curated with Amanda Roderick & Caroline Humphreys
May 2024 | Project website

Life changing sickness is a commonality that connects many artists’ otherwise disparate practices across decades, genres and lifetimes. Deserters asks ‘What is the relationship between illness and making? ‘Good health’ has obvious merit – but what about the value of ‘ill health’?’

Society draws lines between the healthy and the sick; rich and poor; good and bad. Artists have often – in reality and the popular imagination – occupied the fault line between these definitions – while illness, a common theme in art and literature, is often a symbol of alienation.

This project is initially being launched online, bringing together the work of 24 artists via a digital platform and extended digital catalogue. Intended as a conversation between artists and curators, this long term project will culminate with a physical presentation at a venue in Wales, to be announced. Featured artists are:

Suze Adams | Kelvin Admadibrata | Jenny Alderton Kevin F Lycett & Hannah Buckley | Hal Camplin | Coates Coates | Laura Dutton | Charlie Fitz | Johannes Gerard | Molly Gill | Dave Gowers | Caroline Humphreys | Alexandra Kuhn | Steph Mastoris | Charlotte Morgan | Jack Moyse | Isla Naylor | Sharon Paulger | Tracie Peisley | Katya Robin | Lisa Travers | Wenhui Jiang | Lisa Wooding

The mix reveals a tender delicacy of line, colour and form, combined with some chaos. Clarity of statement is combined with elements that capture confusion – the scattered, spilling out, fluid nature of ill health and the way it takes over the body, and the whole exhaustive nature of illness and the need to find rest and recalibrate. The themes and modes that have emerged can be broadly described as: abstraction, repetition and pattern making; nature and healing; lying down while the world stands up; the body – whole and in parts; text and form filling.

Deserters has grown from conversations with previous artists, who took part in our exhibitions  The Coming of Age and Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed?, and with Caroline Humphreys, who is now co-curating Deserters with Bella Kerr, alongside Amanda Roderick who is creating its online presence. The curators hope to further develop the conversation with exhibitors through the digital catalogue as a ‘long life’ version of the project

Image credits (from top):
Heart by Katya Robin (Drawing)
Body and bed bed and body by Charlotte Morgan (Letterpress)
i am here now by Jenny Alderton (still from video)
The Healing by Johannes Gerard (still from video)