Critically acclaimed artist Cedar Lewisohn to host new exhibition at Nottingham's Bonington Gallery
Patois Banton is a new exhibition by artist, writer, and curator Cedar Lewisohn, on show at the Bonington Gallery, Nottingham Trent University, from 21 January 2023.
The exhibition will be Lewisohn’s first UK solo exhibition outside of London and follows his critically acclaimed exhibition The Thousand Year Kingdom at the Saatchi Gallery and group exhibition Untitled at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, both in 2021. As a curator, Lewisohn produced the landmark Street Art exhibition at Tate Modern in 2008, and more recently the Dub London project at the Museum of London. He is currently the Curator of Site Design at Southbank Centre, London.
Lewisohn’s work uses drawing as the starting point for a practice that encompasses woodblock and lino prints, publications, performances, moving images, sound, VR experience, and the written word.
Over the past decade he has been researching and drawing objects relating to ancient African and Mesopotamian civilizations within museum collections, including the Benin Bronzes, which have become a touchstone in the discussion around global museums’ restitution of looted heritage.
In his prints Lewisohn mixes his depictions of works from ancient civilizations with symbols of contemporary British youth culture, such as sound system culture, dancehall, drill music and urban landscapes, to explore current social, ethical, and political issues. The mix of African, Jamaican and British histories, locations, myths, and hidden stories is central to Lewisohn’s work.
The exhibition's title is a fusion of two words that offer further insight into Lewisohn’s practice and preoccupations. During the pandemic, Lewisohn took lessons in Patois – the English-based creole language spoken throughout Jamaica – from academic and poet, Joan Hutchison. He is interested in the migration of Patois back to the UK through its use in reggae and dancehall lyrics, and its integration into the slang of young urban Britain. Banton is the Jamaican word for storyteller. Combining these words highlights Lewisohn’s concern with Jamaican heritage from both a personal and historical perspective, and his desire to explore its ongoing influence on modern-day British culture.
The exhibition will present a range of large and small-scale works, some not exhibited before. It will include works from his acclaimed book The Marduk Prophecy – shown alongside a newly commissioned publication, and an interactive virtual space that explores Lewisohn’s fascination with mixing the handmade - in this case his woodblock prints - with digital technology.
To accompany the exhibition Bonington Gallery will publish a new compilation of poetry by the artist. 'Office Poems' features a selection of poems exploring the humour and mundanity of office life. Each poem will be published in English and Patois, with translations by Joan Hutchinson.
Bonington Gallery is part of Curated & Created, NTU’s extra-curricular and public arts programme.
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Lewisohn (b. 1977, London) has worked on numerous projects for institutions such as Tate Britain, Tate Modern and The British Council. In 2008, he curated the landmark Street Art exhibition at Tate Modern and recently curated the Museum of London’s Dub London project. In 2020 he was appointed curator of Site Design for The Southbank Centre. He is the author of three books (Street Art, Tate 2008, Abstract Graffiti, Merrell, 2011, The Marduk Prophecy, Slimvolume, 2020), and has edited a number of publications. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally for over twenty years and belongs to a number of collections. In 2015 he was a resident artist at the Jan Van Eyke Academie in Maastricht. Lewisohn has been included in numerous group exhibitions and had solo projects at the bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht (2015), Joey Ramone, Rotterdam (2016), in VOLUME Book Fair at ArtSpace Sydney (2015) and Exeter Phoenix, (2017). Most recently he had a solo exhibition at Saatchi Gallery entitled The Thousand Year Kingdom in 2021 and participated in the group exhibition UNTITLED: art on the conditions of our time at Kettles Yard, Cambridge where his work was named by The Guardian as “the highlight of the show”.
Bonington Gallery was established in 1969 as part of the modernist purpose-built School of Art & Design, Bonington Building at Nottingham Trent University. Situated at the heart of the art-school, the Gallery is surrounded by a wide range of creative disciplines, with strong connections across several academic departments. Whilst the core association of the Gallery is one of contemporary visual art, the resident context drives an artistic programme that unifies a range of artistic, cultural and research practices. This has enabled the gallery to form a unique identity within the regional cultural landscape, whilst establishing a broader critical context associated with reflecting and exploring artistic production and its relationship to wider societal discourse. The Gallery programmes three exhibitions per academic year, accompanied by a prolific public events schedule of talks, screenings and seminars.
The gallery has organised and housed several important exhibitions over the years including Mirage Enigmas of Race, Difference and Desire, 1996 (including Sonia Boyce, Glenn Ligon and Steve McQueen) and BT New Contemporaries, 1992 (including Tacita Dean and Permindar Kaur). Recently we have developed solo exhibitions with Giorgio Sadotti, Sara MacKillop, Dick Jewell, Ruth Angel Edwards and group projects with The Community, Paris, The Serving Library and Nottingham Black Archive.
About Nottingham Trent University
Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens. The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.
NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked second best university in the UK in the Uni Compare Top 100 rankings (2021/2022). It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).
NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with nearly 39,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.
Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.
NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.
NTU is ranked 4th most sustainable university in the world and 1st in the UK for sustainability-themed Education and Research in the 2021 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).
- Category: Culture; Curated & Created; Press office