In celebration of Cob’s ten-year anniversary, we launched a new artist residency programme, set within bespoke onsite artist studios. Cob pledges to support artists at the very beginning of their career by providing studio space in the heart of London, artistic support, and a final exhibition. We have worked with architects Studio Mash and build-team Joseph Bond Studios to remodel a portion of the building into functioning artist studios, to accommodate a full-time residency programme.
PLOP will host five month-long residency programmes from August 2021 to February 2022.
PLOP Residency was founded by artist Oli Epp and curator Aindrea Emelife in 2019. PLOP is a residency run by artists for artists and has provided free artist studios, mentorship and industry visits to 48 artists from over four continents. The artists that took part in PLOP created communities where ideas, thoughts and opinions could be freely shared. Previous artists who have taken part in the residency include: Sarah Slappey, Andrew Pierre Hart, Stine Deja, Hunter Potter and Cathrin Hoffmann. They have gone on to have international and solo exhibitions, and forged long-standing communities that cross continents.
Desire Rebecca Moheb-Zandi
Desire Rebecca Moheb-Zandi integrates personal history and cultural identity in her large-scale, sculptural tapestries. Drawing from memories of her childhood in Turkey, where she passed hours watching her grandmother weave on a loom, Moheb-Zandi meshes traditional techniques with modern motifs and media. In addition to including rubber tubing, acrylic dowels and synthetic netting in her work, Moheb-Zandi fashions the loom as a sort of analogue computer, where the code is her pattern, and her manipulation of the pattern creates optical resonance and movement. The diversity of material and fabrication techniques that Moheb-Zandi uses function on formal and conceptual levels; her work is visually dynamic and it serves as a record of the artist’s life and journeys.
Anna Kenneally is a London based artist, represented by Fredericks & Freiser New York. Anna’s recent shows include Frieze New York and Four Artists at Fredericks & Freiser. Anna studied Fine Art at Bath School of Art & Design, graduating in 2017. Anna was also part of Mall Galleries ‘In the Studio’ programme and selected for multiple awards and residencies, including The Ashurst Emerging Art Prize, Unit 1 Gallery & Workshop Radical Residency and The ACS Studio Prize 2018 and 2019. Anna has a solo show at Fredericks & Freiser, opening January 2022.
Okiki Akinfe is a painter studying at the Slade School of Art. Initially her practise explored body language within human social interactions, to better understand archetypal behaviour. Drawing on the Animus Projection, Carl Jung’s theory that the unconscious self is formed by the opposite sex, she questioned, subverted, and disproved these stereotypes. More recently, she has been focusing on creating space within her work and practice, as an independent endeavour. She seeks to go beyond the ideal of simply existing as Black British and, rather, introduces theories of ‘fictioning’ to create her landscapes. These environmental landscapes exist as characters themselves, reflecting human behaviour and the psyche, and contributing to conversations around presence. Within them, figures are both invisible and un visible; space has been carved out for them to now exist in a non-social geographical world.
OA: My paintings show people phasing in and out of landscapes. Through them I question my diasporic experience – being both British and Nigerian. They are both allegories and realities. Each painting has a story to tell and as the viewer looks into them, her own nature is revealed. I want to spark curiosity. I want people to question the purpose of these legacies. The large painting has a biblical reference, but it is also grounded in Solange’s music videos. Solange talks about her experience as a black woman in the art world, not just making songs for herself but, rather, making art for people to consume. I am playing off this idea. I want viewers to feel like they’re intruding on the scene. The Old Masters’ paintings draw people in: you feel like you’re inside a secret. That’s what I want my paintings to do.
DMZ: My practice uses a traditional medium and pushes it in an unconventional way. It is rooted in my family. Growing up with my grandmother and learning about textiles, I developed my tactile sensibility. I communicate through that, telling different stories with the materials. The word ‘textiles’ has the same root as ‘text’, meaning ‘to weave’. It’s as if I’m writing when I’m weaving. The materials themselves have different metaphors and are from different places. I brought most with me to the residency and some I found in a hardware store in Camden. How I relate to colour is, in some senses, painterly, but at the same time, it is more than visual for me. I hear colours and I dream about weaving – it’s synaesthetic. My works have a humour to them – bulbous forms that explode, fly, trip, with little antennae. I want to play with and through my work, and so, hopefully, spark joy within the viewer. I see these pieces as extensions of myself, a release of feelings. They are emotionally-charged, material expressions of a non-verbal language. The works I have made on the residency are my first small-scale series of sculptural pieces and I’m excited to explore the space beyond the gallery wall with them.
AK: I am interested in portraying subcultures like goth and grunge in my paintings and being in Camden has been stimulating for this. How do you paint dark subjects? What are the influences that tie these subjects together, and how do you translate that in paint? Whether through a colour palette or erratic brush marks. During this residency, I have looked at imagery first-hand, which is new for me. More and more, the subjects of my painting are friends and people I have met. That is something I will continue to explore, after the residency. I have become more interested in how the outside affects my work inside the studio: through conversation, ideas, people.
AK: Being in the studio with people has breathed life back into my practice and made me re-evaluate how I use my time. Being able to bounce ideas off Okiki and Desire has been vital – whether that’s what to do next, or what colour to use or whether something is finished.
OA: It’s nice to know you’re not painting alone. Being able to hear someone behind you – sigh or mutter – someone who is also unsure about a colour. Knowing I can stop and talk to Anna and Desi, gives me a second wind. It’s the moral support that I missed over lockdown and what I have loved about the residency.
DMZ: I crashed at my mum’s and grandmother’s in Turkey over lockdown. It was a blessing for me, at the time, because I could make work uninterrupted. But now, being with people again is exciting and stimulating. I love feeling Okiki’s high energy. Or watching Anna completely paint over one work. It’s fascinating.
OA: I have learned a lot from watching these two make work. I have never seen an artist use tapestry like Desi. Before I came to the residency, I assumed that her pieces were made from patchworks, but then I saw how she weaved. Everything I thought I knew about tapestry was flipped on its head. The works feel so lively; I get a physical reaction when I see them.
DMZ: Okiki always dances when she is near my work! Some say they are sexually charged.
OA: I’m very physically attracted to them.
AK: Desire taught me how her larger works are based on the language of coding. There’s a whole world of understanding beyond our little painting palettes. At the same time, her pieces link to painting: the way she picks colours, the compositions, the textures of her materials.
OA: I am amazed at Anna’s productivity. Being able to watch the whole process, from start to finish, has given me a new understanding. Her colour palette, her consistency and her attention to facial detail are fascinating. She does a great subtle smirk and a smize.
DMZ: I love watching Anna paint. She uses an eclectic, idiosyncratic colour palette that has harmony; and there is a rhythm to her brush strokes. Her movements are dynamic, but her details are fine: her faces speak to you, their eyes look directly at you. I’m also fascinated by her research method, going through old magazines and posters and shooting close friends. There is an intimacy to her process that translates to the work.
AK: Okiki turned me onto Transparent Oxide Red. Her immediate use of materials resonated with me – she moves from the seed of an idea to a painting so quickly – and how she makes such intricate and complicated compositions with very few colours. A reduced colour palette. Restricted almost. I find that fascinating.
DMZ: There is something dreamlike to the way Okiki layers her colours. The fluorescent pink base is almost lurid, and the red on top has a mineral quality. There is a rawness to her materials: unstretched canvasses whose fabric is exposed. Watch her at work and you will see her physical relationship with the paintings – she is a force of nature. Being with both Anna and Okiki has been wonderful. This space has felt like home these past four weeks and these artists, like family.