4 CROPPED FOR SOCIALS Liza Sylvestre asweetsea video still 2022 Courtesy of the artist

Liza Sylvestre


21 Oct 2023 — 23 Dec 2023  

Wednesday – Sunday, 10am-4pm 

City Dome Gallery

Liza 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.

The works exhibited at Collective 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.

The works in this show can be accessed in multiple ways. The videos include open captions in English and integrated verbal descriptions.

Written interpretation material can be found here, and an audio version here.

Sarah Hayden's accompanying essay can be found in writing here, and an audio version here.

An audio description for the exhibition can be found here.

Collective's winter opening hours are: 10am-4pm Wednesday-Sunday.

Image credit: Liza Sylvestre, asweetsea, video still, 2022. Courtesy of the artist.


To accompany the exhibition, a companion film, asweetsea_excerpt_captions_with_sound, is available to view below and in our Library (City Observatory).