Back from the Front: Shock and Awe. Contemporary Artists at War and Peace

Exhibition  /  19 Jul 2014  -  21 Sep 2014
Published: 17.07.2014
Royal West of England Academy
Professor Paul Gough
Tim Shaw RA. : Casting a Dark Democracy, 2008. Steel, black polythene, oil and sand. Tim Shaw, RASteel, black polythene, oil and sand. Tim Shaw RA
: Casting a Dark Democracy, 2008
Steel, black polythene, oil and sand

Tim Shaw, RA
Steel, black polythene, oil and sand

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‘Shock and Awe’ is an exhibition of work by contemporary artists recently exposed to the front-line of war in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. It is also a platform for artists who are fascinated by acts of remembrance, who use their art as a warning, as a form of protest at the wickedness of the world.

Artist list

Stephen Bottomley, Michael Brennan-Wood, Kathleen Browne, Helen Carnac, George Coutouvidis, Susan Cross, Bettina Dittlmann, Tamar de Vries Winter, Robert Ebendorf, Kirsten Haydon, Rolf Lindner, Elizabeth Turrell, Jessica Turrell, Jonathan Ward
‘The making of badges, medals and regalia, gives artists a means of portable communication: including subversive messages, pleas for peace, and satirical images’.
Elizabeth Turrell, RWA

Curator Elizabeth Turrell has brought invited artists, designers, jewellers and makers together. The contributors are international, with representation from the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, and Israel. These artists work in a variety of media, including vitreous enamel, metal and textile. Turrell has been collaborating with majority of the exhibitors for over a decade.

For the artists, this was an opportunity to address the profound influence of remembrance and conflict through the making of a range of work that encourages narrative and remembrance.

The works take the form of badges or medals, wall panels and small installations that are effective methods of silent communication. The pieces examine powerful themes of war and conflict: some are political or anti-war statements others are peace medals. The artists addressed a range of conflicts: the human cost of contemporary conflict is the subject matter of a number of the pieces, while others commemorate more personal family wartime history.

The collection includes many new works, created especially for this exhibition marking the centenary of the start of the First World War.