Sunday, 16 June 2019


In the winter of 2018 I heard news of an event in Derby that potentially would be of interest to me. A friend via Facebook sent me the details and the title of the event certainly got my attention. Making a preliminary enquiry to confirm the date I soon found myself with an invitation to attend the latest free exhibition at ARTCORE.

ARTCORE is a visual arts charity that with a group of professional artists, works within the local communities having extensive links nationally and internationally. They perceive themselves as a cultural hub serving diverse needs and equally diverse communities.

The ARTCORE gallery is housed in a concrete municipal building on the edge of the city centre, situated in one of the less attractive streets in Derby. I used to work near this area and it is not a street that I would normally frequent after dark. So it was something of a surprise to find a culturally positive initiative based here, rather than the more pretentious parts of the city.

The Rituals and Rites exhibition aimed to explore how supernatural powers; their folklore and mythologies, influence and define what we can call 'Human Nature' in an increasingly globalised culture. The key categories or aspects of the diverse worlds of anthropology, witchcraft and shamanism were the basis of this initiative and more than two dozen artists addressed this subject.

Spread across two small galleries, the smaller room also served as a standing dining area, the exhibition had a certain intimate atmosphere. A larger area may have been more appropriate but such a need, would have to be balanced against the potential that some exhibits would have become lost.

As I entered the main gallery, I noted in particular the animal masks displayed upon the walls. They were well made, eye catching and so superbly suggestive of animistic rituals that I returned to them several times. Three mounted heads, a woman, a man and a rather gory skull, stood out in a distinctive and memorable manner.

The remaining exhibits were of an equally high standard and of the same remarkable variety. On display were reimagined tarot cards, poppets and depictions of the Hellenic Pantheon. The robes of the shamanka, with an assortment of related items were placed almost unobtrusively in a corner. Yet placed close enough to the wonderfully sculptured head of a woman already mentioned; so reminiscent of the Baba Yaga, that the potential links with Slavic mythology were unmistakable.

Two live performances took place that evening. The first required a masked singer to perform an evocative African song in front of a projected film. The second recital which took place in the smaller room, was an acoustic guitar  performance by a local musician.

Since I was fortunate to attend on the opening night, I was able to appreciate the level of support shown to this event. I was delighted to observe that the numbers attending were high, even though at times the exhibition was rather congested.

Amongst those supporting ARTCORE and the exhibition was the Right Worshipful, the Mayor of the City of Derby Councillor Mike Carr and Mrs Carr the Madame Mayoress. A charming couple whose presence added weight to a cultural gem that lies hidden in this city.

The Rituals and Rites Exhibition ran from Thursday the 13th of December 2018 to Thursday the 17th of January 2019 and the featured the work of the following artists; Abbie Sunter, Antoniett Sacco, Beth Bam, Conor Hurford, Christos Gkenoudis, Elizabeth Blades, Emma Brassington, Farida Makki, Frank Abbott, Ivilina Kouneva, Jenny Bramley, Jon Mayers, Joseph Goddard, Julie Clive, Karen Logan, Olivia Punnett, Tsogt Otgonbayar, Paul Dodgson, Ruth Calland, Sara Jayne Harris, Sarah Thomas, Sarah Victoria Spence, Szilvia Ponyiczki, Tal Regev, Tim Shore and Uriya Jurik.



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