A Fine Toothed Comb curated by Lubaina Himid

This autumn, HOME Manchester will present ‘A Fine Toothed Comb’ an exhibition curated by Turner Prize-winning artist Lubaina Himid. Bringing together new commissions by Himid as well as artists Magda Stawarska, Rebecca Chesney and Tracy Hill, A Fine Toothed Comb will centre on unearthing hidden layers within the city of Manchester.

Through four unique installations spanning painting on found objects, multi-screen moving image, site-specific drawing and sound compositions, the artists will each uncover invisible geological, historical, environmental and political layers of the city. From hidden waterways and disappearing wildlife, to lost music and communities hidden in plain sight, A Fine Toothed Comb invites us to look closer at what surrounds us. This is the first time all four artists’ work has been presented together, following many years of discussion and collaboration.

Lubaina Himid is known for her innovative approaches to painting and to social engagement. Over the last decade, she has earned international recognition for her figurative paintings, which explore overlooked and invisible aspects of history and of contemporary everyday life. For HOME, she will present new work which focuses on the 7,450 people in Manchester who are currently sleeping rough or in temporary accommodation. Reflecting on the presence of these people in the city, Himid will present a group of found objects, painted with patterns, animals, plants and signs. A domestic door, a lost drawer, a wooden fire engine and parts of piano will lean nonchalantly in the space; both there not there, familiar and strange, seemingly abandoned and yet somewhat coveted at the same time.

Magda Stawarska’s multi-disciplinary practice combines moving image, soundscape and traditionally made silkscreen prints and paintings on paper. In a series of projects, she has examined how rhythms in sound affect our ability to decode the visual, and how the trauma of loss, passed from one generation to another translates to  the architecture and absent buildings within a city. For this exhibition Stawarska will present a new multi-screen moving image installation focusing on two buildings, the Central Library in Manchester and the Karol Poznanski Palace – the Music Academy in Łódź, Poland. The work will pair these two structures, one of which represents silence, and the other music, by drawing links between the two post-industrial cities.

Rebecca Chesney is interested in our relationship with the land and how we romanticise and define it. Chesney’s work looks at how politics, ownership, management and commercial value all influence our surroundings, investigating the impact of human activities on nature and the environment. For this exhibition, Chesney will present a new installation considering land ownership and the history of the city and the decline of birds in Britain. Combining textiles and repurposed imagery from The Popular Handbook of British Birds, the installation will be accompanied by a soundtrack of a dawn chorus recorded in Manchester, in which blackbird, wren and song thrush can be heard over the sound of early morning traffic.

Tracy Hill’s work investigates the relationship between our human beliefs and customs, traditions of the hand created image and developing digital technologies. Considering the geological importance of subterranean rivers present below Manchester, for HOME, Hill will present a new site-responsive drawing exploring how the walking body experiences unseen energy transmitted from below the streets of Manchester City centre. Following a dowsed spring line running over 100 metres within the bedrock below the gallery and through the city, this new work is intended to reveal and speak directly to the imperceptible energies which underscore our human experience but which often exceed our ability to capture or represent them.

Lubaina Himid said: “This exhibition is very important to me. The artists Magda Stawarska, Rebecca Chesney and Tracy Hill have been in conversation with me about our very different investigative projects for many years, but this is the first time we have shown work all together. At HOME, we will present four very different installations examining the geological, historical and political issues we have individually realised that no one seems to ever want to discuss properly. The exhibition will be a unique opportunity to perform some subtle creative conjuring tricks in a way that will ensure that HOME audiences never experience the city in quite the same way again.”

Clarissa Corfe, Creative Producer: Visual Art at HOME, Manchester, said: “We are hugely excited to be announcing A Fine Toothed Comb, an exhibition we have invited Lubaina Himid to curate using her work as a starting point. She and 3 others, Magda Stawarska, Rebecca Chesney and Tracy Hill, explore hidden or forgotten people, communities and topographies across the city of Manchester. Developing their work in close proximity and over a number of years, the exhibition will explore the artists’ converging and diverging practices, and investigative attempts to turn narratives of the city inside out. Inviting artists to curate their work alongside others’ changes the way exhibitions are authored and experienced; this is an important part of HOME’s gallery programme and taps into a longer standing history of the arts centre movement as radical and democratic space.”

A Fine Toothed Comb at HOME, Manchester is curated by Lubaina Himid with Clarissa Corfe, Creative Producer: Visual Art.

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