The Women Sculptors of ActionSpace by Sheryll Catto and Charlotte Hollinshead of ActionSpace
This talk will examine the diverse sculptural practices of three ActionSpace artists Nnena Kalu, Linda Bell and Lasmin Salmon and discuss some of the core themes that run throughout their practices. They will reflect on the artists’ mighty careers that span over nearly two decades, with the three artists working out of ActionSpace’s supported studio at Studio Voltaire.
ActionSpace is a London based visual arts organisation that supports learning disabled artists. They seek out and unlock talent, create opportunities and enable learning disabled artists to realise their potential.
Over the last two decades, Nnena Kalu has created a large body of sculptural and two-dimensional work and developed a live, performative element to her art practice, creating site-specific installations.
Through repetitive and durational processes, Nnena explores space, scale, texture, and colour, constructing a dynamic relationship between her body and material. Nnena’s sculptural works are a direct expression of her physical movement and internal rhythm. In a constant state of flux, pieces are made, dissembled then remade for each presentation. They frequently begin with compact ‘cocoons’ of textiles and paper tightly packed in colourful cellophane. Repeated forms then build organically through extensive binding and wrapping with layers of paper, tapes, and lines of unspooled VHS tapes.
Nnena’s two-dimensional works are also viewed as sculptural explorations of space dictated by the length and reach of Nnena’s arms, as well as the size of the paper. Drawings and paintings are frequently produced in pairs, the second an echo of the first, a rhythm is built up and multiple layers constructed. As with Nnena’s sculptural works, the drawings are an exploration of continuous line, shifting and ever-evolving forms.
Notable exhibitions and commissions include the solo exhibitions Nnena Kalu for Studio Voltaire elsewhere (202), and Infinite Drawing Deptford X. Nnena’s work is held in private and public collections including the Tate’s permanent collection and the Arts Council Collection.
Linda creates large-scale, interactive, and performative sculptural works. Through her multifaceted, experimental approach, Linda explores the sensory nature of materials, such as foil, paper, and fabric. She transforms the materials as they are reshaped and assembled together. The tactile qualities of the materials are vital. Linda seeks out materials that satisfy her need to create certain movements and shapes, which she then repeats to create multiple forms that expand into larger work.
Linda then transforms the work through rigorous movement, interactions, and impromptu performance. Sharing the movement of her sculptural work and the performative experience is crucial to her practice, for Linda to explore the relationship between herself, her work and the viewer or collaborator.
Notable exhibitions and commissions include a permanent installation at Springfield Hospital, Tooting commissioned by Hospital Rooms, leading a participation workshop for Hospital Room’s exhibition Like There is Hope and I Can Dream of Another World at Hauser & Wirth and the touring exhibition Radical Craft at Pallant House in 2016.
Lasmin is a textile artist. She creates unconventional, large-scale sculptural works consisting of meticulously constructed smaller textile forms. Lasmin carefully selects fabrics, textures and colours to create multiples of small forms which she then assembles together to form a larger artwork or series. Intense periods of work are balanced by moments of sharing the work with others, through hanging, draping, and wearing, to explore the artwork’s potential. Lasmin’s textiles emit a sense of pleasure, care, and warmth in the making process through to the love and enjoyment of the final objects she creates.
Notable exhibitions and commissions include Thread at elysium gallery in 2021, Threads Contemporary Textile Open at Salisbury Arts Centre in 2016 and the touring exhibition Radical Craft at Pallant House in 2016.