Contemporary Art + Ritual

The Crypt Gallery's labyrinthine passageways are the setting for a multi-media art exhibition investigating ritual today.

at The Crypt Gallery

How does ritual manifest itself in today’s society? This is the question twelve artists explore in an experimental show Contemporary Art + Ritual at the Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church.

Encompassing sound, light, word via dust, wood, thread and more, the show reveals ritual to be an expression of human life that is undergoing a process of constant reinvention. The Crypt is a consecrated burial ground beneath St Pancras Church. Its atmospheric brick vaulted corridors will take the viewer on a journey through healing, wishing, weaving, walking, cleaning, carving, folding, painting. A giant gold chain fashioned from bread snakes across the floor of a dark vault, two spectral life-sized figures made of dust hang from the ceiling, a ghostly woman conjures magpies from nowhere; in another chamber metal boxes emit birdsong reminding us of the passage of daily life while round another corner hundreds of wishes are beamed out into the darkness.

Ritual can be a series of communal actions binding us together and promoting health. Elspeth Penfold who performs ritual walks says: ‘The act of walking and knotting ropes allows us to think about where we are now and how our world might be transformed.’ Similarly the ritual axe wielding and wood cutting of James S. Bond have healing powers and, as well as creating sculptures from wood, James runs axe working workshops with troubled young men. ‘My work has uncovered a practice that reaches back beyond our cultural differences to a time when all humans were present to the life of trees and how and why they applied certain methodologies with hand tools in working the wood from trees,’ he says. Zara Carpenter takes and transforms polaroids of her body. ‘I obsessively make and each process is part of a ritual; a repetitious act of exploration. I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder in my early 20s, over the years I have learnt to use my ritualistic behaviour to enhance my creative practice,’ she says.

The show is curated by artists Caro Williams and Deborah Burnstone.

Artists: Rosalind Barker, James S Bond, Deborah Burnstone, Zara Carpenter, Blandine Martin, Elspeth (Billie) Penfold, Zoe Simons-Walker, Hannah Stageman, Sally Tyrie, Nneka Uzoigwe, Jane Walker and Caro Williams

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Opening Times
Preview: Thursday 16 May, 6-9pm
16 - 21 May 2019
Daily, 10am-6pm

The Crypt Gallery
St Pancras Church. Euston Road