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Shenece Oretha's exhibition exploring the relationship between sculpture and sound opens at The Hepworth Wakefield

27 Oct 2023

Shenece Oretha: TOLLED Listening With/in Wakefield's Sculpture Collection is now open at The Hepworth Wakefield.

The exhibition explores the relationship between sculpture and sound in modern British art, devised by multidisciplinary artist Shenece Oretha. The exhibition is the culmination of a 15-month residency with the gallery as part of the 20/20 project, led by the UAL Decolonising Arts Institute and supported by funding from Arts Council England, the Freelands Foundation and University of the Arts London. It features specially commissioned sound sculptures made by Oretha.

During the residency, Oretha researched how artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore engaged with music, musical instruments and ideas that have a ‘sonic resonance’ in their work.  Inspired by Hepworth’s comment, ‘I know what is happening not by what I see, but by what I hear’, Oretha listened to and recorded sounds from sculptures in Wakefield’s art collection. Using sensitive surface microphones, Oretha was able to record even the lightest interaction between her hands or a padded tool and the sculptures, resulting in an extraordinary range of sounds that feature in her new composition. The multi-channel sound composition is be played through several specially devised speaker-sculptures, arranged amongst the works of art that inspired them.

The exhibition is split into three sections relating to structures commonly found in music – Introduction, Bridge and Chorus.

The introduction looks at the way Hepworth and Moore were inspired to make abstract sculpture based on ancient museum artefacts such as masks, instruments and tools that may once have been used in sound-based practices. On display are ethnographic objects from Hepworth’s own private collection and non-British sculptures from Wakefield’s art collection by unrecorded makers. They refer to the often-unknowable journey of artefacts across time, people and places.

The bridge is a musical passage that connects two sections of a song. Displayed in this section is figurative and totemic sculptures that respond to forms in the introduction, highlighting connections between cultures. The sculptures also relate to gatherings and ceremonies, inviting the audience to listen to and imagine the interactions between the individual works.

The project is part of 20/20 – a large-scale commissioning initiative led by University of the Arts London Decolonising Arts Institute. The initiative supports residencies for twenty emerging ethnically diverse artists of colour at twenty public art collections, leading to acquisitions for public collections and an online group exhibition.

Shenece Oretha

Shenece Oretha was born in Monserrat in the Caribbean and now lives and works in London. Oretha’s work explores the act of listening and embodies the potential of sound to create sculptures, multi-channel installations, poetry and print. Oretha graduated in Fine Art at the Slade School of Art in 2018 and has had work exhibited at South London Gallery, Jerwood Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art. Oretha is a resident at Somerset House Studios.