Emii Alrai in conversation with Harriet Cooper (Independent Curator, formerly Jerwood Arts) and Ruth Claxton (Eastside Projects)
Emii Alrai (b. 1993) is an artist and trained museum registrar whose work spans material investigation in relation to memory, critique of the western museological structure and the complexity of ruins. Working primarily in sculpture and installation, her work operates as large-scale realms built in relation to bodies of research which concern archaeology and the natural environments objects are excavated from. Weaving in oral histories, inherited nostalgia and the details of language to question the rigidity of Empire and the power of hierarchy to interpolate the static presence of history. Clay vessels, gypsum forms and steel armatures punctuate the labyrinth-like spaces Alrai creates, mimicking museum dioramas and romanticised visions of the past.
Ruth Claxton is an artist whose work has been presented nationally & internationally. She is Artist Maker at Eastside Projects, an artist run multiverse in Birmingham, which she co-leads with Artist Curator, Gavin Wade. As well as co-curating exhibitions and producing public artworks she has co-developed infrastructure at various scales to support artists including Extra Ordinary People, The Syllabus, and STEAMhouse which houses the Production Space, workshops which offer artists access to tech support and traditional and digital equipment for production in wood, metal, biomaterials and print. She is currently working with Abbas Zahedi and Chandos Primary School to open up a sonic portal between the two spaces that only children can use. Eastside Projects
Harriet Cooper is an independent curator from Manchester, who lives on the South East coast of England. Her current curatorial work focuses on early-career artists and commissioning in the visual arts, with a particular interest in sculptural practices. More widely, she is interested in the conditions, care and collaborations that can support artistic development for creative practices across art, writing and curating.
From 2018 – 2022 Harriet was Head of Visual Arts for independent funder Jerwood Arts, where she led their work with early-career visual artists, curating new commissions and partnerships across the UK. Prior to this she worked in the curatorial teams at Firstsite, the British Council, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Tate Liverpool; and co-curated Phyllida Barlow’s commission folly for the British Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017. Harriet is an Independent Member of the Cymru yn Fenis Wales in Venice Advisory Committee 2020-2024, a member of the Arts Council Collection Acquisitions Committee 2022-23 and was awarded Fire Station Artist Studios International Curator Residency in 2023.