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Black (re) turn

Jade de Montserrat

Across 2022/23, Art Licks invited the Scarborough-based artist Jade de Montserrat to work from Cow Syke: Art Licks’ residency and project space on the North York Moors. The focus of this time was in the development of a new work: Black (re) turn, which was performed by the artist in private in one of the barns at Cow Syke with technical and editing support from the filmmakers Webb-Ellis. 

Black (re) turn will be presented at de Montserrat’s upcoming solo exhibition, Soul of Fire at the Old Parcel’s Office, Scarborough* alongside two other film works and drawings. Together, the films make a Trilogy that explore the connection between theory and practice, particularly thinking through de Montserrat’s drawing and performance work with charcoal as a vehicle for considering intersections of race, climate change, landscapes, and history.

The charcoal installation itself remains at Cow Syke, living alongside the weather that rushes through the barn, the visiting nesting swallows, and the lapses of time between past custodians and new.

De Montserrat’s project at Cow Syke was recently described in George Vasey’s text, Surveying Bransdale: The Home as a Curatorial Method:

“[A] freighted relationship between land and body is continued in Jade de Montserrat’s work. De Montserrat has developed a performance in one of Cow Syke’s barns, encompassing the naked artist drawing onto the walls with charcoal until the walls are blackened. The artist performs alone in front of a camera, documented for later display. The use of charcoal, applied directly onto gallery walls, is a recurrent motif in de Montserrat’s work. As the black charcoal dust merges with the artist’s Black skin, the work becomes sedimented with multiple metaphors. Is the work a covering or a revelation? Is the act of drawing meditative or something to be endured? The artist claims the space, calling attention to her own labour as well as the material labour involved in the production of the charcoal. Blackness is formal and constructed; the work merging themes of race, labour and the land.” - George Vasey, 2023, Art Licks’ 2022 Writer In Residence

De Montserrat's project at Cow Syke was supported by Arts Council England funding.

Dr. Jade de Montserrat (b. 1981) was the recipient of the Stuart Hall Foundation Scholarship supporting her PhD and the development of her work from her Black diasporic perspective in the North of England. She is a tutor at Oxford University, Ruskin School of Art and an Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

* Soul of Fire is open at The Old Parcel’s Office 27 May – Sunday 11 June 2023; Thursday to Sunday, 11am-4pm.

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