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Jerwood Arts exhibits works by Silvia Rosi and Theo Simpson
Silvia Rosi, Self Portrait as my Mother, 2019. Giclée Hahnemühle Photo Rag Pearl.

LONDON.- Artists Silvia Rosi and Theo Simpson will exhibit newly commissioned photographic works at Jerwood Arts, London, from 15 January 2020 as part of the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2020. Both artists explore the idea of history through their photographic practices, across themes of family, industry, identity and architecture. Over the past 12 months, these two early-career artists have developed new bodies of work, which has seen them both pushing the boundaries of what photographic practices can be, supported by expert mentors, including artist Roger Palmer and curator Renée Mussai. These will be exhibited for the first time at Jerwood Arts, and will then tour the UK, including Belfast Exposed and Street Level Photoworks in Glasgow in 2021.

Silvia Rosi’s work explores her personal family history drawing on her Togolaise heritage, and the idea of origins. Her mother, who has been an inspiration for much of her previous work, plays a central role in this project, as well as her father, and their experiences of migration from Togo in West Africa to Italy. This theme of family is explored through self-portraits in which Silvia plays her mother and father, and is partially informed by the West African studio portrait. This family history and her position as a European looking back on her family heritage is also explored through a visual deconstruction of head carrying techniques, a practice with its own histories, skills, rituals and aesthetics. Silvia’s family history has a strong connection to this traditional practice, due to her mother’s previous job as a market trader. For this exhibition, Silvia’s work will include new examples of colour and black and white photography, as well as video works for the first time.

Theo Simpson’s work is informed by the tradition of landscape photography, through this he explores human possibility, political impulses and economic transformations. Theo’s work aims to push the boundaries of photography as a medium, particularly by using sculptural elements. He also combines archival images with photographs he has captured at various sites. The regional landscapes he photographs link with the engineering techniques and materials, such as steel and coal anchors. Through this manipulation of images, as with his piece Drift (above) which appropriated a 1971 protest against Britain joining the European Economic Community, Theo creates representative works, which touch on the idea of history repeating itself.

Following a national open call, the two awardees were selected from over 450 submissions of UKbased artists using photography within 10 years of establishing their practice. The selection panel for the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2020 was: Aaron Schuman, artist; Marta Weiss, Curator of Photographs at V&A Museums; Shama Khanna, freelance curator and writer; Shoair Mavlian, Director of Photoworks; and Lilli Geissendorfer, Director of Jerwood Arts. Lilli Geissendorfer, Director, Jerwood Arts says, “We are delighted to be launching 2020 with an exhibition of new photographic commissions by Silvia Rosi and Theo Simpson at Jerwood Arts in London. The Jerwood/Photoworks Awards is a key part of our mission to support outstanding artists from across the UK to develop and thrive at a pivotal point in their practice. Over the past 12 months Silvia and Theo have been developing distinctive bodies of work that explore history and identity through family, industry and place; considering the unique role of photography in giving voice to these subjects.” Shoair Mavlian, Director, Photoworks, adds, "The Jerwood/Photoworks Awards is an important part of our programme and in 2020 will be an exciting start to our 25th anniversary year. The award gives opportunities to talented early career artists and helps to cultivate the exploration, expansion and development of their practices. Silvia Rosi and Theo Simpson’s work stood out to us for numerous reasons. What is so exciting in this year’s recipients is that for both Silvia and Theo what is central to their practices is how photography integrates other mediums.”

Presented every two years, the Jerwood/Photoworks Awards are open to artists using photography who are based in the UK and within 10 years of establishing their practice. The Awards particularly seek to encourage artists and photographers exploring new approaches to photography, and/or whose practice is experimental. The awards give £10,000 to each of the recipients to develop new work to exhibit at Jerwood Arts, London, and on the subsequent UK tour. It also provides a production fund of £5,000 and high profile mentoring support from an international panel of experts, alongside curatorial and artistic development support from both Jerwood Arts and Photoworks, and in kind printing from Official Print Partner Spectrum Photographic.

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