These artworks are part of Ways of Seeing, a partnership between Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019 and the Government Art Collection. Ways of Seeing turns the borough into a gallery with 33 internationally renowned artists displayed in 28 unexpected locations.
Hew Locke - Serpent of the Nile (Sejant)
Hew Locke explores power and cultural identity in his work. This photograph is from a series called How Do You Want Me? (2007). The artist dressed up as sinister characters including corrupt kings and tyrants. Here, he is an empress. He wears a gown made from plastic flowers, baby dolls and tigers. Above him is a royal coat of arms.
Locke grew up in Guyana, South America, which was under British rule until 1966. As a child, he became interested in symbols of power, particularly the Queen’s image. His work explores the tension between contemporary Britain and its colonial past.
This colourful photograph uses parody as a way of inviting us to think. Do we get to choose our identity or do others choose it for us?
Hew Locke was born in Edinburgh and lived in Guyana from 1966 to 1980. He studied at Falmouth College of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. In 2015, he created The Jurors, a permanent artwork at Runnymede, near Windsor. It was commissioned by The National Trust and Surrey County Council to mark the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, the document that first enshrined human rights in law.
Stephen Selwyn - Pyramids (1985)
How many triangles does it take to make a pyramid? Stephen Selwyn explores this shape using different colours and patterns. Each area of the painting is like the surface of a gem. Together they make up a diamond. This kind of art is known as geometric abstraction.
Selwyn had the idea for Pyramids in the early 1980s, when he was artist in residence at St Charles Hospital, North Kensington. He created a triangle-based mural for the children’s ward and added real-life elements. He has done the same here.
In the 1970s, Stephen Selwyn worked as an assistant to Bridget Riley, one of the UK’s most famous abstract artists. She had a strong influence on him. He studied at the Chelsea College of Arts, London (1980-82) and taught colour theory at various London colleges. He moved to New York in 1986. Later in life, he worked as a furniture maker and an exhibition designer for galleries including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
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