The House of Penelope

Hello and happy new year! I'm kicking off 2017 with news from internationally renowned artist and friend Nancy Fouts who has an exciting new collaborative exhibition coming up in London.

The House of Penelope is the physical outcome of 18 months of regular meetings between The Modern Penelope Collective, a group of curators and artists based mainly in London. Ideas, practices, contacts, support, techniques and encouragement were shared between this band of creatives with a discourse on the myth of Penelope running through as a recurrent theme. 

Penelope is a mythological character from the Odyssey who has been an inspiration throughout time, known for her faithfulness and patience. Her story embodies concepts of waiting, longing and mourning, but the strongest element is her willpower which enabled her to resist against authority and protocol and allowed her independence through her intellect and her work. 

Penelope’s husband is lost to her for 20 years, it is unknown whether he is alive or dead whilst he travels the world facing hardships and adversities, trying desperately to make his way home again after the Trojan war. She is under pressure to marry one of her many suitors and she makes the promise to do so the day she finishes sewing her father-in-law’s shroud. She refuses to be a spectator to her own destiny and through her guile and ability, she chooses to stand against this condition. In a very subtle manner, she spends her nights undoing what she has been weaving throughout the day. Penelope has wit and refuses to be defeated. 

The curators of the project, Alix Janta-Polczynski and Lauren Jones, have requested that each of the artists that form part of the collective create a new installation in response to the rhetoric of the past 18 months. The majority of these works will have an evolutive aspect to them whereby the public are invited to watch the process of creation and in many cases, participate and contribute as well. 

Penelope’s myth also embraces all of the concepts developed by Homer in the Odyssey. These notions include travel, perseverance, the initiative journey, spiritual growth, home and family, deceptions of reality and comradeship amongst many others, these themes can be witnessed throughout the exhibition and in particular in the group show featuring relevant works by artists selected by the collective. 

The Modern Penelope Collective
Becky Allen
Charlotte Colbert
Adeline de Monseignat
Camilla Emson
Nancy Fouts
Eloïse van der Heyden
Participating artists to The House of Penelope
Alice Anderson
Miriam Austin
Bea Bonafini
Inès de Bordas
Soojin Kang
Radhika Khimji
Romana Londi
Mariana Mauricio
Walter and Zoniel

Gallery 46,
46 Ashfield St, London, E1 2AJ
7th Jan- 4/8pm: Opening party
20th Jan- 6/9pm Closing party
RSVP absolutely essential to
8th - 20th Jan / open daily / noon - 6pm
To view the full list of accompanying events and to book your place,  
check our website:

Nancy Fouts - inspiration & surrealism

I had the pleasure of meeting modern-day surrealist Nancy Fouts recently and the privilege of visiting her London studio (see gallery below). She truly is an inspirational person and her art encapsulates a genius that's rarely found these days.

Her work frequently explore themes of time, religious iconography, nature and humour. Typically working with everyday objects, injecting them with unique wit and manipulating them. Born in America, Nancy has lived most of her life in the UK, graduating from Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art in the 1960s.

Sir Peter Blake said, "I love the work of Nancy Fouts, she makes the everyday object extraordinary".

In the 1960s Fouts co-founded the pioneering design and model-making company Shirt Sleeve Studio, creating ad campaigns for the Tate Gallery and album covers for significant bands including Jethro Tull and Steeleye Span. Examples of her works are to be found in private homes and established collections across the globe, including that of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Her work has been exhibited alongside the likes of Damien Hirst, and praised by Banksy. In an interview with The Independent she said: "My father was a beachcomber. He used to find driftwood and drag it back and say 'Look you see these charging horses?' So my inspiration came from there - that and his way of talking. He'd say: 'That kid's legs are short, but they're reaching the ground'. You see how that's Surrealist? Then kids and the beautiful things they say. They have a fresh way of looking at things. So I try to be naïve all the time. While being sophisticated at the same time, of course."

I recently had the honour of exhibiting my taxidermy assemblage piece 'Remembrance' alongside Nancy Fouts' work at the Contemporary Vanitas exhibition curated by Lee Sharrock and Hamish Jenkinson at the Lights of Soho gallery.

You can see a selection of Nancy's recent work in the gallery below, and she is exhibiting in the 'Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick' show at Somerset House in London alongside Polly Morgan, Sarah Lucas, Haroon Mirza & Anish Kapoor, Joseph Kosuth, Nathan Coley and many others until August 24th.

Lights of Soho exhibition now open

I went to the packed private view last night for the 'Contemporary Vanitas' exhibition curated by Saatchi's Lee Sharrock at the cool Lights of Soho, London's first light art gallery.

I've created a new taxidermy assemblage piece called 'Remembrance' for the show's theme of 'memento mori', and it's on display with a stunning array of work from some of the UK's leading contemporary artists from now until June 25th - 10am to 6pm Monday to Saturday. Do check it out if you can; the Lights of Soho Gallery is at 35 Brewer Street, London W1 0RX.

It was good to to talk to Lee about her show, and meet fellow artists like Jimmy Galvin - his piece 'Death Disco' is in the front window of the gallery.

The gallery is set over two floors with a basement that feels like a 1960s jazz club, and there was a real buzz about the place, with the cocktails flowing and photographers snapping away as everyone checked out the art and chatted to friends old and new. Social media has been in full flow (#contemporaryvanitas) and the exhibition is getting some great coverage.

Artists exhibiting alongside me are: Alexander James, Alt-Ego, Derrick Santini, Hannah Matthews, Jeroen Gordijn, Jimmy Galvin, Kalliopi Lemos, Lauren Baker, Nancy Fouts, Pure Evil, Rebecca Mason, Sara Pope, Soozy Lipsey, Tom Lewis and Toni Gallagher.