Art of the modern world

At the Barnsley Civic this month the work of two artists with Yorkshire connections is on display in a show looking at aspects of contemporary life.

This month at the Barnsley Civic the work of two celebrated artists – Liz West and Sam Shendi – goes on display. What links them is their connection to Yorkshire and their bold use of colour in an exhibition in which they are exploring aspects of modern life and relationships.

West is an installation artist who spent her childhood in Barnsley, and now lives and works in Manchester. Over the last year, she has received critical acclaim for her work and has featured in publications such as Wallpaper, Aesthetica Magazine, Juxtapoz and The Guardian.

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West works across a variety of media, with her vivid environments and installations known for mixing luminous colour and radiant light. She aims to provoke a heightened sensory awareness in the viewer through her works and is interested in exploring how sensory phenomena can invoke psychological and physical responses that tap into our own deeply entrenched relationships to colour.

The show features key early photographic work of West’s in which she experimented with building collections of block colour in the supermarket, a 
place where colour is in abundance. The Trolley Series 2007-2011 comprises six photographs, in which the subject matter of shopping and consumerism is a framework in which to act out abstract concepts of aesthesia and control with a collection of coloured objects, referencing consumer society and disposable culture.

Also on display is the work of Egyptian born, Yorkshire-based sculptor Shendi who creates joyfully coloured abstractions of the human figure which hint at the complexity of human interactions. Shendi’s works reference Henry Moore and minimalism, focusing on the medium of steel, aluminium and paint.

Some of his works are deceptively simple in form but include the qualities of metaphorical associations, symbolism and suggestions of spiritual transcendence. He graduated in 1997 with a first class BA degree with honors from Helwen University of Fine Arts in Cairo. “I have followed Sam’s progress as an artist for nearly a decade now and it is my absolute delight to be able to exhibit his powerful new sculptures here at The Civic,” says assistant curator Jason White.

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Shendi’s works whittles down the human figure to its simplest form enabling the exploration of the idea of the human form as a vessel and thereby becomes centered on an emotion or an expression. This simplicity 
reveals a hidden truth and 
treads a fine line between representation and abstraction. His candy-coated palette animates the archetypal themes he addresses in his work.

In this exhibition Shendi analyses the age old subject Mother and Child juxtaposing cartoonish lemon, ultraviolet and pumpkin-coloured blocks, conjuring associations with children’s toys and industrial design and lending his pieces an emotive and playful quality.

Liz West’s The Trolley Series 2007-2011 and Sam Shendi’s Mother and Child are on display at The Civic, from December 3-January 28. Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm. Admission is free. For more information visit

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