Autumn Exhibitions website lockup 1

Autumn Exhibitions

Collective is pleased to announce two new exhibitions for Autumn (21 October – 23 December): asweetsea by U.S. artist Liza Sylvestre, and John by Satellites artist Thomas Abercromby. Both centred around moving image works, the two exhibitions explore diverse themes encompassing language, access, family, social mobility, memory and communication.

In Sylvestre’s first solo exhibition in Scotland, asweetsea explores what it means to communicate. As an artist who is deaf, and whose child and partner are both hearing, Sylvestre seeks to locate where her disability lives within their family structure. Comprising a moving image work and series of related drawings (originally commissioned as part of Liza Sylvestre | asweetsea at John Hansard Gallery (2022), and now shown in Collective’s City Dome Gallery), Sylvestre’s exhibition investigates the complicated edges of distinctions. What does hearing mean? What does deafness mean? What does disability mean? Where do these things begin and end?

In asweetsea, Sylvestre has collaborated with her 6-year-old child to reimagine an animated cartoon from the artist’s own childhood. Sylvestre’s fond memories of the 1985 animated TV special, Sweet Sea, evolved at a time when she had a very different sensory makeup. Now, as her hearing child relays their experience of the film, Sylvestre reworks the animated material to fit their description. Captioned extracts of conversations between parent and child convey both the sound and the intimacy of their interaction. Vividly coloured and shimmering with undersea motion, their remake engages generational experiences of disability, interdependence, sensory memory, communication, and time.

To accompany the film, Collective will also show three of Sylvestre’s Parts drawings. These large scale works on paper are built up in layers of overlapping detailed line drawings, reminiscent of the language of instruction manuals. Fragments of illustrations for the assembly and use of cochlear implants combine with details of toys and building blocks from Lego construction guides. The structure of language and communication within a family is made visible as an investigation of overlapping systems. Sylvestre’s work invites us to consider the role of description in creating access, and a related online work brings additional layers of imagery, sound, access and interpretation.

Titled in homage to the artist’s father, John is a new commission by Glaswegian artist and curator Thomas Abercromby presented as part of Collective’s Satellites programme. Centred around a film installation of the same name, Abercromby has collaborated with an all-working-class cast and crew to explore the intricate ties between family, grief and the multifaceted layers of social class. John raises the question: how do we navigate spaces not designed for us?

The film juxtaposes childhood paintings made by Abercromby’s late father with opulent gallery interiors, and painterly images of peripheral urban landscapes of the artist's youth. These are seamlessly intertwined with behind-the-scenes moments that expose the subjectivity of the cast and crew themselves, and the work that has gone into the production of John. The film not only challenges traditional artistic norms but also invites audiences to confront and reflect upon the spaces and narratives that are often left uncharted in the art world.

Collective’s Director Sorcha Carey commented: “For Collective’s Autumn programme, we are excited to share two such extraordinary moving image works. In both Liza and Thomas’ exhibitions, the personal and the political meet – inviting us to find greater connection with one another.

Satellites is Collective’s development programme for emergent practitioners based in Scotland. The 2022/23 participants are Thomas Abercromby, Rabindranath X Bhose, Kaya Fraser and Matty Rimmer.

The works exhibited at Collective as part of asweetsea were originally commissioned for Liza Sylvestre | asweetsea, curated by Sarah Hayden at John Hansard Gallery (2022), as part of an AHRC Fellowship project called Voices in the Gallery.

Collective’s winter opening hours will begin on Tuesday 1 October and run until Saturday 23 December. During this time, Collective will be open: Wednesday-Sunday, 10am to 4pm.

Collective is supported by Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council.

Satellites Programme is supported by Baillie Gifford