Harnessing the power of storytelling in east London exhibition

Still from The Present Tense

Still from The Present Tense - Credit: Archant

Artist Edward Thomasson unveils his first solo exhibition at the Chisenhale Gallery this month and premieres his video The Present Tense.

The film brings together three stories exploring how distance and proximity affect our understanding of each other. The episode of a woman observing her grazed skin healing is set against the larger transformations in her life, while a therapist uses sandplay therapy to mobilise communication with a young client.

In another thread, police officers stage a performance for a group of teenagers.

Set on and around a building site, the cycle of demolition and construction acts as a metaphor for the regeneration of the characters.

Thomasson said the video culminated from ideas he explored with a group during his residency at the gallery in Chisenhale Road, Bow.


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He said: “We developed a play, which was initially about gossip, to explore how storytelling is used to understand each other and how it can be harnessed as a way to reimagine yourself.

“From the play, we, as a group, set about thinking how to extend these ideas into a film.

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“We had a discussion and I went away and wrote a short story to continue the ideas.

“I wanted to explore engagement and how storytelling was happening in the street and think about that in relation to the regenerating landscape in east London.”

Thomasson’s part-time workplace also acted as hotbed of ideas.

He said: “I work in a therapy centre as a receptionist in the evening and I suppose it was a catalyst for the project.

“I film all my work there and a lot of the conversations I have with people I work with there are around therapeutic strategies.”

Thomasson added that the act of storytelling could be used within therapy institutions culturally, which inspired him, as well as the idea of creating something as a collective.

The Present Tense runs until August 29 with a series of companion events starting on Saturday.

Admission is free but booking is advised.

For more information, visit chisenhale.org.uk.

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