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Lila Wordsworth: The Untangling
6 September 2023 – 1 October 2023
Lila Wordsworth’s textile piece ‘The Untangling’ is a celebration of the profound impact the trawling ban is having on the Sussex seabed ecosystem. It is a tale of hope where the once shimmering kelp forests, formed of giant seaweed plants reaching up to 3m high, are starting to return to the area.
About the Exhibition
By the mid-1980s, 96% of the kelp forests in Sussex waters had disappeared. The trawling ban came about in March 2021 as part of coordinated efforts between local and national partners to create the ‘Help our Kelp’ campaign. Rather than replant baby kelp plants, the partners made the decision to leave the seabed to regenerate of its own accord through a hands-off process – an approach successfully implemented by local rewilding project Knepp.
The hand-sewn quilt in the window at ONCA is hand dyed with seaweed responsibly foraged from (and returned to) Brighton beach and features a poem written to celebrate the regeneration efforts. The work explores symbiotic relationships and questions the boundaries between human and non-human species. It draws parallels between the ways the capitalist system mines our ecosystems and exploits humans, where marginalised people are disproportionately harmed. ‘The Untangling’ calls for increased rest, both for the planet and for people.
‘The Untangling’ is viewable in the ONCA window gallery from 6 September to 1 October 2023.
About Lila Wordsworth
Lila Wordsworth is an interdisciplinary artist focused on salvaged beach materials such as seaweed, fishing line, rusted objects and plastic waste. She turns them into sculptures, textiles and cyanotype prints and photographs. Her work is expressive in style, embracing a contemporary aesthetic that combines both figurative and abstract elements. She is currently focused on exploring stories emerging from Brighton Beach as a liminal space where humans, technology and the vastness of the sea meet. The work she is making through this exploration is co-created by the sea itself, as it throws up gifts and garbage to tell its own tale.
Personal stories form a starting point in her work to expand into bigger questions about the nature of identity, love, bodies in their environment, memory, the boundaries of consciousness of humans and non-humans, environmental unrest, capitalist grind culture and the edges of birth and death. Growing up on a farm in France, Lila was surrounded by the natural and cultivated world, and was particularly marked by the beauty and darkness that she witnessed on a daily basis. The tension between the two is tangible in her work, where she continually questions her place in her environment. Her artistic influences include Louise Bourgeois, Yayoi Kusama, surrealism, Gees Bend quilters, Eva Hesse, Joel Peter Witkin and Eileen Agar.
A self-taught artist, Lila studied English and American Studies at the University of Sussex and worked as a secondary English teacher and later as an education officer before dedicating her time to her art practice. She has shown across the UK, including the Hastings Art Museum, Edinburgh & Oxford, and her work is in featured in international private collections. In 2023, She was awarded the Andrew Edney Bursary which supports Hampshire and Sussex artists developing their practice, enabling Wordsworth to work with Serpentine curator Lucia Pietroiusti. She lives and swims in Brighton, UK.
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