Tall Tales - Freud Museum London, 15 April 2016 - 29 May 2016

Ruth Barker, Nicky Bird, Beth Collar, Alison Erika Forde, Sarah Forrest, Rachel Goodyear, Oona Grimes, Lila De Magalhaes, Laure Prouvost, and Ma Qiusha

Tall Tales is a national touring programme bringing together the work of 17 international women artists who employ the playful use of storytelling techniques in the making of their work.

Tall Tales - Freud Museum London, 15 April 2016 - 29 May 2016

Ruth Barker, Flash, courtesy the artist

Stories have been shared for centuries and across every culture as a means of entertainment, cultural preservation and education. The artists in Tall Tales use storytelling techniques to toy with our perception of myth, reality, the public and private, ideas on difference, as well as question our assumptions. Their works reveal uncanny scenarios, sometimes pointing to personal stories but more broadly, issues pertinent to society at large, and what we might call ‘the human experience’.

Nicky Bird, Gay Interest Beefcake, 2008 (Digital Version 2015), courtesy the artist

Tall Tales will feature new works and performance commissions by Ruth Barker and Beth Collar, developed following Tall Tales residencies in London and Glasgow in 2014.

In London Ruth Barker will present Glass, Blinded To The Room, a new video and installation work for Anna Freud’s desk, and a new performance commission, The Foot Exerts a Pressure On The Surface Of The Glass, to be staged in the Freud family dining room. Barker’s new performance will be a very contemporary take on an ancient oral tradition. Whilst speculating on the nature of memory, improvising questions and asking the audience to silently revisit their dreams, Barker will ask museum staff to select and insert objects from the Freud collection and archive into her performance, also encouraging audiences to offer spoken responses to her dreamlike calls.

Rachel Goodyear, A Humming in the ears, 2012, courtesy the artist

The Freud Museum will also play host to Tall Tales artists Nicky Bird, Beth Collar, Alison Erika Forde, Sarah Forrest, Rachel Goodyear, Oona Grimes, Lila De Magalhaes, Laure Prouvost, and Ma Qiusha, their works will be installed throughout the museum, many making playful appearances in key spaces including Sigmund and Anna’s Freud study’s.

Oona Grimes, Flan's Architectural Digest #9, 2015, courtesy the artist

Visitors to the museum will be able to spend time with Nicky Bird’s book works, including Tracing Echoes (2001), which is inspired by the haunting 19th Century portraits of young women and girls by Julia Margaret Cameron and sets out to trace the descendants of these sitters, taking the reader on a journey through genealogy, time, place and hidden histories.

Ma Qiusha, Two Years Younger than Me, 2011, courtesy the artist

Beth Collar will be showcasing work developed following her 2014 Tall Tales residency with Glasgow Women’s Library (GWL). Collar has been inspired by texts and ephemera held by GWL, and her new work explores the gender politics of the frown or the furrowed brow in contemporary imagery. Her research will manifest as sculptures of women’s faces frowning, and that take medieval, polychrome sculpture as their starting point.

Alison Erika Forde's wall based works will be on display at the Tavistock Clinic, whilst her sculptural works, including Shame Pole (as opposed to a totem pole), and inspired by traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America, and The Tower which explores themes of mortality and the cycle of life, will be installed at the Freud Museum.

Sarah Forrest’s practice explores the potential within language to shape her own and other people’s perception of things – a place, person, object or artwork. For Tall Tales, Forrest will be showing recently completed The Pot (2015), representing the artist’s urge to return to working with the sculptural form and the most basic of materials, clay.

Sarah Forrest, The Pot, 2015, Single Channel Video, courtesy the artist

Oona Grimes will be showing recent work that consists of large spray-painted drawings where highly coloured images play with the illusion of three-dimensionality, digital pixellation and surface against a field of deep black. This body of work began as a book of protective spells: a plundering of Swedenbourg, Flann O’Brien and The Egyptian Book of the Dead. Characters fence their way through an illusionistic portrayal of architecture and the creatures that haunt the facades and hoarding boards, the film & theatre flats. Clay Things are simple shapes which explore the most basic of ceramic processes that shown alongside the drawings are a celebration of the absurd and an ongoing series of parallel worlds.

Following her solo presentation at The Drawing Room New York in 2015/2016, Rachel Goodyear will show works across a range of media, including works on paper, animation and sculpture. Goodyear’s intricately rendered works explore the macabre undertones of human existence. Referencing nightmares, the human psyche and traditional folklore, her works capture unusual and psychotic scenarios. Fluctuating between the real and the imagined, her delicate creations probe the precarious line between what is possible and what is not.

Lila De Magalhaes is interested in perching on the unsteady cusp between desire and abject, instinct and composure, animal and human. Most recently she has made two mermaids out of clay resembling herself and her flat-mate. They sit together in a transient state, in a plastic bag filled with water. For Tall Tales, Lila will showcase this new work which is entitled Room Mates.

Tall Tales will tour Laure Prouvost’s Wantee Fountain, to Freud Museum London. The work is drawn from Prouvost’s work Wantee, a multi media installation based on her depiction of the feud between her fictional grandparents and their arguments over art and use - the grandmother tries to make the grandfather’s art into useful things. The title is drawn from Kurt Schwitters pet name for his tea obsessed partner who helped him with his work in the final phase of his life in the English Lake District.

As part of Tall Tales the museum will welcome Two Years Younger Than Me, a work by Ma Qiusha which represents the idiosyncratic habits of her late Grandfather, her relationship with him and to his habits. Having never felt particularly close to him or able to relate to him, it was after his passing that she discovered an intriguing box of belongings which helped her to consider him in a new light. The artist discovered a series of medicine bottles holding the shavings of her grandfather’s beard which he had, for some reason, felt compelled to collect in the later years of his life. Two Years Younger Than Me displays these bottles, each numbered and dated, documenting the passing of time over the collection period, and visually recording her grandfather’s ageing process as the collected hair slowly turns from black, to grey and then white.

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