘Canvases as multifaceted explorations’- Somerset House, until 21 May – Abundant Art


For more information and tickets Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers | Exhibition | Royal Academy of Arts

Drawing its title from the work of Langston Hughes, Souls Grown Deep like the Rivers brings together sculpture, paintings, reliefs, drawings, and quilts, most of which will be seen in the UK and Europe for the first time. It will also feature the celebrated quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend, Alabama and the neighbouring communities of Rehoboth and Alberta.

Artists include Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Ronald Lockett, Joe Minter, Hawkins Bolden, Bessie Harvey, Charles Williams, Mary T. Smith, Purvis Young, Mose Tolliver, Nellie Mae Rowe, Mary Lee Bendolph, Marlene Bennett Jones, Martha Jane Pettway, Loretta Pettway, and Henry and Georgia Speller.

Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in collaboration with Souls Grown Deep Foundation, Atlanta.

This exhibition contains images that some visitors might find upsetting. Please contact us for more information.


Review: Berthe Morisot: Shaping Impressionism, Dulwich Picture Gallery, until 10 September

Berthe Morisot: Shaping Impressionism, is a sensational display of dynamic brushwork, impasto surfaces, pastel colours, soft, sun-clad interiors, pensive expressions and intimate depictions of Morisot’s loved ones. Unconventional in their more personal perspective in comparison to Morisot’s male colleagues, Morisot’s scenes are more often than not domestic and indoors (since it was more difficult for Morisot to paint outdoors as a woman), depicting family such as her daughter, Julie, her niece, her husband and her sister.

Dulwich Picture Gallery’s curatorial stance for this exhibition, which has been based on new research, is focused on the way in which Morisot was influenced by, responded to and translated eighteenth-century French art, particularly that by Rococo artists Fragonard and Boucher, as well as British art by Reynolds, Gainsborough and Romney. The work of these artists have crept their way into 13 out of 43 of the exhibits, focussing on Morisot’s predecessors, particularly Fragonard reinforcing comparison.

The best rooms are the first and last, which display works almost entirely by Morisot, whilst in the middle of the exhibition the narrative veers towards the work of other artists from the previous century. Whilst Morisot was clearly responding to the Rococo era and eighteenth-century painting, re-working Rococo colours and motifs such as the reclining woman, her work is starkly different and an entirely new language altogether.

The world created by Morisot’s paintings was a reflection of her position as an upper middle-class woman with access to an informal art education (particularly from the landscape painter, Camille Corot) and the economic freedom to pay for childcare. As a result, Morisot flourished as a professional artist, exhibiting at the salons in Paris from 1860s onwards. However, Morisot did have to be strategic in the way in which she painted, working at dawn or in spaces where she would be less visible to the public, such as out on a boat away from the public gaze.

Morisot’s position as a woman within a male-dominated art world meant that her works often represent the peripheries of metropolitan Parisian life, capturing women indoors in their homes more often than outdoors, or alone with their thoughts in private spaces. Indeed, Morisot’s ability to communicate a mood of pensive introspection is profound, and beyond being sentimental, her work is breathtakingly alive with emotion and a quality of momentary intimacy.

Image: Berthe Morisot, Woman at her toilette,1875-80. Image courtesy of The Art Institute of Chicago, Stickney Fund.

Review by Lucy Evans

Lucy’s passion for the arts began with drawing and painting at a young age and developed later on into a love of landscape painting and a degree in Art History, with a focus on Modernism and gender. Lucy has grown to love literature and acting in particular, and her experiences acting at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival have been formative, convincing her that performance can be an essential tool for communication and connection, as well as of course being a valuable source of entertainment.

Lucy’s latest review here Review: Akram Khan’s Jungle Book Reimagined-Sadler’s Wells Until 15 April (abundantart.net)

Tickets and information: Berthe Morisot: Shaping Impressionism | Dulwich Picture Gallery


About Berthe Morisot
Berthe Marie Pauline Morisot (1841-1895) was a French painter and a founding member of Impressionism. In 1864, she exhibited for the first time in the highly esteemed Salon de Paris. Her work was selected for exhibition in six subsequent Salons until, in 1874, she joined the “rejected” Impressionists in the first of their own exhibitions, which included Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley. Morisot went on to participate prominently in almost all of the following eight Impressionist exhibitions between 1874 and 1886; she missed one in 1878 when she gave birth to her daughter Julie who she had with her husband Eugène Manet, the brother of her friend and colleague Édouard Manet. In 1894, she was described by influential French art critic Gustave Geffroy as one of “les trois grandes dames” of Impressionism alongside Marie Bracquemond and Mary Cassatt.

Musée Marmottan Monet
The Musée Marmottan Monet is housed in a magnificent townhouse once owned by writer and art collector Paul Marmottan. In addition to its collection of pre-modern paintings, sculptures and illuminations, it boasts the world’s leading collections of works by Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot. This outstanding Impressionist treasure is further enriched by works from Delacroix, Boudin, Manet, Degas, Caillebotte, Sisley, Pissarro, Gauguin and Rodin, with Chagall representing the modernist period. http://www.marmottan.fr

Review: RESOLVE Collective: them’s the breaks-Barbican Curve Gallery, until 16 July

This Spring sees RESOLVE Collective take over Barbican Curve Gallery with their unconventional exhibition, them’s the breaks

The exhibition is built on-site, with one side staging sculptures formed using materials salvaged from other institutions: large plastic signage from Camden Art Centre, cork bricks from the Royal Academy, sheets of mesh from Barbican itself. The other side of the space details the behind-the-scenes: sketches of parts to be built, annotated production schedules, messages left on scraps of wood. Here, RESOLVE completely unpick the idea of what an exhibition is.

RESOLVE Collective is an interdisciplinary studio, making work at the intersection of architecture, technology, art and social change. Them’s the breaks continues their exploration of these themes. Part exhibition, part community hub – throughout the opening the space will be activated by a series of public events developed in collaboration with local organisations and creatives. 

As a collective, RESOLVE aims to provide a platform for the production of new knowledge and ideas through design, they say “design carries more than aesthetic value; it is also a mechanism for political and socio-economic change”. Them’s the breaks certainly does this. It is a thought-provoking exploration of the role of the institution with our communities. 

Further, them’s the breaks encourages the audience to reconsider the use and malleability of materials. One of the strengths of the exhibit is that it provides visitors with an opportunity to engage with artworks in a way that is not always possible in traditional galleries – viewers are encouraged to touch, scale and interact with the works.

Them’s the breaks is a prime example of how art can be used to create conversations about real-world issues, thereby triggering much needed social change. RESOLVE Collective present complex issues in a way that is both engaging and inspiring, using the Barbican’s unique brutalist space to its fullest potential.

Them’s the breaks by RESOLVE Collective is showing at Barbican Curve Gallery until 16th July 2023. Tickets are free and more information is available here.

Image: RESOLVE Collective:them’s the breaks, Installation view, The Curve, Barbican, 2023© Adiam Yemane

Review by Amy Melling 

Amy is a Curator and Creative Producer whose practice is centred around community-led arts projects. Her current research is focused on curatorial methods for exhibiting artworks outside. Amy has a keen interest in the arts and recently completed an MA in Curating and Collections at Chelsea College of Arts, UAL.

Read Amy’s latest review here Review: Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons – ‘A gallery turned into an apocalyptic wasteland’-Hayward Gallery, until 7 May – Abundant Art


An inter-disciplinary design studio with its roots in South London and extended across the UK, RESOLVE Collective use their commissions to platform local organisations and spark social change. Taking over The Curve, a series of public events, developed in collaboration with a network of exciting artists, activists, writers, DJs, and designers, occupy this transformed gallery space. As part of the display, they’ll use technology usually found in structural engineering to visualise what’s happening inside the Barbican’s concrete structure: using the cracks that naturally occur in a building as prompts for how we consider the structural decline of our systems, institutions, and buildings.

Review: Akram Khan’s Jungle Book reimagined-Sadler’s Wells until 15 April

Disney’s Jungle Book of my childhood: jovial, comic and full of dancing bears eating prickly pears, remains unrecognisable in Akram Khan’s dark re-telling of Rudyard Kipling’s tale. The focus is now on climate change and impending doom, whilst Mowgli’s fate feels closer to fact than fiction. Set in a post-apocalyptic city, submerged under water, the narrative essentially resembles the plight of a climate refugee fleeing her indigenous land and escaping rising sea levels. Mowgli is separated from her family when she falls from the raft she is sharing with her parents, but is then brought to the surface on the nose of a blue whale – a moment which contributes to one of a number of surreal and creative elements in an otherwise entirely contemporary and urgent story of climate-induced displacement and catastrophe.

This dance-theatre retelling of The Jungle Book combines numerous story-telling devices in order to deliver a powerfully emotive narrative. Dance, music, animation and voiceover come together to deliver an exciting and unique production, unparalleled in the London theatre scene at the moment. This pioneering quality is mostly delivered by YeastCulture’s incredibly beautiful animation, which adds layers to the story  (both literally and metaphorically) without distracting from the choreography. A favourite moment features the elephants striding steadily across the front of the stage like an updated, contemporary moment from the Lion King. Their immense scale is effectively communicated when their digital selves interact with the real life performers on stage.

The weaker part of the production is the voiceover, which accompanies the animalistic dance-like movements. It felt confusing trying to work out, if the voices are in sync with the individuals’ movements, or whether trying to match the two up wasn’t the point, let alone which voice went with which performer, as every character was wore the same. This means that the voices actually distract from the beautiful dance. When the dancers are moving, the overall effect is profound and solemn, but when they are animated by sound, they are suddenly reduced to seemingly simpler characters with less emotive potential than when they are mute as physically expressive dancers. The storyline in the second half also becomes quite complicated and hard to follow, whilst the constantly appearing golden box carried by Mowgli remains elusive, other than being a reference to her past life with her family.

Jocelyn Pook’s music is fascinatingly eclectic and heady, adding suspense, atmosphere and emotion to the story. The tone of the music is melancholy, mesmerising and hypnotic, with a general mood evocative of chanting. The most beautiful and memorable piece for me was, ‘Where we Came From’, which combines traditional Indian singing with kyrie, eléison chants.

YeastCulture’s animation is one of the most captivating and exciting elements of the production. Transparent screens allow line drawings to come to life as animals, or rain to dash across the sky. Chil, the Kite, soars across the space and flashbacks of Mowgli with her mother simultaneously play out alongside Mowgli’s current situation amongst the animals in the concrete jungle of a dystopian city. These flashbacks add poignancy to the tragedy of Mowgli’s story and bring attention to the reality of separation at the heart of refugee struggles and the climate crisis. Another clever stage device is the use of props, as Kaa, the snake, was made up of a number of cardboard boxes, animated into a sinuous line by the dancers, and a mesmerising, lit-up sheet created a rippling body of shimmering water in one of the closing scenes.

The narrative crux of Akram Khan’s Jungle Book lies in the relationship between humans and the natural world. Mowgli’s love for the animals is anomalous as the only other human character, the ostracised hunter who has been rejected by his own kind, eventually turns destructive and kills Chil, the bird who has been faithfully watching over Mowgli.

At the heart of this production is a poignant mix of beauty and destruction, tenderness and violence. It examines the tension between survival and death and animal and human livelihoods.  Khan’s message concerns the relationship between human and nature, with Mowgli representing hope and breaking the destructive trend of human destruction of the planet. Through a unique co-creation of mediums, the urgency of climate change is communicated in this emotionally engaging performance.

Image: Akram Khan’s Jungle Book reimagined ©Ambra Vernuccio

Review by Lucy Evans 

Lucy’s passion for the arts began with drawing and painting at a young age and developed later on into a love of landscape painting and a degree in Art History, with a focus on Modernism and gender. Lucy has grown to love literature and acting in particular, and her experiences acting at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival have been formative, convincing her that performance can be an essential tool for communication and connection, as well as of course being a valuable source of entertainment.

Lucy’s latest review here Akedah-‘Two sisters pushing each other to the edge’ – Hampstead Theatre until 18th March (abundantart.net)

 Tickets and information –   https://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/akram-khan-company-jungle-book-reimagined/




Review: Christine Sun Kim: Edges of Sign Language- ‘Canvases as multifaceted explorations’- Somerset House, until 21 May

The current exhibition at Somerset House, ‘Christine Sun Kim: Edges of Sign Language’, displays how Christine’s contemporary practice interrogates the roles of space, sound, language and shape in our society. In a small room, one finds different shaped unpainted canvases hung on the walls. They are rounded, smooth, and almost moving which, for their uniqueness, immediately suggest some kind of confrontation to the viewer.

Christine’s practice began with painting and later developed across other mediums, from drawing, video, installation and performances. While the oddly shaped blank canvases in ‘Edges of Sign Language’ reference painting, the exhibition works more like an installation or performance where the canvases perform many roles: they absorb the mood of the room, its surrounding sound, while also represent a lack of it, and evoke how communication can occur through shape and movement.

Christine’s work reflects her journey of creating representations of her relationship with sound and the environment, in ways that resonate with her. Now, she uses her practice to strongly confront societies values, placement, and adoption of sound, and brings viewers to consider the role different senses play in their life and beyond.

In her 2015 Ted Talk, Christine articulated how, when she was younger “as a deaf person living in a world of sound” it was as if she was “living in a foreign country, blindly following its rules, customs, behaviours and norms without ever questioning them.” It was only when she enrolled in an MFA in music and sound at Bard College in Hudson Valley that she confronted her younger self’s mentality and embraced her interest in the crucial role of sound in society. For example, she found similarities between music and ASL (American Sign Language), in the way that neither can be fully captured on paper, and that they are both highly sensitive to changes that can affect their whole meaning. From here she began to foreground sound and communication as the subjects of her work, for example, focusing on the representation of mundane concepts like “the sound of laziness” or “the sound of temperature rising” in new ways.

Today, her work couldn’t be louder. Often combining it with engaging activities, activism, and public speaking, she explores how sound exists as a social currency in our world in ways that that often go unnoticed. Perhaps the apparent minimalist aesthetic of the work on display at Somerset House plays on this by requiring the physical presence of different kinds of people and senses to be activated.

Many reactions may be had to the work but, fundamentally, it is Christine’s meaningful ability to make us think about the many relationships with sound that exist through visual means that is truly unique and striking.

All quotes from Christine Sun Kim’s Ted Talk ‘The enchanting music of sign language’ (2015). https://www.ted.com/talks/christine_sun_kim_the_enchanting_music_of_sign_language

Image: Christine Sun Kim’s All Day All Night, Photo credit Reinis Lismanis

Review by Michela Giachino

Since studying History of Art at The University of Oxford Michela has continued to pursue her interests in art and culture. She particularly enjoys considering how contemporary and historical art forms are presented to the wider public through exhibitions and viewings at art institutions. Michela’s favourite mediums include photography, film, painting and drawing, and she is always excited to learn about new art.

Read Michela’s latest review here Review: Gogosian-Rites of Passage-‘Passages as natural flux’-Britannia Street, London, until 29 April – Abundant Art


Edges of Sign Language is commissioned by Somerset House in collaboration with Goethe-Institut London as part of Hyper Functional, Ultra Healthy, a dynamic series that considers individual and collective health and wellbeing through a programme of newly commissioned artworks, films, workshops, and conversations.

For more information visit Christine Sun Kim: Edges of Sign Language | Somerset House





Review: Kim Noble: Lullaby for Scavengers – ‘the bitter comes before the sweet’ – Soho Theatre, until 8 April

Kim Noble’s Lullaby for Scavengers reminds me a lot of Lucretius, an ancient Roman philosopher and poet. He compared his poetry to medicine: when a child is sick, we give them a cup of harsh tasting medicine lined with honey around the rim. It fools the child into drinking the medicine and they feel better for it. Just like this, Lucretius teaches us about the way the universe works, but does so in poetry to soften scary, uncomfortable and inconvenient truths.

Lullaby for Scavengers is the opposite. Noble chucks some of humanity’s key experiences and vulnerabilities – loss, love, loneliness – right into the gutter. To invert Lucretius’s metaphor, the sweetness lies behind the excrement-lined rim.

As he first stumbles on stage, I’m unimpressed by how much Noble uses the f word. I’m not offended by it, I just don’t find it particularly funny by itself. We quickly meet his ex-lover (a taxidermied squirrel called Squirrel, who also swears a lot), and his daughters (live maggots he keeps in a jar). It seems comparable to that weird kid in the playground who ate worms just to gross people out.

But with time, Noble introduces significance to all his abjection and shows us more of himself. We see clips of him working as a cleaner in an office, where the workers do everything they can not to interact with him, despite his advances; he ties a full vacuum cleaner bag from an elderly client to a balloon, with the intention of sending his dust (and therefore him, technically) to space. He even seats one of his maggot daughters in an appropriately small cinema he’s built on stage, so she can learn about her father’s chosen trade of performance art.

Once we recognise the humanity in Noble’s acts of minor deviance, we find that same humanity in his acts of quite serious aberrance. In one video, he snogs (for lack of a better term) his own mother, and in perhaps his most egregious deed, he puts a live maggot inside his penis. Obviously, it is disgusting, but – in the context of Noble’s performance – equally entrancing.

At risk of coming to an obvious conclusion, it is Noble’s ability to offer us perversion and keep us willingly in our seats that is most impressive. Throughout Lullaby for Scavengers, he obsessively returns to maggots, squirrels and foxes: in other words, vermin. Quite crassly, he even incorporates the homeless man who sits outside his local supermarket into his show. But, by underscoring the tenderness in the animals and people who are all too often considered little more than nuisances or eyesores, he suggests that they are worth more attention than they are customarily given (or perhaps that we are just as debased as they are).

Noble exhibits a wide range of talents in Lullaby for Scavengers, but the one that is most amusing and astounding is tightrope walking. He spends just over an hour straddling the thin line between the absurd and the obscene – and occasionally losing balance – but by the force of some miracle never actually falls off. If you go, just remember that the bitter comes before the sweet.

Image Credit: Joanna Peterson

Review by Cian Kinsella 

Cian is a Classics teacher and part-time pub quizmaster living in London who is primarily interested in music but is also interested in theatre, literature, and visual arts. He is particularly intrigued by the relationship between art, criticism, and the capital forces always at play. Furthermore, he believes that subjectivity – which is ultimately at the heart of all artistic and cultural criticism – should not be concealed, but probed and perhaps even celebrated. Who decides what we like? How do they construct widely held beliefs about what is good? These are two of the questions Cian looks to address.

Cian’s latest feature on Abundant Art Review: Phaedra-a new play by Simon Stone after Euripides, Seneca and Racine-National Theatre until 8 April (abundantart.net)


Soho Theatre in association with John Mackay present this CAMPO production until 8 April. 

Cult comedic performance artist Kim Noble lived in a tree, down a sewer, under an insurance office desk and in an unsuspecting client’s attic. Now he returns to Soho Theatre with his critically acclaimed show.

Tickets and information: Kim Noble: Lullaby for Scavengers – Soho Theatre

The original soundtrack to Lullaby for Scavengers by Stephen & David Dewaele (aka Soulwax / 2manydjs) is now available on a limited edition cassette (with download code) via their DEEWEE record label. You can add it to your basket at checkout and copies can be collected at Soho Theatre, as a UK exclusive, during the run of Kim’s show. Price £11


Review: The Ugly Duchess: Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance- The National Gallery, until 11 June

In Room 46 on the second floor of the National Gallery, this tucked-in pocket within the vast treasures and picture-scapes of the Gallery hosts a changing season of exhibitions. These of which submit to a focus on smaller and less acknowledged artworks. The Ugly Duchess, Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance as an exhibition is no exception with Massys’ ‘The Ugly Duchess’ taking a much-deserved centre stage, and this time for all the right reasons.

Quinten Massys’ An Old Woman (‘The Ugly Duchess’) [c.1513] is utterly arresting, we are drawn to every detailed line. The costume and gesture are for all intended purposes to seduce a man. Yet she is portrayed to falter at every turn, the headdress is one for the 15th century, which defines her as too old-fashioned. It yields as a pleading, as an overbearing decoration of female vanity, – her rosebud, is drooping. Grey hair, sagging and wart-ridden skin, with a low-cut dress, we are meant to laugh at the prospect of her being a maiden, sully and read her to filth for her lust is a joke, for she is unable to refrain from her sexuality, – a sexuality which is but her own.

The room exhibits Massys’ contemporaries including Jan Gossaert’s An Elderly Couple [c.1520] which dually is an uncompromising image of old age: honest, bare and neither chews the fat of the sitters’ preclusions about their gloried appearance. Yet there is no bite, the man remains on the proper right, the woman’s gaze is downward, and she is dressed modestly with a covered chest, unlike An Old Woman who shares none of these attributes and comfortably takes the seated position on the right. The old woman is in the right, in the subject, but remains one favoured by none, even in fable and fiction. The other side of this painted pair, Quinten Massys’ An Old Man [c.1513], is conventional. The old man is sober, his salutation is moving into rebuke, for this is love unrequited. His ageing is a maturing of the soul, rather than one of spectacle, grievance, and ridicule. With even Massys’ study of An Old Man [1513], a work on paper laid over the canvas, shown beside the final rendering is viewed as also commercially appealing. Invariably showing this man’s temperance pervades, all times, renderings, and versions. The misogyny is rampant, not just in the world of the 16th-century character head, but still holds focus in its relatability today.

The Ugly Duchess is a legacy of a misunderstood image, mainly due to its relationship to the inspiration for the infamous duchess in Alice in Wonderland.  The painting is recognised and taunted over, but the date, context, and even the artist are unknown by most. Massys was a pioneer for satirical painting, and An Old Woman is arguably his greatest accomplishment. This painting and the other drawings/depictions within the exhibition set the scene for how novel, lively, and truly unserious the artistic exchanges of the 16th century were at times. As much as this work speaks to only a cruel joke it is also as subversive and disobedient against the conventions of the day. Under Massys’ instruction, the classically told tale of portraiture is made reactionary, a true instigator of parody of character heads and double portraiture. The pretty is forever restricted by societal norms and its beauty standards are one frame single-minded. White to quote, Umberto Eco, ‘ugliness is infinite like God.’

Massys is in deep contact with Leonardo da Vinci’s intrigue with the grotesque, with da Vinci’s drawing A Grotesque Old Woman, [also on display], as the chalked-in motif plucked and ran with, as what An Old Woman is based upon. Leonardo’s vernacular pervades Massys work, in fanciful exploration and experimentation. In da Vinci’s Seven Grotesque Profiles [1520-1600], the carnation in the bosom finds a home in the rosebud between the fingertips of Massys’ An Old Woman.

Also exhibited is Israel van Meckenem’s The Unequal Couple, which requires nothing but close attention, exercising the value of the relationship between the older woman and the younger man as purely transactional. The older woman is made fun of, as a lesser with complexions sickly, and a despondent smile. As ultimately the other. She is centred only as the subject of entertainment, as an image to amuse the court.

Other conversations do prevail with the South German Artist’s work, A Seated Old Woman [c.1520-25], which triggers the notions of the classical nude, refuting a defiant figure, instead, she is shown frail, fallen, and weak. Her ribcage holds the visible centre of the sculpture. This is a vanitas, a study of the passing of time and what will become of us all. The lustful woman in old age finds an equal counterpart in the engraving of Albrecht Durer’s A witch Riding Backwards In A goat [c1550], which depicts an old woman as a hag, as truly sexually fierce, a then contemporaries’ first. The hag is dangerous, unapologetic, and unchecked.

This is the second of four exhibitions for the National Gallery’s spring season, the former being the ongoing Nalini Malani: My Reality is Different, the third being upcoming After Impressionism: Inventing Modern Art, and finally in late Spring Saint Francis of Assisi. This rich selection is only the beginning of all that is leading up to the bicentenary of the National Gallery next year.

This reckoned-with and now reignited gem, Massys’ An Old Woman, seated centre first with its contemporaries and influences, are here for our viewing pleasure right until the exhibition close on the 11th of June 2023.

Image: An Old Woman (‘The Ugly Duchess’) about 1513, Quinten Massys (1465/6 – 1530), Oil on oak 62.4 x 45.5 cm, The National Gallery, London

Review by Devika Pararasasinghe

Devika is currently living and working in London, by trade an artist and snake oil salesperson. Devika graduated in September 2022 with a research MFA at Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford.

Devika’s latest review Review: Alice Neel: Hot Off The Griddle-Barbican Art Gallery until 21 May (abundantart.net)


Emma Capron, Associate Curator (Renaissance Painting) at the National Gallery, says: “The Ugly Duchess’ is an iconic image with a strong contemporary resonance. She has captivated generations of artists and visitors to the National Gallery. We are thrilled to unravel this work and reunite it for the first time ever with the grotesque drawings after Leonardo da Vinci that inspired it.”

For more information visit The Ugly Duchess: Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance | Exhibitions | National Gallery, London




Review: Gogosian-Rites of Passage-‘Passages as natural flux’-Britannia Street, London, until 29 April

Gagosian London Presents Group Exhibition of Work by Contemporary Artists with a Shared
History of Migration


Curated by the British-Nigerian writer and curator, Péjú Oshin, 19 contemporary artists are brought together for Gogosian’s new exhibition at its Britannia Street gallery entitled Rites of Passage. The artists chosen, share a history of migration but, instead of implying any kind of sweeping political stance on this fact, the title of the exhibition sets the tone for unique insight into the variety of situations, perspectives and experiences which have necessarily brought the artists to create the art displayed – Rites of Passage. Rather, the contemporary political relevance emerges in the manner in which, through themes of ritual, spirituality, fantasy, family and history, the artists explore the meaning of postcolonial Black identity in the present. The African diaspora experience and how it manifests today becomes the crux of the exhibition that lets it stand strong in its present London location.

The work of three artists in particular stood out to me. Alexandria Smith’s A time for those that remained (2023) absorbed me for its figurative uniqueness. It is a mixed media on a three-dimensional layered wood assemblage which effectively captures the theme of embodied memory. The two central figures are ambiguous yet joyful, while a dark cloud literally clouds their faces, their identities. The arch shape of the work and the structure of the composition are perhaps references to the common manner of depicting historical and religious portraits in the Western cannon. The layers of Smith’s work, both literally and symbolically, lend themselves to underscoring the beautiful complexity of understanding identities in today’s world.

The photographs by the artist Àsìkò were instantly recognisable as they are part of the exhibition promotion. Perhaps surprising and confusing at first for their apparent drama, the artist draws on various masquerade traditions belonging to the Yoruba culture and assembles them to suggest how their representations affects contemporary diasporic identities. Against striking landscapes, the adorned figures are tall and overbearing, intentionally placing the viewer on the spot in ways that few other works on display do so boldly.

Nengi Omuku’s large-scale painting, Eden (2022) depicts an ethereal scene in which figures are interlaced into a vast landscape that extends into the distance. Figural but abstract in its execution, this combination immediately conveys a sense of calm. An important quality to the painting is Omuku’s cleaver use of mediums that emanate light and connect her to her country of birth: she adopts a Fauvist oil paint palette on strips of sanyan, a traditional Nigerian fabric, that she weaves together to create her large canvas. The textural weave underpins the natural fluidity of the work and references a collective experience of joy of place that can’t be missed.

Due to its everlasting nature, the theme of migration and identity has long been the subject of artistic practices. The theorist T. J. Demos argued that the diasporic art of the 80s was based on a feeling of essential sadness and loss, while the nomadic art practices of the 90s embraced ideas of dislocation to re-frame the idea of a sole lost home.

By not being overly narrated, the current exhibition at the Gogosian allows the art on display to speak for itself and make one consider what this decade’s relationship with these themes could provide. Personally, I feel that different to an embrace, the work on display acknowledges the natural flux inherent in the human experience in a refreshingly positive light. The proud individuality of such ‘Passages’ prompts the viewer to reconsider their own role, position, or agency in the process.

Image: ÀSÌKÒ Pillars at the Port, 2022, giclée print on baryta paper 63 x 42 1/8 in, 160 x 107 cm, edition of 5 + 2 AP, © Àsìkò Courtesy the artist

Review by Michela Giachino

Since studying History of Art at The University of Oxford Michela has continued to pursue her interests in art and culture. She particularly enjoys considering how contemporary and historical art forms are presented to the wider public through exhibitions and viewings at art institutions. Michela’s favourite mediums include photography, film, painting and drawing, and she is always excited to learn about new art.

Read Michela’s latest review here Review: Turn It Out with Tiler Peck & Friends- ‘Colourful and light-hearted, classical and emotive, vibrant and experimental’-Sadler’s Wells 9-11 March – Abundant Art


Rites of Passage explores the idea of “liminal space,” a coinage of anthropologist Arnold van Gennep (1873–1957). In his 1909 book, after which the exhibition is titled, Van Gennep was among the first to observe that the transitional events of birth, puberty, marriage, and death are marked by ceremonies with a ritual function that transcends cultural boundaries.

Featured artists: Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Àsìkò, Phoebe Boswell, Adelaide Damoah, Femi Dawkins, Victor Ehikhamenor, Mary Evans, Ayesha Feisal, Enam Gbewonyo, Elsa James, Julianknxx, Sahara Longe, Manyaku Mashilo, Emily Moore, Nengi Omuku, Patrick Quarm, Alexandria Smith, Sharon Walters, and Michaela Yearwood Dan

Opening reception: Thursday, March 16, 6–8pm
March 16–April 29, 2023
6–24 Britannia Street, London

For more information –Rites of Passage, Britannia Street, London, March 16–April 29, 2023 | Gagosian