Corporate patronage of the arts comes this week in the form of
Clifford Chance, a New York firm of Lawyers who host a group show
of 28 artists for the Annual Pride Art Exhibition. Organised by
Arcus, an LGBT and allies employee network, the show is curated by
multi-media artist Michael Petry.
This year's London exhibition, entitled 'A Question of Sport: LGBT
artists and their relationship to inclusivity' features a diverse
mix of abstract, conceptual and figurative works and in many media
(video, photography, painting and sculpture) that convey each
artists' interpretation of a sportsperson they admire, or created a
work that dealt with sport in some way.
The exhibition space is on a vertigo-inducing 30th floor at their
London offices in the hyper real environment of Canary Wharf. An
unusual setting - as it is very corporate - public access to the
show is on Fridays by appointment only. Once you get through
security scanners you are then "escorted" to the space to view the
show. I attended the artists talk hosted by the curator with
a selection of the artists, who individually spoke about their work
and gave their personal insights into the conception process.
Having a strong background in sport both academically and
professionally myself I have now changed direction and am currently
working as a freelance arts consultant, so I was pretty intrigued
how such a broad subject would be tackled in an art context.
Also, taking into account taboos about gender and sexuality
within specific sports such as athletics, football and rugby
sporting cultures, regarding issues of femininity/masculinity and
what is at stake when an individual falls outside the box.
Taking these serious issues into account, I had an expectation
that the works would confront those ideologies in place, which some
did. The gold medal goes to Sadie Lee's figurative oil painting of
intersex runner Stella Walsh (pictured). Born Stanislawa
Walasiewicz, Stella Walsh was a Polish-born athlete who became a
women's Olympic champion in 1932. In 1980 at the age of 69, she was
an innocent bystander in an armed robbery and was killed by a stray
bullet. Autopsy tests discovered that she had two sets of
chromosomes, XX and XY, an Intersex condition known as 'Mosaicism'.
It has been suggested that rather than giving her an unfair
advantage competing against XX female athletes, it is possible that
her body was able to produce less natural testosterone than XX
females which would have put her at a disadvantage
Lee's art practice centres around gender and sexuality and
ageing issues and her paintings are usually photo-realist
portraits, but after coming across press cuttings of her subject,
Lee had to change her process to copying into an oil painting to
produce a faithful replica of athlete.
Silver goes to Annie Attridge's porcelain piece "Adams Apple"
2012, which references black South African athlete Caster Semenye,
whose gender was questioned because of her "manly appearance" and
her clearly visible physical strength, which became the subject of
an official enquiry.
Bronze to Sunil Gupta's photograph, of Indian gay activist/lawyer
Gautam Bhan, who has competed in the Gay Games as an amateur
athlete. Bhan is currently fighting to bring change to India's
the runners up showed sport as abstract metaphors, which tackled
the fear of participation at school level; an architectural
reference to Tom Daley in the form of the diving platform;
sculptural forms of favourite sporting heroes and inclusivity of
Paralympic athletes and heroes.
The subject did veer off in places and the male gaze of desire
changed the course somewhat, but considering the amount of artists
the space was used effectively and you get a postcard view thrown
Artists: Kerry Andrews; Paul Ashurst; Annie Attridge; James M
Barrett; Stav B; Guy Burch; Nigel Cox; Roberto Ekholm; Simon
English; Robin Forster; Sunil Gupta; Martin Gustavsson; Asa
Johannesson; Sadie Lee; Alana Luke; Stuart Mayes; Matthew Miles;
Gary Parsons; Michael Petry; Louise Plant; Anja Priska; Ryan
Riddington; Andrew Salgado; Cathy Stocker; Robert Taylor; Klaus
Wehner; Kraig Wilson; Konrad Wyrebrek.
The exhibition continues until 20 July and is open by appointment
on Fridays between 12:00 - 18:00, contact Nigel Frank on 020 7006
5384 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Clifford Chance LLP
10 Upper Bank Street
London E14 5JJ
For further info about artists contact Michael Petry email@example.com