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Yorkshire-based artist Emii Alrai is selected for major new commission to go on display in 2022.

20 Oct 2021

iniva and The Hepworth Wakefield are working together on the second Future Collect, a programme devised to transform the future of public collections at major art galleries and museums throughout the UK to better reflect our culturally diverse society.

Artist Emii Alrai, who lives in Leeds and whose studio is in The Art House in Wakefield, has been selected to create a new commission that will join Wakefield’s art collection and be shown at the gallery from spring 2022.

Alrai’s work explores relationships and tensions within Western museum practice, and previous projects have investigated processes of displaying and valuing artefacts from the Middle East. Her practice has emerged from making objects mimicking these artefacts, transforming humble materials to question museological traditions and systems of display. Alrai was chosen owing to her sensitivity in navigating complex diasporic narratives combined with her evocative exploration of materials.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to develop my practice, expanding my current interest in museums and their collections. Through conversations with both iniva and The Hepworth Wakefield, I want to interrogate how we collect things. The opportunity to engage with The Hepworth Wakefield’s collection would be extremely beneficial to this work, particularly looking at the way in which Barbara Hepworth used materiality to explore the relationship of the geographic world through her forms. By spending time with The Hepworth’s collection and archive up close, I would hope to research and develop new methods of casting, and forming material to explore the complexities of the natural world.” – Emii Alrai

“I’m delighted that we have selected Emii Alrai for this commission, and look forward to seeing how her ideas evolve. I’m particularly excited by her proposed use of glass as a core material, as well as her focus on oral histories and processes of renewal and reframing both in relation to museums and the natural landscape.” – Rohini Malik Okon, Future Collect Curatorial Manager

“As an artist based in Wakefield, I have known of, and admired, Emii’s work for some time, not least due to the moving and complex public realm community project she initiated in Wakefield as a Yorkshire Sculpture International Engagement Artist in 2019. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to work closely with Emii, build on these conversations and see her sculptural practice develop. Her work will be a fantastic addition to the collection.” – Eleanor Clayton, Curator at The Hepworth Wakefield

A small display of Alrai’s sculptures and drawings is currently on display at iniva’s Stuart Hall Library, London until 10 December 2021. Organised by Future Collect Curatorial Trainee Amber Li, the display introduces the material processes involved in Alrai’s work and places her research-based pieces in dialogue with surrounding texts.

Amber Li is the Future Collect Curatorial Trainee at The Hepworth Wakefield and will support the development of the commission as well as the curation of the exhibition in spring 2022.

Future Collect is supported by the Art Fund, Arts Council England and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.