Category: First Thursdays — Published:

Happy First Thursday everyone!

This August we’re partnering with a few neighbouring galleries who haven’t featured on the Blog in some time. Nunnery Gallery, SCAN Projects and PEER excitingly share solo shows, group exhibitions and audio-visual installations, now all in one place.

Links to find out more about each collaborating gallery can be found below. As ever, feel free to chat with a member of our Visitor Services team if you’re looking for a local recommendation after a visit to Whitechapel Gallery!

Installation view of Enni Kukka-Tuomala: Is there space for empathy? Photo: Rob Harris.

Nunnery Gallery

Enni Kukka-Tuomala: Is there space for empathy?
Closes 8 August 2021

For this edition of First Thursdays, the Nunnery Gallery presents the first UK solo exhibition by the Finnish artist Enni-Kukka Tuomala, whose work explores the transformation of empathy from an individual feeling to a collective and radical power.

Throughout the exhibition, Tuomala examines what empathy means in 2021, in a post-Brexit, post-Covid, post-colonial Britain. She looks at what role empathy can play in helping us re-enter public life and re-discover physical closeness with each other once again. Her installation makes empathy – an often abstract and intangible feeling – into a physical and tangible form we can see, feel and enter, and asks: Is there space left for empathy? Can we re-learn to be physically close? What lives in the invisible spaces between us? How could we practice being together? What will it take to make us feel safe with each other again?

For years Tuomala has been exploring the spaces between people: investigating the public, social, personal and intimate distances between us and how they influence our abilities to meaningfully connect with one another. In trying to understand why the unoccupied space between us is primarily defined as ‘negative space’, the artist hopes to reframe how we occupy and share space in a positive light.

Installation view of Enni Kukka-Tuomala: Is there space for empathy? Photo: Rob Harris.

SCAN Projects

Roberto Urbanop: Anatomy of a Shipwreck
Closes 14 August

Anatomy of a Shipwreck at SCAN Projects is artist Roberto Urbano‘s first solo show in the UK. The exhibition comprises various sculptural installations in which the artist evokes elements of the maritime space, such as the hull of a boat or nautical charts, pieces that constitute metaphors for failure and repair.

This project finds its origins in the Gibson family’s photographic archive of shipwrecks recorded off the coast of Cornwall. In these images, Urbano finds an unbridled poetry that illustrates human conditions of drifting, loss, destruction and repair. He explores the architecture of ships, the mystery of nautical charts and sea-faring mythologies like the voyage of Jason and the Argonauts, a journey plagued by storms and difficulties in search of ‘the Golden Fleece’.

Roberto Urbano’s installation reminds us that humanity will inevitably be defeated countless times, but in the wreckage of the ruins, we always find the foundations for new life.

Installation view of Roberto Urbanop: Anatomy of a Shipwreck. Courtesy of SCAN Projects.

Installation view of Roberto Urbanop: Anatomy of a Shipwreck. Courtesy of SCAN Projects.


Swirl of Words / Swirl of Worlds
Exhibition closes 14 August
LIVE event 3 August, 6pm

This month PEER and Shoreditch Library present Swirl of Words / Swirl of Worlds, a group exhibition and programme of live and online events, which arc across and intersect visual arts with the spoken and printed poetry. The ambitious project considers the relationship, both expansively and intimately, between language and cultural identity, exploring the ‘hidden mother tongues’ that exist within communities, notions of endangered or suppressed languages and non-verbal communication.

At the heart of the exhibition stands three film installations by Madiha Aijaz, Susan Hiller and Zineb Sedira, who are surrounded by an array of different artists’ work, many of whom have past connections with PEER as previous exhibitors or as part of the wider artistic community.

Alongside the show, PEER has been working with poet, translator and language activist Stephen Watts to produce a book of 116 poems from 94 languages, 3,000 copies of which are being distributed for free to Hackney Library users. A live Zoom event also accompanies the exhibition titled WORD/IMAGE/ACTION Part 2. The group discussion is free, but booking is required here.

Madiha Aijaz, These Silence Are All The Words, 2017 – 2018, Film still, HD video, 15 mins. Courtesy of the artist’s estate.

Swirl of Words / Swirl of Worlds, installation image of group exhibition at PEER and Shoreditch Library. Image Credit: Stephen White & Co, Courtesy of: PEER, London.

On the first Thursday of every month, over 150 galleries in East London come together and run free events, exhibitions, talks and private views during a special late opening or online celebration. Find out more about First Thursdays here.