Tread Softly: An Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme exhibition

John Benton-Harris, Maidenhead, Berkshire July 1975, 1975
Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist
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Marion Coutts, For the Fallen (2001) Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist Image 2 of 5
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Edward Barber, One Parent Family, N London 1976 (1976), Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © Polytechnic of Central London Image 3 of 5
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Tracey Emin, Why I never became a dancer (1995), Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist Image 4 of 5
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Marketa Luskacova, Child in Chiswick Womens Aid, London, 1976 (1976), Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © MARKETA LUSKACOVA Image 5 of 5
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27.05.17 - 03.09.17
Bothy Gallery
Tread Softly presents works from the Arts Council Collection in which artists explore childhood experience and familial relationships, revisiting and reassessing pivotal moments and people within their lives.

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Many of the works within the exhibition exist in a place where fact and fiction blur and where fantasy melds with memory, affected by both time and distance. Negotiating and defining identity is a momentous journey, with early experiences leaving indelible marks on our characters, as fragile dreams are pitted against the sometimes painful ingress of the adult world.

Powerful works by Tracey Emin and Grayson Perry reveal how art was ultimately a salvation amidst difficult circumstances, Perry’s Mad Kid’s Bedroom Wall Pot stating “I got out ‘coz I could paint”. Other works consider the way in which fragments of experience linger in the memory, like a perfume that triggers highly personal reminiscences.

Photographs by Fiona Crisp and Nigel Shafran recall family caravan holidays at the seaside and present the emotionally charged everyday objects left in a room by a departed father. Mary Kelly’s iconic Post-Partum Document and Mona Hatoum’s Measures of Distance also scrutinise the parent-child relationship, bringing intensely private and quietly moving moments that are often unseen and take place silently in the home, into the public gaze.

Tread Softly also features new commission Shame Chorus (2017) by Jordan McKenzie, a work originally conceived as a live performance that explores memory, sexuality, community and catharsis though collective action and singing. Renowned psychoanalyst Dr Susie Orbach conducted interviews with members of the London Gay Men's Chorus, exploring early, formative experiences of shame and coming out. Giving voice to often-internalised feelings, their stories were then set to music by leading musicians and composers (Billy Bragg, Leo Chadburn, Shane Cullinan, David McAlmont, Verity Susman and Jack White) and words with narrative texts by London-based writer Andy White.
 
Other artists featured in the exhibition are Vanley Burke, Tarik Chawdry, Saad Qureshi, Kathy Prendergast, Marion Coutts, Susan Hiller, Permindar Kaur, Bedwyr Williams, Dennis Morris and Jo Spence.

Supported by