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‘Elephant Atlas’: LCC launches latest exhibition, inspired by the Cuming Collection, featuring 17 artists and writers


Written by
Jake May
Published date
21 March 2018

London College of Communication is delighted to unveil ‘Elephant Atlas’ – an exhibition featuring 17 artists and writers involved in photography, illustration, performance, installation, film, creative writing and participatory workshops. responding to objects from the Cumin Museum collection.

The exhibition will step away from the traditional methods of presenting museum objects and museum subjects. Instead, each contributor has used ideas raised by the objects and stories, choosing items or aspects which have captured their imaginations.

Curated by Judy Aitken and LCC Senior Lecturer for BA (Hons) Photography and MA Photography Sophy Rickett, the show explores innovative and alternative ways of using these collections, which imagines and re-imagines the lives that were lived here before, their preoccupations, beliefs and ways of life.

We spoke to Janetka Platun, Pamela Abad and Harold Offeh, three of the artists featuring their work ahead of the show…

‘The Magic of London’, taken from the ‘Elephant Atlas’ exhibition

Janetka Platun

Janetka Platun is an artist who creates installations, sculptures and films after graduating from Camberwell College of Arts with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. Janetka’s art challenges orthodox ideas about people, places and the status quo by igniting dynamic creative intervention and deals with themes of belonging, transient concepts of home and how we deal with loss.

Janetka said: “My aim has been to create projects that pose questions about our existential and moral relationship to our surroundings. My art centers on everyday social situations that reveal complex stories. The themes that run through my work are our collective search for belonging, transient concepts of home and how we deal with loss.

“As a result of the devastating fire the Cuming Collection is currently hidden away in storage with no plans to re-house it. I think the show reminds us that the collection is unique, relevant and that it matters. The art created for the exhibition is a poignant evolution in the collections life and demonstrates new ways of seeing the past in the present and future.”

‘Object Action’, taken from the ‘Elephant Atlas’ exhibition

Harold Offeh

Harold Offeh is a practicing artist of nearly 20 years, using performance, video, photography and social arts practice to explore histories and archives.

Born in Ghana and brought up in London, Harold studied Critical Fine Art in Brighton and Photography at the Royal College of Art (RCA). Harold now teaches Fine Art at Leeds Beckett University and is a visiting lecturer at the RCA.

Harold said: “I’ve created a two-screen video work that sees a performer presenting a series of ceramic objects from the Cuming Museum Collection. I was interested in using the visual language of displaying and selling objects that you might see on a shopping channel to present these historical artefacts.

“The original collection, started by Richard and Henry Cuming in the 19th century, was motivated by an attempt to map, survey and capture the world through the acquistion of artefacts.” — Harold Offeh 

“I was particularly interested in how as a colonial subject myself, (I was born in Ghana, which until 1957 was the Gold Coast, a British colony), I might animate these objects, which like me are remnants of colonial history. The videos are meant to be a playful and camp attempt to exploring the value and impact of these objects.

“I think this exhibition is particularly important because it’s giving audiences an opportunity to engage with the Cuming Collection, which is mostly in storage. Inviting contemporary artists to work with the collection provides an opportunity to re-animate the artefacts and place the histories and narratives in a contemporary context.”

‘Hold Me Together’, taken from the ‘Elephant Atlas’ exhibition

Pamela Abad

Pamela Abad graduated from London College of Communication’s BA (Hons) Photography course 2017. Born and raised in Cuenca, a traditional city in the south of Ecuador, Pamela is interested in the traditions and peculiarities of this culture and explores these themes through her art practice.

Pamela said: “My work is a two video piece based on Edward Lovett’s book ‘Magic in Modern London’ published in 1925, the title of my piece is the same as his book. His book is a collection of superstitious beliefs which he gathered from people around London during 45 years.

“The film explores many of these beliefs through a conversation between the narrator, myself, and Lovett. This conversions occur in a little town of Ecuador called Tarqui, after I encounter a flowering tree called ‘Angel’s Trumpet’, which produces a trance-like state after inhaling its aroma.

“The result of this encounter allows me to communicate with Lovett, and to connect distant geographies and times—the superstitions of London’s past with the magical present of a small community in Ecuador, on which reality is woven with many superstitious beliefs and are very much alive and part of everyday life.

“I produced all the work in Ecuador, after adapting the book into a script I started to give a visual form to the narrative. The process was very experimental, I work chronologically, without knowing how the end result is going to be, this helps me keep things fresh.

The Cuming Museum holds the social history of Southwark, and since it has been closed to general visitors, this is an opportunity for local communities to get involved and to visit the show, there are also several activities for kids in the gallery.”

Join us at the Elephant Atlas launch night on Thursday 22 March or catch the exhibition running until Wednesday 4 April 2018.

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