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Wednesday 16th March 2022

Paula Rego, Donna Huanca, Polly Braden,Sam Francis

— Arnolfini
Join us for our Spring 2022 programme, with exhibitions across our galleries, Reading Room, Light and Dark Studios
price: Headfirst Tickets


Paula Rego : Subversive Stories
Arnolfini welcome you to venture into the extraordinary imagination of Dame Paula Rego RA, one of the leading figurative contemporary artists of our time.

Rego makes a welcome return to Bristol (almost 40 years after her first exhibition here in 1982-83), creating an opportunity for a new generation of visitors to discover the artist’s rich and imaginative world. Featuring over 80 prints from across Rego’s extensive career, the exhibition explores her interweaving wit and dark humour, delving into the art of storytelling through Rego’s reinterpretations of well-known narratives and classic tales, repositioning the role of women at their centre.

Subversive Stories also looks deeper at Rego’s mastery of the printed medium, revealing the process of printmaking as it informs Rego’s multi-layered interpretations, bringing shadowy readings to childish mischief, whilst casting a light on present-day politics, most notably those affecting women.

Bringing together early examples of experiments in etching and lithography, her much-loved series Nursery Rhymes, Peter Pan, Jane Eyre and the Pendle Witches, and less familiar stories, such as The Prince Pig and The Curved Planks, Rego pulls us into a world of not so ‘wicked’ women, childhood adventure, folklore and fairy tales, in which the underdog reigns supreme, as Rego reinforces her reputation, taking ‘the side of the beauty not the beast.’

*Please note this exhibition includes images that explore sexuality, abortion, and the practice of female genital mutilation.
Donna Huanca : CUEVA DE COPAL
Arnolfini are excited to present CUEVA DE COPAL, a new and immersive site-specific installation by Donna Huanca, a celebrated, rising star of the international art world.

Drawing on painting, sculpture, performance, choreography, video, and sensory interventions, Huanca’s interdisciplinary practice focuses upon the human body, exploring our physical relationship to the world around us.

Huanca builds her experiential installations around the architecture of each new site, with CUEVA DE COPAL plunging audiences into a cocoon-like space. Encouraging audiences to reflect upon their environment, the installation integrates ideas explored through previous installations, in which Huanca has transformed the masonic temple of Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles, the early-18th century palace of the Belvedere Museum in Vienna, and the high desert landscape surrounding the Ballroom Marfa in Texas.

Building on past remnants of her own work, Huanca excavates and layers, transforming her live ‘skin’ paintings into new multi-layered and hybrid forms that sit somewhere between performance, sculpture, photography, and painting. Explored within the darkness of CUEVA DE COPAL, these bodily forms take on new lives enhanced by sound, scent, and texture.

Donna’s new commission brings this acclaimed artist to Bristol and the south west for the first time as part of Arnolfini’s commitment to showcasing the best contemporary artists of each generation.

Polly Braden presents Holding the Baby, an exhibition of new photography that creates a powerful and moving portrait of the impact of austerity measures on families across the UK.

Braden’s participatory project (which began life at the Museum of the Home), features families from Bristol, London, and Liverpool, including photographic portraits and narrated stories, highlighting the lived experience, strength, and resilience of single parents.

Inspired and provoked by a United Nations report which stated that single parents have been hardest hit by UK austerity measures, Braden’s collaborative photographs – some taken during lockdown by the parents themselves – capture the families’ sense of adventure, optimism, creativity and ambition, that transcends the often difficult, situations they face.

Accompanied by excerpts from conversations between the families and journalist Sally Williams, and reflections on the idea of ‘home’ drawn together by writer Claire-Louise Bennett, Braden captures the individual stories of Fran, Jahanara, Charmaine, Aaron, Barbeline, Caroline, Gemma and Carike, highlighting the universality of their lives.

The exhibition includes pop-up displays at other venues around the city, please check our website for more information.

Sam Francis : Let the Idea Travel
As part of our 60th anniversary programme in 2021, Arnolfini invited artist Sam Francis to respond to the performance piece Somerset – A Year in the Life of a Field, by Lizzie Cox, which was shown at Arnolfini in 1981. The original piece left few traces in our archive, beyond a handful of images and a title, which seemed intriguing enough to warrant further exploration. One year on, and Francis has shown this to be very much the case through a number of text-based and image-based pieces she created through 2021.

Let the Idea Travel will focus on a new film work by Francis, ‘In here dreaming’ alongside text pieces and a handmade book created during a residency at UWE’s Bower Ashton campus (where Cox taught for many years). Experimental and elegiac, created in dialogue both with Lizzie Cox’s artwork and through connecting with people who knew her, and rooted in direct experience of a range of sites in Somerset, Francis’ work reminds us of the richness of the Land/Environmental Art movement, then and now.

In addition, alongside Francis’ work, we will be presenting work by students from Weston College, who worked with her last autumn, exploring Land Art histories and practices, and reflecting on what the landscape means to them.

Event photos for Paula Rego, Donna Huanca, Polly Braden,Sam Francis:

Paula Rego, Donna Huanca, Polly Braden,Sam Francis at Arnolfini
Paula Rego, Donna Huanca, Polly Braden,Sam Francis in Bristol 2022