Irish artist Robyn Ward and The Big Pink frontman Robbie Furze team up for Ward’s new solo exhibition, Walking in the Dark, on the eve of Frieze London art fair
All proceeds from the exhibition will go to Cancer Research UK and the pair plan to launch more charitable events around the world in the coming year
Contemporary artist Robyn Ward and musician Robbie Furze of The Big Pink have come together to work on Ward’s new immersive solo exhibition Walking in the Dark and to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
Walking in the Dark features 22 large painted canvases and six freestanding sculptures inspired by Ward’s own nomadic lifestyle driven by a need for both escapism and avoidance. His close friend and creative collaborator Robbie Furze created original music for the exhibition, which was written in response to the artworks and composed to compliment the viewers’ experience.
The pair plan to make this the first event of creative collaborations which will raise much-needed funds for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, which has touched both their lives through family and friends.
Following the successful fund-raising at the exhibition, Ward and Furze plan to take the exhibition around the world, from Singapore and Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mexico and the USA, and create a global movement involving other artists and musicians for the cause.
A celebrity-packed dinner and private viewing took place last night on the eve of the exhibition in Old Sessions House, Clerkenwell Green, London. Major names from the worlds of music, modelling, acting and media mingled with artists and investors at the launch of the exhibition, which opens to the public tomorrow, Saturday 7th October.
Walking in the Dark, which enjoyed a highly successful and much-praised run in New York earlier this year, will run until 15th October during the Frieze London art fair, which sees the world’s top investors, critics and artists descend on the capital.
Curated by artistic director Shai Baitel (Modern Art Museum Shanghai), Walking in the Dark has two distinct elements. The central exhibition space will contain Ward’s artworks of abstract compositions and mixed media sculptures, while in the basement of Walking in the Dark, visitors will be able to experience the installations with the use of miner’s hard hats and headlamps in the pitch-black darkness, reflecting the deep subconsciousness of the artist and his creative process.
Says Ward: ‘Robbie has composed something beautiful which links the paintings and the music together in an incredible way. It will be as if people are actually exploring my own subconscious in the darkness, which makes Robbie’s soundtrack such an important part of the experience. It really brings my emotions to life.’
Adds Furze: ‘I love creating atmospheres and soundscapes and I like to think that my music creates an almost meditative effect, so you can appreciate Robyn’s work even more by enhancing the whole experience, working with it rather than distracting from it.’
Robyn Ward has raised money for a variety of different charitable causes over the years, and was encouraged to support Cancer Research UK by Furze, who launched The Pamela Ann Foundation in tribute to his mother, who is undergoing a long battle with the disease. The pair have previously supported events in aid of Teen Cancer Trust, but this is the first time they have worked creatively together.
Born in Ireland and raised in Northern Ireland, Ward takes his personal experience of destruction, chaos and the breakdown of society and relates it to both historical and modern-day global conflict. Walking in the Dark looks at the themes of migration and traumas – both national and personal – and asks questions: ‘Why do people roam?’ ‘What is the aftermath of perpetual movement?’
Ward himself left Dublin when he was four years old, moving to Belfast where he lived until he was 18. He says: ‘From 18 to 25 I don’t think I spent more than seven or eight months in a row in one city. I think that, combined with never really being settled in Belfast, led me to lead quite a nomadic lifestyle.’
Ward has worked under many pseudonyms and different collectives throughout the years. He has exhibited at the Museo Tamayo and the Museo Nacional De Arte in Mexico City, with paintings included in a number of key auctions and exhibitions in New York, London, Los Angeles, Paris and Hong Kong, among others.
Says Baitel: ‘To embark on Ward’s art journey and see the subtlety of this ubiquitous psychological tension manifested in his work requires an openness to experiencing catharsis this impactful, of seeing one’s life in all its tensions and contradictions reflected through the artist’s creation.
‘Like the abstracted nature of Ward’s artworks, a nomadic sensibility often abstracts the deeper reasons for such roaming. His work begets questions around what exactly Ward is veiling through his travels. Like the act of walking in the dark, viewing Ward’s work requires one’s eyes to adjust to see what would otherwise not be detected.
‘In Ward’s work there is energy, a level of brightness, that shows the ability and possibility to emerge from and embrace the shadow.’
Walking in the Dark, Knotel at Old Sessions House
23 Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0NA
Saturday October 7th – Sunday October 15thExhibition will be open by appointment 11am to 6pm daily 7th-12th, no appointment needed 13th-15th.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Robyn Ward (b.1982 Dublin) tells a bold narrative that is both timely and provocative through painting and sculpture. Born in Ireland and growing up in Northern Ireland, Ward takes his personal experience of destruction, chaos, and governance commenting on the breakdown of society, relating it to both historical and modern-day global conflict. This allows him to examine how the world has been shaped by the past; from climate change and environmental destruction to socio-economic inequality. Reoccurring images are obscured and unveiled in Ward’s multi-faceted canvases. Using wet, loose brush strokes with distinctive markings he tells this story through a nostalgic veil of innocence and naivety, revealing snapshots of the past while simultaneously obscuring or hiding others. ‘Each layer depicts a different fragment of time,’ Ward comments. ‘Often they are screen- shots of parts of my life.’
Ward has worked under many pseudonyms and different collectives throughout the years, until recently breaking the cover of anonymity in 2017. This quickly grabbed the attention of international media and he has been working under his birth name since.
Ward has exhibited at the Museo Tamayo and the Museo Nacional De Arte in Mexico City, with paintings included in a number of key auctions and exhibitions in the likes of NY, London, Los Angeles, Paris and Hong Kong amongst others.
His studios are currently located between New York, Los Angeles and Mexico City.
ABOUT THE CURATOR
Shai Baitel (b. 1975) is an artistic director and arts executive with extensive experience in art and cultural projects and institutions. He is a contributor and writer for several prominent publications. Baitelserves as the inaugural Artistic Director of the Modern Art Museum (MAM) Shanghai and is the co-founder of Mana Contemporary, a global, multidisciplinary and comprehensive arts centre.