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"Carmel Buckley and Mark Harris: Sparrow Come Back Home" on view at the ICA Fox Reading Room
Sparrow Come Back Home installation view.

LONDON.- The ICA Fox Reading Room continues its run of exhibitions examining archive, legacy and heritage with Carmel Buckley and Mark Harris: Sparrow Come Back Home. “Sparrow Come Back Home” is the title of a 1962 album by Calypso singer Mighty Sparrow, which points out the irony of being appreciated only once he had left Trinidad for the US. The exhibition shows representations of Sparrow’s records alongside an archive of printed material relating to his music, revealing the depth of calypso culture.

Artists Carmel Buckley and Mark Harris installed their work of 228 ceramic tiles, each approximately the size of an LP, depicting the front and back of record covers from Sparrow’s entire career. The images comprise of photo decals fired onto the tiles, fixing his music into a kind of permanent memorial.

Mighty Sparrow, born Slinger Francisco, began song writing and performing in the intensely competitive public arena of Trinidad Carnival in the early 1950s and although he has recently been seriously ill, Sparrow still performed during the 2014 Trinidad Carnival. His first vinyl LP, Calypso Carnival, was released in 1958, with his most recent work, Sparromania! released in 2011. His entire body of work has been collected, locating almost two-hundred LPs and 12-inch singles from different Caribbean islands as well as in cities of the West Indian diaspora such as New York, Toronto and London. West Indians acclaimed Sparrow as amongst the most important calypsonians of the late twentieth-century for the humorous topicality and the lyrical and musical inventiveness of his songs. In spite of this acclaim, Sparrow, and calypso more generally, continue to be little understood and appreciated in comparison with other world music.

The installation of tiles is accompanied by an archive of literature and photographs relating to calypso and Trinidadian social and political issues often addressed by these songs. Besides photographs, posters and records by rival calypsonians from the period, the archive includes poetry by John Agard, Kamau Brathwaite, Lasana Kwesi, Abdul Malik and Derek Walcott who have written powerfully about calypso, Carnival and steel drum music. There are works by Earl Lovelace whose remarkable 1979 novel Dragon Can’t Dance includes a portrayal of a calypso singer clearly based on Sparrow. Also included is a 1963 book of Sparrow’s lyrics, One Hundred And Twenty Calpysoes to Remember, as well as Gordon Rohlehr’s key publication Calpypso & Society in Pre-Independent Trinidad along with sound and video components to the archive.

The ICA Fox Reading Room encompasses a unique exhibition programme that places archival material at the core of each presentation. Often highlighting a specific period, movement or practice, ICA Reading Room exhibitions are multi-disciplinary and ensure diverse perspectives, focussing on cultures and movements that are considered alternative, ground-breaking or representative of minority groups. -

Born in Derby, England, Carmel Buckley, Associate Professor, Department of Art, The Ohio State University, received a bachelor of arts in sculpture from Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic (United Kingdom) in 1978 and continued her studies at the Escuela de Bellas Artes of Madrid University from 1979-80 and the San Carlos Academy of Fine Arts in Mexico City from 1983-84, on a Mexican Government Scholarship. She earned a master of fine arts in sculpture from the School of Visual Arts, New York as a Fulbright Fellow in 1988. She has been the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Art Sculpture Award and an Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Award. In 1994 she had a solo exhibition at the Wexner Center in Columbus, OH. Recent solo exhibitions include The Weston Art Gallery, Cincinnati, OH (2009), Clay Street Press, Cincinnati, OH (2011), and The Center For Recent Drawing, London, England (2012), and Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts (2014). Her work has been featured in exhibitions at Gallery North, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, England (2005); at Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati, OH (2006); at E:vent Gallery, London, England (2009), Sculpture Key West, Key West, FL (2011).

Currently teaching in Goldsmiths College Art Department, London; Mount Royal MFA, MICA, Baltimore; School of Art Professor, University of Cincinnati.

Recent exhibitions: ‘High Times’, Wellcome Collection, London, (2011); ‘London Open’, Whitechapel Gallery, (2012); Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts (2014), Cherry & Lucic, Portland, OR, (2015); Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2015), Zephyr Gallery, Louisville (2016); Root Division, San Francisco (2016); Wave Pool, Cincinnati (2016) and ICA, London (2016).

Received Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital Art Writers Grant, (2009). Recent published writing includes: ‘Pipilotti Rist's Music’ (2009); ‘Marcia Farquhar: Chelsea Hotel, March 14, 2008’ (2009); ‘A Local Culture: tradition and risk in Cincinnati’, (PAFA, 2011); essay in West of Center, University of Minnesota Press, (2011); “The Materiality of Water,” Aesthetic Investigations, (2015); “Another Minimalism” Art Monthly, (2016); “What Strategies Enable Women Artists’ Self-Determination Today?,” C21 RECENT HISTORY, (2016); “Sharon Hayes,” Studio Voltaire, London,, (2016); “Intoxicating Painting,” Journal of Contemporary Painting, (forthcoming 2016).

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"Carmel Buckley and Mark Harris: Sparrow Come Back Home" on view at the ICA Fox Reading Room

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