Image: still from Saoirse Amira Anis, A Lesson in Frivolity (2022, work in progress). Courtesy of the artist

Saoirse Amira Anis
For no other reason than joy

9 July – 28 August 2022

Thurs – Sun, 11am – 4pm
or by appointment outside of those times

Entry to this exhibition is free 

On Saturday 9 July, please join us 1.30-4.30pm for refreshments and a first look as we open Saoirse’s exhibition

We are pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by Dundee-based artist Saoirse Amira Anis, entitled For no other reason than joy, which will open on 9 July.

Saoirse Amira Anis’s practice spans moving image, installation, sculpture and performance, and she is interested in materials, memories, and movement, and the value of empathy and care. Her work explores personal therapeutic processes and how these relate to the ways we share our vulnerabilities with each other, and it is informed by radical community-based approaches to governance and care that run through queer Black feminist thought. 

Increasingly, Saoirse is drawing upon her Scottish-Moroccan heritage, which includes ancestry from Mali and Mauritania. In her recent work, she has combined dance, heritage and nature, and over 2020-21, Saoirse began to elaborate an alter ego called Freedom Princess, initially as a source of ‘internal conflict resolution’, exploring elements of costume and movement in the natural landscape. She has said:  ‘Her name derives from my own – Saoirse Amira translates from Gaelic and Arabic to Freedom Princess. This alter ego is a way for me to explore the world through the eyes of a person who is not shackled by any earthly requirements or confusions.’

For no other reason than joy is the first occasion that Saoirse will give physical form to Freedomia, Freedom Princess’s world, as a place unburdened of the weight of human history, free of violence, guilt or shame: ’It has no links to capitalism or state-fuelled inequality; no bloody history of slavery or terror.’ Instead, it is a place that combines the celestial and the informal, levity and immanence: ‘Freedom Princess doesn’t come from anywhere you’d be able to identify on a map, so don’t ask…’

In developing the exhibition, Saoirse has drawn upon a wide range of sources: ‘…the sun, the earth, the sky and the sea; imagery that comes to me in dreams; personal and global mythologies; personal explorations of queerness; alchemy; Catholicism; monarchy; luxury and who has access to it; disability, recovery and systems of support.’ 

Saoirse will share a new film work commissioned for the exhibition, A Lesson in Frivolity, which she shot in locations in Nithsdale in Dumfriesshire, and near to Collecchia, in Molise, Italy, whilst she was attending the residency programme established there by the Museum of Loss and Renewal.  The film will be installed in our upstairs space amidst a backdrop of yellows, purples and golds and alongside sculptural and textile elements that combine natural, earthy materials with those that are gaudy and extravagant: ‘I hope the space will feel a little like the visitors are entering into another world – a small insight into Freedomia. Though the inspiration behind the work is extremely personal and fraught with tension, I hope that the end result is joyous, vibrant and a little magical.

Saoirse Amira Anis (b. Lanark, Scotland) is based in Dundee. In her work, Saoirse explores the relationships between materials, memories, and the essential movement that runs through everything. She is also the curator of Miss(ing) Information, recently at Perth Museum and Art Gallery, an exhibition that features the work of Tayo Adekunle, Nkem Okwechime, Tako Taal and Natasha Ruwona. Since graduating Saoirse has completed residencies at Cove Park, Argyll and Bute, Hospitalfield in Arbroath, and Collemacchia, with the Museum of Loss and Renewal. She was a committee member at GENERATORprojects 2018-2021. Recent projects include: Jupiter Rising, 2021; A Lesson in Vanity, David Dale Gallery and Lux Scotland, July 2021; We Can Still Dance, Jupiter Artland, as part of the Black Lives Matter Mural Trail, Edinburgh Art Festival (2020; GEN-TRS, The Royal Standard, Liverpool (2020), and Echo, in response Alberta Whittle’s How Flexible Can We Make the Mouth, DCA, Dundee (2019).

Supported by The Fenton Arts Trust and Creative Scotland’s Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development