Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane – “creates a sense of wonder and renewed appreciation for the art of storytelling”, National Theatre, until 25 Nov

Based on Neil Gaiman’s novel, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”, is a captivating, fantastical performance. Adapted by Joel Horwood, this is a story about magic, memory and mystery; it explores the past and dives into a realm where reality and magic coexist.

The story centres around an unnamed man who returns to his childhood home in rural England for his father’s funeral. He drives to the nearby Hempstock Farm, where he once played as a child. There, he meets with the older Mrs Hempstock, and is transported to the past, where he rediscovers his mystical adventures with Lettie Hempstock, the young girl who once lived there. The Hempstock women (Lettie, her mother and grandmother), present an air of mystery, warmth and wisdom, as they come together to confront a supernatural force from invading the lives of the boy and his family.

The enchanting set design transforms the stage into an otherworldly landscape, capturing the essence of the novel’s themes. The visual and sound effects are extraordinary and create a phenomenal theatrical experience, seamlessly transitioning between the real and supernatural. Creatures and forces come to life and immerse the audience into the story.

The cast delivers a stellar performance, each character has their own unique personality and relationship with the boy, which adds layers to the story. Whilst the play explores the boy’s childhood curiosities, and the world of fantasy, there are deeper emotions such as grief, trauma and abuse, which we witness through the boy’s journey. However, what is most striking, is the dynamic between the two young characters – Lettie Hempstock (Millie Hikasa) and the ‘Boy’ (Keir Ogilvy), which develops throughout the play. Their friendship is touching, as we watch their connection flourish while they lend support to each other.

“The Ocean at the End of the Lane” stage adaptation is a spellbinding journey that captures the essence of Neil Gaiman’s novel while offering a unique and unforgettable theatrical experience. It’s a testament to the magic of storytelling, the power of live theatre, and the enduring appeal of a well-crafted tale. Whether you’re a fan of the book or new to the story, this production is a must-see, and it will leave you with a sense of wonder and renewed appreciation for the art of storytelling.

Until 25 November 2023 – get tickets here: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/ocean-at-the-end-of-the-lane/

Featured image: Millie Hikasa (Lettie) and Keir Ogilvy (Boy) in The Ocean at the End of the Lane.-c.-Brinkhoff Moegenburg

Reviewed by Ridha Sheikh

Ridha is a volunteer writer for Abundant Art. She is currently studying a Masters in International Public Policy at Queen Mary’s University of London. Ridha has a strong passion for art and is excited to explore London’s art scene.

Ridha’s latest review here The Effect – Are our feelings determined by our hearts or are they simply a matter of chemicals in the brain? (abundantart.net)


Review: Petrichor by Mat Collishaw “forges a blossoming relationship between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and nature”-Shirley Sherwood Gallery, Kew Gardens – until 7 April 2024

Petrichor by Mat Collishaw is a Vanitas made not real. An exhibition that endeavours to make falsehoods to forge a blossoming relationship between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and nature. The supposed brethren of AI and nature converse over a multitude of diverse and engaging mediums, from video to installation, simulation, NFTs, and sculpture.

We are first brought to light with the 3D simulations of Albrecht Dűrer’s botanical drawings. Dűrer, a German 16th-century artist was a true radical of his time, and who invariably took great pride in the humble documentation of Botanics. Albrecht Dűrer was daring in a time when eyes were drawn to the majestic portraits of curated opulence and new exoticisms, with his sincere interest being geared towards the most supposedly insignificant plants.

Collishaw’s subtle 3D simulation attempts to give the breath of viable life to Durer’s drawings. Columbine [2018] and Whispering Weeds [2011] sway gently in the breeze on LCD screens as digital works. Single-minded these once humbly drawn plants are given their dues for their persistent presence despite their lack of cultivation. AI is the beholden here, as nature’s best transcriber, yet no final wonder is sought or deemed found, – after all, none of it is alive.

A growth upon a hunk of mistreated soil grows a muse. The petals seem fleshy and obtuse, with scars and unmistakable tears on their skin. These sculpture works are petalled muses encased in glass as if to prevent the escape of a potentially visceral odour. The Venal Muse [2012] does not go amiss in the decay process being explored. Going beyond the wilt of the rose, the sentimental pull of the flora is eradicated in favour of pistil and stamen. The vanitas tradition is roped in to take centre stage in the performance of the flora, corpulent and almost mid-metamorphosis. These so-called muses are stuck in the staggered still of their new transformation. Will they ever be able to break glass and thereby their destined form?

A castaway mediation on nature, and our self-destructive relationship with our World: Even to the End [2023], is a nine-minute film, journeying through our planet’s current relationship with its ecology. This fabricated nature is under Collishaw’s hand and draws from dawn to dusk, as we voyage from the glass box germinal set upon a vast ocean to the sprawling jungle, where we are laid out to lavish, all the way to the destination of the end of the landscape. This desolate landscape transversed is unsalvageable and unliveable for all and any life forms. An invariable wasteland, – we are left with an empty expression of the current natural world, a message that feels somewhat ambivalent about what is to come.

Hybridisation aims to find new ground with Alluvion [2023] for pulling magic realism and AI together. That Incomprehensible Clarification, [2023] is an oil painting and is one part of the Alluvion series, and like the other parts is made from still-life paintings and images of insects and butterflies being fed into an AI application. What is then regurgitated and digested out is returned to familiar ground, by the resulting stretched-out flora evolution painted in a Dutch Masters-styled font. An emboldened replica made the shoe fit for the contemporary audience.

This magic realism and AI continue to stay pulled together, with the parallels of the NFT boom in 2021 with the Tulip fever of 1667, cementing the backdrop of the work Heterosis [2023]. This hybrid tulip collection is a series of non-fungible tokens [NFTs] which use genetic algorithms and blockchain technology, to the desired effect of varying bloom patterns scaling in exoticisms and personal intrigue. The collection of NFTs is user-dispensed by dealers, collectors, or collaborating artists depending on your chosen definition, each with its own apparent catered algorithm and genetic code. We the audience decide when we become masters in the style of our craft.

In this exhibition, we are directed to move swiftly on to a new exposure. Here there is no fallen tree as Albion [2017], is a forever oak tree. A growth never gone asunder, light assumes no darkness here, as this apparent tree of life casts no shadows. Peaking on almost life-size, this giant oak illusion and animation finds itself copy-rendered in a reflection pool. A trick on the gaze, a fevered game on actualisation, this full-body scanned oak tree disappears when confronted at the side profile. This imposing oak of Sherwood Forest rigged up with scaffolding is held up in perpetuity as a seeming reminder, – a ghost-like spirit of a supposed past Robin Hood England lost forever and only to be reminisced upon in old English folk tales.

A seething flicker prevails, The Centrifugal Soul [2016] is the final vision we are met with in Petrichor. This contemporary zoetrope, [a Victorian precursor to modern film-making] transpires the story of an ecological courtship, as these birds of paradise perform their mating rituals in an apparent evolutionarily-driven eternity. Boundless, these down bad paramours swirl and flutter viciously, utterly inescapable from our notice. A self-promotion in forever bloom.

This exhibition thoroughly reckons with itself, not to dare even to be alive. You may wish Petrichor would leave the frames of the hard drive but it becomes increasingly apparent as you linger that Petrichor is but a Vanitas not made real.

This flickering bounty of this exhibition, Petrichor is on display for your dared-upon viewership until the 7th of April 2024.

More information Mat Collishaw: Petrichor | Kew

Featured Image:  Albion-by-Mat-Collishaw.-c-RBG-Kew

Review by Devika Pararasasinghe

Devika lives and works in London, by trade as an artist and snake oil salesperson. Devika graduated last September with a research MFA at Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford.

Read Devika’s latest review here Review: Van Gogh House presents The Living House – celebrating 150 years since Van Gogh lived inLondon, artists Do Ho Suh, Eva Gold, Olivia Plender and Godai Sahara – until 17th Dec – Abundant Art

Review: Van Gogh House presents The Living House – celebrating 150 years since Van Gogh lived in London, artists Do Ho Suh, Eva Gold, Olivia Plender and Godai Sahara – until 17th Dec

150 years from when Vincent Van Gogh once lived in this house, at 87 Hackford Road, today sets the scene for The Living House. The Living House is a group exhibition, inviting artists Do Ho Suh, Godai Sahara, Eva Gold, and Olivia Plender to present their work. These four artists’ works are celebrated alongside and in relaxed dialogue with the objects and archives which detail Van Gogh’s former stay at this residence.

No assumptive speculation here, the house is a part of the journey of the exhibition for the viewer. The artists and their work, like the house itself, are in settled company with the ways of living. Breathing with the records of time lived and memories spent, these of which are truly active collaborators working in harmony with the exhibiting artists.

If you follow the home’s layout, the first work you will encounter is by Do Ho Suh. In the back parlour, Toilet Bowl – 01 Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA [2016] is a Cyanotype made to almost forensic detail in the documentation of Do Ho Suh’s translucent textile sculpture of the toilet. A royal blue flush, and an apparition of former consequence, this ghostly image of the toilet is a signal to a place where Van Gogh found solace and spent a lot of time smoking his pipe mirroring Do Ho Suh’s pre-occupation with his toilet from his former NYC apartment. No longer familiar, the Toilet Bowl does not seem to sit still. With no respite or resolution seeming to be found, a connection out of order, to a home out of the place you grew up in. This is a displacement in importance – it lives as art usually does, entwined with life, and the living. Do Ho Suh discloses with visual clarity our attachment to the melded dichotomy of universal and individual physical spaces, especially the ones we call home.

Godai Sahara’s contribution to The Living House is two-fold. A bedroom once inhabited by Anna, Van Gogh’s sister, is the space for the first encounter. Laden upon the covers, rest here, the two bronze spheres. The Healthier the People, the Poorer and Happier the Doctors [2023] titles these shiny and smooth forms, made as if from solidified liquid gold. Through the artist’s notice, the spheres are to be held and through being warmed they carry the wears of the people who have shared space with them. The objects will lose their sparkle and become tarnished. Impacted indefinitely, they cannot be remedied by simply being wiped clean. They occupy a duality; they are art objects and objects of use. The bronze spheres are a pair of non-identical twins that in relation to the known, resemble massage balls or round palm-sized fruits. They are known without being known, they are to be moved by bodies, depending on the needs, thus pushed by Sahara to be objects that through touch and rubbing allow contemplation.

A Gift from Someone Who Wishes to Cry but Hardly Ever Does, [2018 -2023] by Sahara is a collection of small sculptures made from a vegetable source cast into soaps. They have been dotted and arranged around the bathroom, on tiles, on the bath’s rim, by potted plants and inside the bathroom cabinet. Cast and moulded into a range of living and non-living things, from cigarette filters, pebbles, ear plugs, fish bladders, sea cucumbers and smartphone cameras. An invitation is set upon the sink encouraging visitors to wash their hands with a soap of their choice. This transaction between objects of use and sculptural art oscillates between hygiene and cleanliness to the feelings of the intimate. Again, the touch is brought in as a turn of transformation: a change to their form, and the feeling of these mediatory objects. Ultimately it is overt that this is a choice directed by the visitors who decide to occupy themselves in this living house and engage even if for only a few spare moments to instigate a change to both the objects and themselves.

Eva Gold’s offering to The Living House includes Scenes from a Dream (the Night Before Last) [2023], a capsule work of neighbours intertwined. Held in polystyrene fishing containers, the walls between neighbours are just that. It feels almost voyeuristic to face downwards on these modelling clay home-like interiors, at all the domesticities, the objects shared and all that may or may not transpire between these adjoining but private rooms.

It is paired upstairs with, Face Up [2023], a pencil drawing of a film still from The Humans (Steven Karam, 2021). This reproduction is a close-up of a fluorescent light on the ceiling mid-flicker. The drawing has been curated to be hung on a wall shared with the neighbouring property. This festers the continuing theme in Gold’s work for this exhibition of no sides chosen between neighbours. The walls are porous, and words even privately shared continue to pass leisurely through these dividing walls.

In the former Landlady Loyer’s quarters sits, Celia and Olivia Plender Raising the Fox [2018], a double portrait of the artist, Olivia Plender and her sister dressed in the wears of 19th-century women. The work places women to have a reclaimed power. They stand poised and are tall, Celia and Olivia have powers that are channelled through the mystic. They act as a stand-in for all the women who have powers despite the societal expectations that are in political contradiction to that fact. This is the case for all the women in Van Gogh’s life who have been minimised regarding their impact on Van Gogh’s legacy survival. A handmade quilt, titled To Our Friends, [2015] is the backdrop of the portrait, and lies in physical presence, on the second floor atop the bed Van Gogh once slept in. The quilt has handwritten stitching of quotes from ‘Urania’ a script which speaks for the disfranchised woman. This does everything and more to drive the point home of a history of women missing out.

The living is weaving throughout the house its intermingling ripe, and this is most certainly example-filled. The curtains which hang in Van Gogh’s former bedroom are by Artist Rachel Jones and were made during her residency at the Van Gogh House in 2021. The Paul Chalcroft paintings hung up in the back parlour were made in a brushstroke-to-brushstroke reproduction of Van Gogh’s paintings. As well as an avid fan of Van Gogh himself, Chalcroft was also the postmaster who discovered that Van Gogh did once occupy this former boarding house as a tenant.

Alive and inhabited, these works cast a lasting impact on the artists who live here on residency and the visitors who arrive for an hour to know Van Gogh better. We have no fear of losing the room, for each object, art or otherwise, every act of conservation and commission has allowed this house to live well, thriving in the reminiscence of Van Gogh’s once-upon-a-time permission to call this place home. On show till the 17th December, The Living House details direction, and distraction with equal measure, with all aspects of the home treated with such amorous care.

For more information visit The Living House — Van Gogh House London

Featured Image:

Install image of ‘Toilet Bowl-01, Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA’ 2016, by Do Ho Suh. Photograph by Jack Elliot Edwards, copyright of Van Gogh House London.

Review by Devika Pararasasinghe

Devika lives and works in London, by trade as an artist and snake oil salesperson. Devika graduated, last September with a research MFA at Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford.

Read Devika’s latest review here FACET – JUNE LAM stages a cut of his life through his poetic embrace of collage (abundantart.net)


Review: Qawwali Flamenco: a deeply emotional experience-Barbican, 15 Oct

Flamenco is like a prayer in solitude, an offering to the eternal in the human soul. It’s an appeal and a cry- a hymn of adoration to the divine. Qawwali is bliss and rapture. It’s a dance of sweet madness. A magical flowing stream of pure passion and devotion. Having evolved in different cultures in different times they are different, yet they have something in common. Flamenco guitarist Juan Gómez (a.k.a. “Chicuelo”) has been exploring the synergy between these two genres with acclaimed Qawwali singer Faiz Ali Faiz and his talented ensemble since 2005.

Flamenco is very much rooted in the Gitano (Roma gypsies) experience in Andalusia. It is an accepted fact today that the Gitano started making their way into Andalusia from the 17th century after traversing through the Middle East and Europe, having left their homeland in northwestern India some 800-1000 years ago. They brought with them their music and dance which evolved to what we know as flamenco today. Qawwali music developed in India as a synthesis of Sufi Islam and Hindu philosophies and evolved from devotional music. It is theorised that Qawwali originated from the group chanting of hymns from the Sama Veda. More recently the great polymath poet, musician, music composer and mystic Amir Khusrau is credited for creating the current structure and format of the Qawwali. Performances are energetic and can be frenzied. The songs mostly composed in ‘braj’ (sometimes in ‘farsi’) is an expression of mystic love for the divine. It is not inconceivable that the flamenco and the Qawwali may have shared a common root ancestor sometime in the distant past. Faiz Ali Faiz and his troupe teamed up with Flamenco guitarist Juan Gómez (a.k.a. “Chicuelo”) and flamenco vocalists to bring their ground-breaking Qawwali-Flamenco project to London audiences. On Sunday evening, 15th October, the audience at Barbican Hall were fortunate to witness their joint production.

The evening opened with the sonorous guitar of Chicuelo. The male flamenco vocalist Tomas de Perrate has that rough gritty texture to his voice which is the hallmark of flamenco vocalists. Melchora Ortega, the female vocalist provided a feisty vocal company to Tomas. The guitar and the opening flamenco vocals soon made way to Faiz and his fellow Qawals  who  opened the evening with  “dil jis se zinda hai” a homage to the prophet Mohammad. The high energy of the Qawwals soon send the audience into raptures. The evening progressed through to the evergreen Bulleh Shah kalam “ piya ghar aya“  before moving onto “ya mustafa nur ul huda” another song praising the prophet.  The evening concluded with a high voltage rendition of the kalam “Allah Hoo” a Qawwali which the late maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was famous for. Faiz Ali Faiz is a mystic singer with a voice that soars into higher realms.

Chicuelo’s mastery with the guitar is legendary. He perfectly blends his guitar riffs into Qawwali. He is the man straddling two worlds and connecting them with his soulful strings. Apart from the flamenco riffs he was completely comfortable and almost playful dancing with the rhythm of the great qawwal Faiz.

What can be said about the flamenco vocalists? They inhabit a world of a whole range of passions and emotions which envelop the listener. Even though I didn’t understand the language, I could clearly connect to a sacred thread running through those voices. The tabla player and the flamenco percussionists also had their rhythmic moments which added to the frenzied evening.

It was a high energy evening with the audience often joining in the rhythmic clapping that is so fundamental to a Qawwali performance.  The two genres are so different, yet the masterful artists blended them effortlessly.  It’s a tribute to their common origins. It’s a beautiful way of two separate cultures looking at each other and finding common ground. Above all the production is a brilliant musical fusion which sends the inner spirit dancing.

Review by Koushik Chatterjee

Read Koushik’s latest reviews

The Father and the Assassin- a cautionary tale on the dangers of extreme nationalism, National Theatre until 14 October (abundantart.net)


Featured image: courtesy Barbican press

Now on at Barbican Darbar Festival 2023 | Barbican



Review: Marina Abramović opens at the Royal Academy of Arts, first solo exhibition from a woman artist across their main galleries – until 1 Jan 2024

Fearless, profound, provocative: Royal Academy opens Marina Abramović, as their first ever solo exhibition from a woman artist.

In an unflinching exploration of the human experience, Marina Abramović invites visitors to fully explore Abramović’s artistic evolution and her unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of art and endurance. The exhibition showcases sculpture, video and installation, as well as some of the artist’s best known performance works restaged in the gallery by the ‘next generation of performance artists’, taught by Abramović herself.

The power of this retrospective exhibition lies not just in the works, but the artist’s dedication. Throughout Marina Abramović’s 50-year career, she has consistently pushed the boundaries of her mind and body, testing the limits of her own physical and mental endurance. Here, we see the development of this work – from the early groundbreak performance works, to her more recent contemplative works.

One of the most arresting moments in the exhibition is the recreation of ‘Imponderabilia’. The work was originally performed by the artist and her partner, Ulay in 1977, at the Gallery of Modern Art in Bologna, Italy, where it was shut down by the police for obscenity. The work sees two nude figures stand face to face in a doorway – the viewer must squeeze through the gap between them and in doing so, choose which figure to face. Imponderabilia invites the viewer to become part of the performance, they must invade the personal space of the artist and have their own personal space invaded at the same time.

The expansive exhibition is curated thematically, with each room exploring a different facet of Abramović’s practice. Archival video recordings of Abramović’s performances not only provide valuable context and insight, but further enhance the immersive aspect of the exhibition, allowing visitors to engage with the works in a multidimensional way. 

Marina Abramović at Royal Academy is a testament to Abramović’s enduring relevance – a reminder that art has the power to challenge, provoke and transform. This important exhibition is not to be missed.

Marina Abramović is showing at Royal Academy until 1st January 2024. Tickets are available here.

Featured Image :

Gallery view of the Marina Abramović exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, from 23 September 2023 – 1 January 2024, showing Imponderabilia, 1977/2023. Live performance by Rowena Gander and Kieram Corrin Mitchell, 60 minutes. Courtesy of the Marina Abramović Archives. © Marina Abramović. Photo © Royal Academy of Arts, London / David Parry

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 – Dear Earth at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre until 3 Sept (abundantart.net)


Marina Abramović Hon RA has earned worldwide acclaim as a performance artist. She has consistently tested the limits of her own physical and mental endurance in her work, subjecting herself to exhaustion, pain and even the possibility of death.

In her early work Rhythm 0, Abramović invited audiences to freely interact with her however they chose – famously resulting in a loaded gun being held to her head. Her later work The House with the Ocean View saw the artist live in a house constructed in a gallery for 12 days. Held in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, the performance invited audiences to witness and share in the simple act of living.

This major exhibition presents key moments from Abramović’s career through sculpture, video, installation and performance. Works such as The Artist is Present will be strikingly re-staged through archive footage while others (Imponderabilia, Nude with Skeleton, Luminosity and The House with the Ocean View), will be reperformed by the next generation of performance artists, trained in the Marina Abramović method.

Different works are reperformed during the run of the exhibition, so no two visits are the same. Find out more about performance timings here Performances in our Marina Abramović exhibition | Royal Academy of Arts

Publication: Marina Abramović-by Karen Archey, Adrian Heathfield, Svetlana Racanović, Andrea Tarsia and Devin Zuber.
Over the past half century, Marina Abramović has earned worldwide acclaim as a pioneer of performance art. This handsome new book records the first UK exhibition to include works from her entire career. Available at the RA Shop and online shop.royalacademy.org.uk

An article mentioning Abramovic we found interesting : A “female invasion” 250 years in the making | Blog | Royal Academy of Arts


Review: The Father and the Assassin- a cautionary tale on the dangers of extreme nationalism, National Theatre until 14 October

The father and the assassin is the story of a troubled young man whose aspiration for greatness by serving his motherland leads to bitter disillusionment. It’s also the story of the failure of Gandhi’s “secularism” and the emergence of India and Pakistan. Most  importantly, the narrative does not try to judge, rather tries to objectively portray the other side – one of the non-Gandhian voices  in India’s independence struggle. There is a contemporary message especially in the second half with an allusion to the current rise of populist nationalism across the world. 


The storytelling is riveting with powerful actors, innovative stage design and a script which manages to condense five decades of India’s pre-independence history into a tightly packed 2 hours of intense drama and emotion.  Paul Bazely grows into his role  as Gandhi as the story progresses and Hiran Abeysekara’s slightly unhinged tragi-comic portrayal of the murderer Godse makes for captivating drama.  Tony Jayawardena’s sullen and proud Savarkar adds to the tension and is the perfect counterpoint to Gandhi. 

The script by Anupama Chandrasekhar is racy while it spans several decades in the timeline and provides the foundation for an exhilarating production.

Shown in two halves the 2 hour play traces the life story of Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse. As a child his parents would dress him up as a girl to ward off the evil eye. He claimed to hear the Goddess’s voice inside his head and made divinations. As he steps into adulthood he is drawn into India’s freedom struggle and into Gandhi’s charisma. He considers himself a follower of Gandhi initially but slowly the spell breaks and leads to terrible disappointment. Nathuram’s destiny leads his family to Ratnagiri where another doyen of India’s independence movement Savarkar has been placed under house arrest by the British colonial rulers after serving 11 years in solitary confinement in the dreaded Cellular jail. Savarkar- once one of the senior most architects of India’s armed revolutionary movement is full of resentment and anger. He is envious of Gandhi and suspicious of his methods. Godse changes his mentor to Savarkar with his cultural revivalist ideology of Hindutwa and starts ridiculing  Gandhi’s non violent methods as cowardice. The final disenchantment comes with partition  and when Gandhi gets on a hunger strike to release government funds to Pakistan, Godse decides to murder him. 


While the play tries hard to objectively portray the ideological difference between Gandhian school  and the Hindutwa nationalist school that Godse represents,  there are some factual inaccuracies that gets in the way. One of them is in the way Gandhi’s views on full independence is portrayed. The fact is that he was initially in favour of  a dominion settlement for India and preserving the British empire but was swayed by the tide of popular opinion towards full independence. 


The writer chooses to  caricature  Savarkar’s Hindutwa as “one way of life for all Indians” while drawing parallels to Nazism. There are other views which sees the ideology as more nuanced only expecting allegiance to the motherland from the people while acknowledging differences in  custom, cultural or religious practice. Secondly the play carefully avoids any mention of  the Islamist movements in India – the demand for communal electorate with disproportionate representation, the Khilafat movement and the numerous communal and ethnic cleansing events instigated by them in Bengal, Kerala, Vidarbha and North west frontier province between 1905-1946. The Hindu nationalism was partly a reaction to these events and partly on Gandhi’s perceived silence and accommodation of Islamist radicals. Without this context it would be futile to understand the origins of Hindutwa and of Godse’s transformation. 


While the narrative steers clear of another Gandhi hagiography a bit more context on both Savarkar’s transformation as well as the Islamist Casus belli would have been more appropriate for a fuller understanding of what divided the father from the assassin and India from Pakistan . That should not detract from what is a brilliant immersive experience of a play which tells the story of the tragic final act in the struggle for self determination of an ancient civilisation and the competing ideologies that lay claim to its soul.


Image: Paul Bazely-Mohandas Gandhi-Hiran Abeysekera-Nathuram-Godse and The-Father and the Assassin company at the National Theatre 2023.-Credits-Marc Brenner

Review by Koushik Chatterjee

Tickets and information: The Father and the Assassin | National Theatre

Read the review of ‘The Effect’ also running at the National Theatre The Effect – Are our feelings determined by our hearts or are they simply a matter of chemicals in the brain? (abundantart.net)

Review: The Effect – “Are our feelings determined by our hearts or are they simply a matter of chemicals in the brain?” National Theatre, until 7 Oct

A story of two complex minds, ‘The Effect’, written by Lucy Prebble, is the story of two individuals, Tristan (played by Paapa Essiedu) and Connie (played by Taylor Russell) who are partaking in an anti-depressant drug trial. The play focuses on the power of the brain and emotions as the couple form an unbreakable connection through the trial. The question is whether these intense emotions and passion are a result of the drug agent or true overwhelming attraction?

The drug trial is monitored by Dr Lorna James (Michele Austin) and Dr Toby Sealey (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith), who also debate whether the surge of emotions and dopamine between the couple are a result of the drug or their infatuation. They each sit on opposite sides of the stage through the whole performance, as a reminder that Connie and Tristan’s experimental relationship is being constantly monitored. It also emphasises the idea that Lorna and Toby hold opposing views towards the drug agent.

Throughout the play, we are faced with the contrasting personalities of Lorna and Toby and Connie and Tristan. Tristan wears his heart on his sleeve, he confronts his attraction to Connie and is spontaneous in character. Whereas Connie is more reserved and logical, tending to overanalyse her emotions. She is afraid to admit her love and attraction to Tristan, until her mind is overpowered by the intensity of the emotions she feels. She is quick to assume that her feelings are a side-effect of the drug, but Tristan is certain that it is real. Similarly, the doctors Lorna and Toby share conflicting views. We learn that Lorna struggles with depression herself yet refuses to take medication, whereas Toby is a firm believer in medicating the mind. Prebble has brilliantly explored the complexity of the brain; the play revolves around heightened senses – of touch, breath and the mind.

Directed by Jamie Lloyd, the stage is minimally set, and the pair are dressed in plain grey tracksuits. The only prop on the stage is a bucket containing a human mind – the focus of the play. Light design is brilliantly used to focus on specific characters and change scenes. The minimalism allows the audience to focus on the cast and almost creates a trance, as we are observers of the trial.

‘The Effect’ is an impeccable performance by an incredible cast. It evokes a sense of questioning for the audience – are our feelings determined by our hearts or are they simply a matter of chemicals in the brain?

Until 7 October 2023, buy tickets here: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/the-effect/

Image: Marc Brenner

Reviewed 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: Brown Girls Do It Too: Mama Told Me Not To Come (abundantart.net)

Review: FACET – JUNE LAM stages a cut of his life through his poetic embrace of collage-making, presented by VSSL Studio, until 27th August.

VSSL Studio’s second exhibition of FACET, as part of an ongoing series of five exhibitions, now holds June Lam at its centre. His solo show culminates years of artistic and interdisciplinary practice, across diverse mediums, of sculpture, performance, and dance. This exhibition showcases his collages, 25 of which play to stories of alternative renderings and new futures that bring his world into view. No unenvied cuts breach the walls of Lam’s collages. Narrative induced; they are built upon with intention. No matter surprises still occur – Intimate and mystic. Floating. An engine of being filled with dis/pleasure, loss, transgressive sexuality, death, and friction tracks itself along these walls painted in a gemstone-like bottle-green.

Slinky refraction cuts between constantly changing elements, – and what falls out of sight or frame is left for dreamwork. The visuals of the collages are like final credits, phone screenshots, and film stills, waiting on a caption to dramatize and disturb the power. Donna Marcus Duke offers an accompaniment text The Liberating Power of the Cut, which is for the loved and the reviled. This text is a plucky kind of forever love letter written directly to the collages on display. Referenced and moderated, it is a pull-on reason to contextualise and caption Lam’s work, and the extraordinary realities, mediations, and experiences it attempts to conjure.

The grasping is always visual, and if you follow the collages around in order: sex and death bookend the series. Your first point of call rubs elbows with inside(s) and outside(s): Tissue, [2020] reveres no complacent cut. Instead seeks a whole that we may slip, fall, and find ourselves in a cinematic kinship and quite at home within. Tissue makes anything he says sound like sex. The immediacy of the cut, the shape of its line, the instinctive rhetoric, the made-for-screen incidental waves, and charged references all are encapsulated throughout Lam’s collages, – vacant here are any grey areas. Blessing 2 [2023], is halfway to madness, and it is lucid in its investigation of the natural order. This relative and ambivalent lucidity places a seemingly ancestral deity to have exchanged its seat on a lotus flower for a magnified fish. Submerged into different scales, any extreme closeup of the macro vs the micro is cut-and-paste perception management.  Rinse [2020], also plays to this, it is simplistic and evocative, a pool inescapable through our shrinkage. All these collages marinade and lather in kinship, this of which prevails as the central theme throughout this exhibition, even as a solo traveller.

Fevered freshness, takes clutch with the additional 2 artwork print-run, made earlier this year: Offering to Guanyin [2023], and Bao Ngoc [2023]. These prints are magnetic and self-reflective. They are generous in exploring Lam’s personal history, the left out/ leftover history, and the intergenerational trauma that both bring up, stoking a connection to his ancestral parts. This is now made real as legacy on paper. These old sounds treble, and there is no loss through partiality, for the backgrounds of the collages contain writing drawn on like that of a confessional or a diary entry. This puts a delicate face on every family as a society and as their plane of reality.

Some collages shown in this exhibition are part of a former series, titled under Squeeze, which reckons to extend beyond the bodily limit. The series began its making journey during Covid, with Covid’s touch starvation as nothing but a devout reprimand. Stalling between a fissure and a connection, the collages ask if there is any hook to be held, for it is boundless, filled with yearning and touch deprivation. Skin Hunger, [2020], part of the Squeeze series is a cradle cataloguing the image of the body. The corporal/carnal compositing and translating of space for more or less body/ or more or less human-[touch]. Cistern [2020] also from the Squeeze series forges a reaching that is infectious, eats so whole, so much so it is a new form of watery embodiment, of exteriority. Reaching each other through reaching into each other, a kind of feeder is established. Their world is a riot. The depths of which are drunk from and ready to erupt for all to see.

We still can’t stop the wind with our hands, high pressure will start a fire, and June Lam stages a cut of his life. His practice of making collages is on view at VSSL Studio as a culminating cut-and-dry show, for your pleasure until the 27th of August.

Featured Image: June Lam’s collage exhibit from his series Squeeze

Review by Devika Pararasasinghe

Devika lives and works in London, by trade an artist and snake oil salesperson. Devika graduated, last September with a research MFA at Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford.

Read Devika’s latest review Norman Thelwell Saves the Planet-The Cartoon Museum (abundantart.net)



Collage has a rich history in queer aesthetics and has been a favoured medium for many queer artists. The act of collage-making mirrors the world-making practices of queer culture, where individuals and communities necessarily have learnt to explode, edit, discard and reassemble societal norms and expectations to create their own forms of identities, communities and aesthetics. In this sense, collage can be seen as a form of resistance to dominant cultural narratives and a way to create new possibilities and futures. June Lam’s use of collage in his work for the FACET programme continues this tradition.

June Lam (b. 1990) is a community organiser and multidisciplinary artist of Chinese and Vietnamese ancestry, working across performance, dance, sculpture and collage. Trained in MA Sculpture at The Slade, his work centres queer desirability politics, fag effeminacy, and embodied experiences of intergenerational trauma. His performances involve leading meditations, connecting with ancestral parts, and movement inspired by deity practice. Creating intentional community spaces is intrinsic to June’s artistic practice. He co-founded grassroots trans healthcare fund We Exist and founded queer East and South East Asian arts platform GGI끼. These both provide necessary direct action to centre marginalised communities and address the classism and inaccessibility of traditional arts spaces by working outside of them.

This includes bringing the ethos of community organising into nightlife. GG 끼 emerged from a need for nightlife spaces safe from anti-Asian hate and transphobia and offers relief from the fetishising gaze. GGI끼 showcases radical live performance, visual arts & DJs with a hard industrial sound, defying stereotypes around ESEA passivity. For We Exist, June produced group exhibition ‘In Dedication’ at The Koppel Project, featuring 28 trans artists from the UK and beyond. He is on the advisory board and programming team for This Bright Land at Somerset House and was a judge for Guildhall Futures Fund 2022. June has performed and been exhibited at Site Gallery, Volksbuhne, Performing Borders, Ambika P3, Tate Modern, Ford Foundation, The Koppel Project, and others. June has been featured in E-Flux, Resident Advisor, Gal-Dem, Gay Times, GQ, Hunger, Dazed, Vogue UK, Vogue US, I-D, Tissue, Something Curated and AQNB; and created cover art for the fifth edition of Somesuch Stories, 2021.

FACET acknowledges the potential of both art and queerness to shift societal norms, spark dialogue and imagine new worlds.

FACET opened with VSSL lead artist and curator Benjamin Sebastian exhibiting their work alongside the multifaceted artist Alicia Radage. FACET initiates a platform for invited artists to centre their individual perspectives while fostering a greater understanding of expanded queer experiences.

Between August 2023 and January 2024, four FACET exhibitions will be held at VSSL featuring June Lam, Rocío Boliver, and Marcin Gawin, as well as a group exhibition curated by Benjamin Sebastian this October.

June Lam‘s exhibition runs from August 10-27.  October’s group exhibition explores mediums such as performance, sculpture, video, photography, and installation. Artists showcase the interconnectedness of the queer artistic landscape. This runs from October 5-22 with an event date to be confirmed.

In November renowned Mexican artist Rocío Boliver presents a powerful photographic series defying society’s beauty standards and empowering ageing women to embrace their sexuality unapologetically. Running from November 9 until 26, VSSL will host a special event on Friday November 10.  In January 2024, the FACET programme culminates with a not-to-be-missed exhibition in  January from emerging artist Marcin Gawin – exploring the potential for transformation in the human body, investigating its practical and speculative functions.

For more information on the FACET programme and its participating artists, please visit https://vssl-studio.org/FACET


Review: Dear Earth at Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre until 3 Sept

Hayward Gallery’s latest exhibition, Dear Earth brings together the work of 15 artists exploring climate change. The exhibition is an immersive exploration of our planet’s delicate ecosystems and its pressing environmental challenges.

The works on show are varied and intriguing – full size tree trunks fallen in the gallery, pyramids of green leaves, large projections reflected on water tanks. The works on display act as a means of both reflection and activism, often shining a light on the urgent issues facing our planet. Each piece serves as a stark reminder of both the fragility and resilience of our ecosystem.

Among the standout works are Ackroyd & Harvey’s portraits – a series of monochrome grass seed paintings grown from a projected photographic negative. The artists explain “where the light falls, the grass blades produce chlorophyll, the green pigment. Where there’s less light, they produce less green. Where there’s no light, they grow but are yellow”. Here, the artists explore the possibility of reclaiming ‘the commons’ – vital resources we all need and must share to sustain life on Earth: soil, water, air. Each portrait celebrates a different London activist including Paul Powlesland, a nature rights activist and barrister, Destiny Boka-Batesa, one of the founders of the clean air campaign Choked Up and Helene Schulze of London Freedom Seed Bank, which is building an urban seed commons and distributing London-grown seed for free. This powerful work is uplifting and inspiring, it showcases activists making real and important changes, in a delicate and thoughtful way.

Dear Earth at Hayward Gallery is a thought-provoking exhibition exploring the ever developing climate crisis and our relationship with it. Some accompanying information about Hayward’s own environmental policies, or even simply the environmental impact of the exhibition, would have really improved its impact. That said, the works are considered and diverse, making for an intriguing showcase.

Image : Installation view of Ackroyd & Harvey, Dear Earth: Art and Hope in a Time of Crisis (21 Jun –⁠ 3 Sep 2023). Photo: Mark Blower. Courtesy the Hayward Gallery.

More information about the exhibition and tickets is available here.

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: Cuckoo – Equal parts harrowing and hilarious (abundantart.net)


Review: Cuckoo – Equal parts harrowing and hilarious: Michael Wynne’s latest production opens at Royal Court Theatre.

Cuckoo is a bold exploration of mental wellbeing, familial dynamics and self-discovery. We follow Megyn, played by Emma Harrison in her professional debut, as she navigates coming of age in an increasingly digital and disconnected world. Themes of generational trauma, human connection and belonging run throughout. Above all, Cuckoo invites the audience to confront uncomfortable truths and challenges the stigmas associated with mental health.

The stage design is simple and understated, with the entire story contained in one space, the matriarchs living room. A dining table and 4 chairs sit in the centre, double doors open to show us a glimpse of patio garden and the gentle hum of a kettle boiling reverberates through the kitchen service hatch. The familiar design captures domestic life flawlessly.

Michael Wynne’s script perfectly captures casual familial conversation, often making the audience erupt with laughter or squirm with empathy. Wynne skillfully explores ideas of identity and the societal constructs that shape us, inviting the audience to confront their own preconceived notions and biases.

The themes of the story are mirrored further in Cuckoo’s sound and lighting design. At different points dramatic blackouts indicate the passing of time, rain pouring down mimics the somber mood and pop songs playing on the radio accompany characters with wide smiles. These visual elements work in harmony to create a world that is both captivating and unsettling.

Ultimately, Cuckoo challenges it’s audience to engage in a dialogue about what mental health means in our changing world. It is uncomfortable and unnerving, but leaves you with the hope that there is potential for healing. It is a testament to the power of theatre as a vehicle for social commentary and personal introspection.

Cuckoo ( in partnership with Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse) is showing at Royal Court Theatre until 19th August 2023. Tickets and further information is available here.

Featured Image by Manuel Harlan

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: The RHS Botanical Art & Photography Show 2023 ‘truly blossoms at Saatchi Gallery’ 16 June – 9 July – Abundant Art