Pie Herring at 94–96 Wigmore Street
Pie Herring’s debut London solo show, ‘Fortitude’, documents the international effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the importance of thinking beyond boundaries
Pie Herring has appeared to great success in group shows in London, Edinburgh and even New York, where she was awarded second place in the Women United Art Prize. ‘Fortitude’, open until the 23rd of December at 94–96 Wigmore Street, marks her first ever solo show in London. It is also her first entirely self-initiated exhibition project, something which she says she has found a huge learning experience in regard to creating, organising and hanging an exhibition, as well as an important opportunity when so many arts spaces and early career artists have struggled to exhibit over the last year.
The pandemic has been difficult for everyone. While much of the news in the UK has been dominated by the ups and downs of WFH life, during the pandemic, Pie Herring was offered the opportunity to travel out to Kenya to experience life with the communities at the Lewa Wildlife conservation park. WFH was not an option for these rural communities, whose income relies largely on a tourism industry which still has not recovered — and may not for a while as the new Omicron variant continues to spread.
The images that Pie has created from her time in Kenya are very moving. Some people she has portrayed very traditionally, wearing the local clothing and undertaking traditional tasks, like beadmaking or taking care of livestock as a shepherd boy. The image of the shepherd boy, ‘Loikwa’ demonstrates how the pandemic brought an older way of life back to the forefront for many. Loikwa has his ipad case sandwiched away at his side — the phenomenon of online schooling phenomenon has crossed oceans alongside the pandemic.
The second series on show are notably muted in comparison to the burnt oranges and coppers of the Kenyan images — fitting, given that Herring created them upon her return from Kenya to a more hivernal London. Inspired by the footage of protests, memorials and vigils which dominated the media and our daily lives, these images creep beyond the canvas — in ‘Drip’ (2021) the painting slides off onto the frame that surrounds the image, and in ‘Rewilder’ (2021), a council worker enters stage right, his bin appearing in front of the frame as if he is entering the painting to clean it up before our eyes — an essential worker whose job doesn’t end even as London is emptying of people and nature is creeping back in.
‘Fortitude’ is open at 94–96 Wigmore Street with an extended run to the 23rd of December. To find out more about the exhibition and Pie Herring, click here.