BearMotherHouse is a newly commissioned interactive installation by the artist collective Fourthland. The London-based artists, Louise Sayarer and Eva Knutsdotter, utilise their practice to facilitate encounters with people and communities, draw marginalised knowledge into the foreground and explore forgotten modes of social and environmental consciousness.
Fourthland have been collaborating with Xenia, a friendship and English language project for migrant and English-speaking women based in Hackney. Through art making, performative and storytelling workshops between Fourthland and Xenia, a tale has been woven, entitled BearMotherHouse, that tells of a mythical reality of matriarchal reign and domestic sustenance. The title BearMotherHouse draws on universal folk legend archetypes that appear across cultures in the form of bears, mothers and houses, but also refers to the pressing need in contemporary society for a sense of belonging and domestic security. The exhibition is a proposition for a way to forge community and new forms of domesticity through the aesthetics and poetics of the objects and stories within it, that act as both vessels for diverse traditions and prompts for future thoughts and actions.
Fourthland’s sculptures are at once familiar and strange, using common materials and processes, such as felting wool, moulding clay and melting wax. Accompanied by a sound piece and a scent work, the constructed environment of BearMotherHouse gives form to the myth; a narrative familiar to us through the fragments of stories we have inherited from generations past. To enter BearMotherHouse is to cross the threshold into a temporary, intimate world that has been created by Fourthland and the women of Xenia as a common space where all can belong.
Fourthland (Louise Sayarer and Eva Knutsdotter) is an artist collective that uses objects, ritual, storytelling and enactment to co-create public space and performances. Recent solo works include Permissible Notations of with Rosalind Fowler at PEER, London (2017); The Storm within Jeremy Deller’s Utopia Treasury, Somerset House, London (2016); back to where we have not quite been, Arnolfini, Bristol (2015); The Collective Tongue, Errant Bodies, Berlin; and everything happens on the street, PEER, London (2015). They have had recent residencies at CASS School of Art and Design, London (2016), Cabot Institute of Climate Change, Bristol (2015), and presented workshops at The Round Chapel, and Birckbeck, London (2016); Bergen Academy of Art, UCL Urban Lab, London and South London Gallery Local (2015). Fourthland also run a twice-yearly nomadic residency programme, yörük—a creative and holistic retreat co-hosted with different alternative communities around the world.
Xenia (based in Hackney, London) brings migrant, refugee, asylum-seeking and British women together for welcoming workshops that encourage English language practise and meaningful two-way social integration through creativity and friendship.
As part of a new approach to researching and developing knowledge, ideas and suggestions through art, Fourthland’s BearMotherHouse is linked to People Power#10: WE-Dom exhibition at SPACE.