Sometimes you visit an exhibition which appears to have more behind it than is first apparent. This is the case with Grace Wales Bonner’s current exhibition within the old brick walls of the magazine building that is now the Serpentine Sackler Gallery. To the uninitiated, it leaves more questions than answers as they explore the different and apparently unconnected works by different artists throughout the gallery. The key is to go along to one of the events that brings it to life and/or to download the excellent booklet that explains all.
London is busy this week with the international showcase of the latest fashions at London Fashion week, so it is highly appropriate that this exhibition should be on now as the rich and famous worship at the temple of the Fashion. Grace Wales Bonner is a fashion designer, a graduate of Central St. Martins in 2014 and winner of many prizes including the Emerging Menswear Designer in 2015 at the British Fashion Awards, the LVMH Young Designer Prize in 2016 and the British Land London Design Medal in 2018. She is, however, a fashion designer with a difference, using her talents to explore identity, multiple cultures and self-expression beyond the world of fashion with collaborations and interconnections that link to the heritage of black and Caribbean cultures.
Her work is spiritual and mysterious and you have to ask whether her heritage gives her an advantage that more mainstream designers don’t have, never will have, or have not discovered. The exhibition takes its inspiration from the writings of Ben Okri in his collection of essays, ‘A Time for New Dreams’, focusing on the shrine – a traditional feature of African. Latin American and Caribbean cultures – created from the most strange and varied of objects – as our pathway to a new world where we can let our imagination roam free. Here Grace has orchestrated work from a variety of artists, into her unique composition, including performances from writers and musicians during the exhibition, bringing all the different artistic disciplines together.