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THIS IS NOT A PIPE: A celebration and criticism of art interpretation

Saturday 2 July, 10am - 5pm

On Saturday 2 July, Mianam Bashir and Emma Powell will present a Dada-inspired intervention at The Hepworth Wakefield as part of We Are Invisible We Are Visible (WAIWAV).

Bashir and Powell’s work reflects on the language that is used in exhibition labels and interpretation texts, which can often acts as a barrier, using unnecessarily complex words and phrasing, or unfamiliar and archaic terminology. Added to this, the sometimes extraordinary claims made about the meaning of artwork can add to an impression of “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. Yet labels can show the beauty of carefully composed language and present us with new concepts and ideas when we remain curious.

The title of this series of subtle interventions, THIS IS NOT A PIPE, is taken from a 1929 painting by Surrealist René Magritte called The Treachery of Images. The painting depicts a large image of a pipe, with the words; “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (This is not a pipe) painted underneath. Like the painting, Bashir and Powell’s interventions will explore how meaning can be created through the interplay between visual and written language, in a variety of unexpected ways across the gallery.

We Are Invisible We Are Visible

To mark the 102nd anniversary of the 1st Dada International Exhibition in Berlin, 31 d/Deaf, Disabled and Neurodivergent artists will stage Dada-inspired interventions in 30 museums and galleries across Britain and Northern Ireland on the same day on​​​​​​​ 2 July 2022.

The interventions cover a wide range including performative; time based; ephemeral; quirky; unusual; minimal; solo/duo/group; digital and much more.

The project asks the question – What if the Dada movement had started in 2020 in lockdown? What would they have done? Is now a timely moment to resurrect the spirit and essence of Dada?

We Are Invisible We Are Visible (WAIWAV) is presented by DASH, the disabled led visual arts organisation, and was awarded the 2021 Ampersand Prize.


Mianam Bashir and Emma Powell, THIS IS NOT A PIPE, 2022

About the artists

Mianam Bashir
(artist pseudonym for Yasmin Canvin)

As a curator with a Pakistani/German/British heritage, Yasmin Canvin has sought to make meaningful connections between artists and audiences, presenting work by artists from different cultural and international perspectives who explore social and environmental issues. As well as developing group shows for many galleries, such as Angel Row, Bury St Edmunds, Oriel Davis, Dundee Museum and Art Gallery and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Art, she has curated exhibitions and projects in response to a range of contexts, including commissioning new work to be inserted within the fine art and historical collections of Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery and throughout the grounds; presenting sculptures, installations, sound work and films in Fermyn Woods, Barnwell and East Carlton Country Parks; and commissioning live art performances, installations and artists in residence at the Corby Cube and the National Trust’s Lyveden New Bield

As the artist Mianam Bashir, she continues to respond to context, working in harmony with artist Alan Kane’s statement that “Context is everything”. During her time as the Director of Leicester Print Workshop, Bashir was exposed to the possibilities of printmaking, and through a DYCP grant from Arts Council, England in 2020, she was able to deepen her understanding of print, its history and techniques to develop her own practice. Bashir has connected her personal experience of language, being diagnosed as Autistic late in life, with the artform of letterpress, to celebrate and critique the language of contemporary art interpretation.

Dr Emma Powell

Emma is a printmaker and bookmaker – specialising in experimental books, letterpress, screenprinting and paper crafts. Emma is also a Visual Communications Programme Tutor at The Open College of the Arts and has a PhD and MA in Sustainable Design. Emma has worked in H.E for over 30 years and recently left her position running Year 3 BA Graphics and Illustration at De Montfort University to focus more on printmaking and online / distance-learning teaching.

Emma is the co-founder and co-curator of ‘we love your books’ that ran fourteen themed, experimental book-arts exhibitions (2005–2018). These exhibitions can be seen here where the work of hundreds of national and international creative book artists is displayed.

Emma has exhibited work locally, regionally and internationally. Emma has also recently run letterpress projects in conjunction with letterpress designer Sat Kalsi. These have involved The Rt Hon Stuart Lawrence, The Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, Leicester Print Workshop and De Montfort University BA Graphic Design and Illustration students. These projects promoted Stephen Lawrence Day in 2019, 2020 and 2021.