This exhibition draws on the promises and darkness of traditional fairy tales, the cultural references in popular children’s stories and contemporary views on individualism and “community”.
TRIBE emerged out of artist Sarah Cole working with eleven teenagers from the Young Women’s Group at Creative Arts & Music run by Southwark Youth Service in partnership with Groundwork London. Amunet, Anukis, Ismat, Jayne-Louise, Lindsay, Louise, Kirsty, Molly, Nadia, Petula and Ruby wanted to create a space in which to encounter their ideas of place, safety, language and disguise. Sarah brought her own “tribe” of artists to help produce the exhibition with the young women, including Talya Baldwin who drew the TRIBE title images.
Music plays out into Peckham Square and there is real grass on the floor of the gallery, bringing the outside environment into a secure, safe space. Visitors are invited to put on a onesie – the all-in-one body suits worn by people of all ages that became a fashion phenomenon in 2012 – and relax on bean bags and blankets to watch a Onesie Nation video. Composer Isa Suarez’s soundtracks of the eleven young women’s words and phrases are played through a Buckingham Palace audio sign designed and constructed by Alex Wilson.
The Onesie Nation videos, made with artist Annis Joslin and featuring the young women themselves, came out of discussions about their shared interest in the onesie. On their first meeting with Sarah, one of the young women commented that “you can’t terrorise someone in a onesie” and this idea of the all-in-one (and one for all) underscored the development of this work, raising issues of personal autonomy and group solidarity.
For those lucky enough to be allied temporarily to the young women’s TRIBE, there is free ice-cream from a van parked in Peckham Square. TRIBE offers a rare glimpse into the private space and sensibilities of this group, usually hidden from outsiders.