Category: First Thursdays — Published:

It’s that time again! This month’s digital edition of First Thursdays welcomes Autograph, arebyte Gallery and the Making Space, each of which share a selection of new exhibitions, events and workshops for you to explore this summer.


Brian Searle, Unidentified Sitter, 2020. Courtesy Submit to Love Studios / Headway East London.© Submit to Love Studios/Headway East London.

Autograph Gallery

Sharif Persaud: Have You Ever Had 
23 June – 28 August 2021 / 23 June – 14 August 2021

Placing himself at the centre of his work, Sharif Persaud explores identity through his experience of contemporary life and autism. He is a part of the collective of neurodiverse artists and activists at Project Art Works, who have been shortlisted for the Turner Prize 2021.

Persaud is profoundly interested in his body in society as a site of investigation: sneezing, healthcare, hospitals, gangrene, cities, flats, benefits and his independence. Persaud questions his audience about their experiences and body – have you ever had? Have You Ever Had is Persaud’s first solo exhibition, featuring his drawings, large paintings and award-winning short film The Mask. The show also marks the culmination of the national EXPLORERS Project, highlighting the extraordinary contribution that neurodiverse people make to art and culture.


Sharif Persaud, Self Portrait, 2015, Acrylic on paper, 128 x 180 cm. Courtesy of Project Art Works. © Sharif Persaud.

Common Threads
23 June – 14 August 2021

Based in Hackney, Submit to Love Studios is home to a collective of self-taught artists. They have developed a set of unique practices and interests, refined over more than a decade. All of the artists have survived brain injuries – some use this to inform their work, while others take inspiration from the world around them.

The second exhibition presented by Autograph features new work by 23 Studio artists, using the gallery’s collection of photography as inspiration for textile works. Photographs charting the contribution of diverse cultures to Britain over two centuries have been reimagined by the Studio as elaborate embroideries, appliqué and fabric prints. The artists have also used the collection as inspiration for self-portraiture, reflecting on personal histories.

Here you’ll encounter works by Studio artists Tony Allen, Tony Brooks, Dolores Crump, Affiong Day, Errol Drysdal, Keith Emmanuel, Jason Ferry, Ken Hazeldine, Calvin Hill, Mike Hoyle, Sam Jevon, Sandra Lott, Theresa Malcolm, Billy Mann, Marcus Mann, Yoki Mekuria, Tirzah Mileham, Chris Miller, Brian Searle, Alex Sherlock, Trevor Small, Evaldas Sorocinskis, Diana Takyi, Mark Taylor and Cecil Waldron. Common Threads is also accompanied by a selection of portraits of the artists by photographer Leon Foggitt, and a short film by Posy Dixon.


Submit to Love Studios collaboration, The Couple, 2020. Courtesy Submit to Love Studios / Headway East London. © Submit to Love Studios / Headway East London.

arbyte Gallery

tender spots in hard code…
11 June – 24 July 2021

Exploring the role of care in society, this interactive exhibition uses ideas of play to deconstruct socio-political structures surrounding how we care for ourselves and one another. The gallery suggests that care and its labour have been systematically undervalued and constrained by the distribution and management of economic resources. Popular emphasis on care as an individual undertaking removes the necessity of interdependence and promotes self-care over communal care. tender spots in hard code… challenges this view and looks to an understanding of care as a collective activity, not only for others but with others.

At the centre of the exhibition, visitors are presented with a set of playing cards that have been re-imagined by artist Kate Frances Kingard and their collaborators. The images on the cards use metaphors of the body as portals to the digital commons, blockchain systems and the social relations formed within them. Visitors are invited to play either competitively or cooperatively, as both modes of engagement reveal various alternatives to the status quo and provide thought experiments for ways of thinking differently around relationships of people, object and ideology.

To celebrate their exhibition, the Kingard will be in conversation with Jazmin Morris and Alice Yuan Zhang on Thursday 17 June at 6pm BST. The conversations will explore the use of technology as a form of collective care that utilises purposeful online and offline connections as well as collaboration to nurture digital well-being. Book your tickets here.


Kate Frances Lingard, tender spots in hard code… at arebyte Gallery. Photo: Max Colson.

Kate Frances Lingard, tender spots in hard code… at arebyte Gallery. Photo: Max Colson.

Making Space/Fitzrovia Noir

Festival of Ideas: Creative Making Programme from Fitzrovia Noir
2 July – 18 July 2021

Matthew Kolakowski‘s installation, Walizka Mojego Taty [Daddy’s Suitcase], at Making Space reflects on the artist’s father’s experience as a Polish pilot who flew with the RAF. Here visitors can encounter a series of sculpted suitcases made from cardboard that was used in the packaging of Polish food and drink, creating a thread between today’s Polish immigrant communities in Britain and his father, a foreign national who arrived during the war and eventually became a naturalised citizen.

Alongside the exhibition, Making Space are offering a series of free creative workshops with cardboard. For those interested in making their own suitcase works, you can book for a course on Saturday 10th/Sunday 11th and Saturday 17th/Sunday 18th July from 11am-5pm. Simply register your interest by emailing fitzrovianoir@gmail.com and bring along a piece of sturdy cardboard.

In celebration of their 10th anniversary as a Community Interest Company this month, Fitzrovia Noir are also offering free glassblowing tuition by Jon Lewis and Tom Chadwin from 16-18 July. Book your place here to create a work that will go towards a large collaborative display.


Matthew Kolakowski, Walizka Mojego Taty [Daddy’s Suitcase] at Making Space/Fitzrovia Noir. Courtesy of the artist.

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.


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