Ahead of Spike Island’s brilliant annual Open Studios event (May 3-6), we’re interviewing a series of artists based in the building who’ll be involved with the Open weekend.
We begin with Stacey Olika, who is co-curating a new exhibition in the Test Space at Spike Island, alongside artist Anika Deb. Launching alongside the Open Studios weekend on Friday 3 May (6-9pm), Why Are We Not Here?, explores issues of institutional racism and marginalised representation in arts institutions.
Taking place during the busiest event in Spike Island’s year, where upwards of seven thousand people will visit the space over the early May Bank Holiday Weekend, Why Are We Not Here? will show work by seven artists working with sound, installation, print, poetry and painting mediums, including a programme of talks and workshops that will further question the complacency of arts institutions.
You can find some examples of Stacey’s own work here.
Here’s Stacey to tell us more.
Tell us about your art: your inspirations, preoccupations, the material you like to work with, any influences from the art world and beyond.
I currently work as the programme support assistant for the UWE Graphic Design course at UWE Bristol. I am also a Rising Arts Agency featured artist and currently co-curating for Test Space at Spike Island. I’m a graphic designer and creative director: my work mainly consists of digital illustrations from the perspective of black people. My inspiration comes from growing up as a black female in different cultural environments and learning to love the colour of my skin, despite the media’s excluding portrayal of those with African heritage.
Tell us what Spike Island means to you as a place to work, connect, socialise, be inspired…
Honestly I wasn’t sure if I fitted into Spike Island as I grew up unaware of artistic spaces. However working with Rising Arts Agency, it opened up Spike Island as an accessible space and I’ve been able to interact with new artists and feel inspired as well as getting support in my creative practice.
What are your hopes for the exhibition?
This exhibition means representation and taking up space that we are due. To encourage communities that the art is accessible to them as well as young creatives. It may call out institutions, but what we want is accountability and a way to move forward.
Why Are We Not Here? launches at Test Space, Spike Island alongside the Open Studios weekend (Fri May 3, 6-9pm) and continues until May 12. For more info, visit www.spikeisland.org.uk/programme/test-space/why-are-we-not-here
Stacey Olika pic by Nicole Benewaah Gehle