Featured Posts

To top
26 Oct

Amber Pinkerton’s latest exhibition explores her secret innermost thoughts

Amber Pinkerton’s latest exhibition explores her secret innermost thoughts

‘You enter an area that needs to be like my mind’: the artist’s debut solo exhibition, Self Dialogues: Hard Food, spans photography, installation, film and audio to delve into her interior world

Behind a mahogany and oak-beaded curtain, light pours through the steeple-like ceiling of central London gallery Alice Black, evoking communion. Fleshy pink paint licks the partitions where Jamaica-born, London-based artist Amber Pinkerton’s debut solo exhibition, Self Dialogues: Hard Food, opened earlier this month. The pink imbues the gallery with a cerebral quality as Pinkerton’s voice punctuates its stillness. A monologue unfurls from a set of speakers, so intimate in its content that it looks like reading her diary: “The mind is a locket of secrets. Considering is a present of disguise. But in the event that they can hear my thoughts. I’m never truly alone.” 

Hard Food is the primary in a series of intimate and immersive exhibitions that coalesce Pinkerton’s most personal work yet. “There’s an emphasis on feeling in this whole show,” she explains once we meet at her studio in east London ahead of the launch. “You enter an area that needs to be like my mind.” Hard Food borrows its name from the standard Jamaican dish of boiled ground provisions: yams, green bananas, pumpkin, potatoes. The double meaning here is that we’re tasting something difficult to swallow. Traversing feelings of detachment and loneliness while unravelling notions of family, love, and migration, Hard Food is a degustation of Pinkerton’s innermost thoughts. Now, at 26, she invites us to chew on these too and, in turn, liberates herself. 

Six analogue TV screens are perched on plinths in the back of the gallery, skipping through dream-like fragments from a six-minute film (“Hard Food”) accompanying Pinkerton’s diaristic spoken monologue. Adjoining to those, self-portraiture cyanotypes soaked with tea feature what appears to be a dancing Pinkerton (“Untitled Self Portrait”), the camera shutter release cable like an umbilical cord aiding a rebirth.

“Exploring myself on this honest way looks like biting a forbidden fruit” – Amber Pinkerton

There are biblical connotations to “Eve” – a framed film still of a girl eating a chunk of fruit, her expression indiscernible but her gaze searing. “I feel exploring myself on this honest way looks like biting a forbidden fruit,” Pinkerton says. Deity-like, Eve hangs higher than every other work within the gallery. “She’s a goddess,” Pinkerton continues, “a scarred yet resilient entity coming out at the opposite end of her own dark matter.” Here, Eve represents a transition from one way of thinking to a different as Pinkerton has risen above her hardships. Each work is a fraction of the artist, an expression of the plurality of a person; a mess of selves existing as a complete. “It looks like Eve is looking down and around at her old corpse or shed skin,” Pinkerton notes. ​Akin to the parable of ​Ouroboros, it’s an act that feels baptismal not funereal. 

“Protector” is a diptych of Eve with a fruit tree and a single tea-toned cyanotype of the dancing Pinkerton. “Throughout the ugly and the attractive, I at all times have this sometimes comfortable and uncomfortable feeling that something spiritual is present, watching me,” Pinkerton explains. “Scale got here into play as an enormous face overlooking a small figure. Mentally, I saw myself this manner, like a vessel with an absent soul, but there was also something greater to cushion me.”

“Heaven and Hell”, a triptych of a flower, a self-portrait, and a lady floating in water, embodies flux. “It’s an abstract work made through channelling emotion,” begins Pinkerton. “But I wanted it to emulate these frequent feelings of high and low, contradiction, polarities, fluctuation.” While lots of the works titles are simply ‘untitled’, signalling ambiguity, Pinkerton adds: “I liked keeping a number of of the titles reverent in a biblical sense since it felt like a 3rd entity had seen all of it.”

Scattered across the 2 remaining partitions of the gallery, photographs of a lady in a blue two-piece, masked by a white tulle veil stretched out of shot, like someone, or something, is holding her back, stalks through darkness. Her vision is partially obscured but her stance is set; she’s walking towards the sunshine. On one in every of these partitions, a poem (“Self Dialogues”) ruminates on this tug-o-war between selves, encapsulating the visuals in written form.

Within the centre of the exhibition is “the infant eggs”, an antique pink jewellery box cradling an iPad with a set of headphones where visitors can experience an prolonged 12-minute version of Pinkerton’s monologues, each made in collaboration with musician and friend Kwaku Konadu. The audio is presented alongside visuals that appear, overwhelm, and disappear just like the thoughts of a chaotic mind. “It gives much more insight into my life and memories,” Pinkerton says. “It’s (about) attempting to connect you to me as much as possible.”

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Pinkerton moved to London to review for a Bachelor in Practical Filmmaking on the Met Film School, although she dropped out a yr later to pursue photography. “My interest and love for photography at all times outweighed film,” she explains. “I discovered film too silent and long-winded for my lively persona.” From her rented room in Ealing Broadway, west London, it dawned on her how removed from home she was, not only in distance but culturally too. “All the pieces was more fragmented (within the UK), and folks were stereotyped and categorised by culture, speech, class,” Pinkerton says. “It was revealing to see how I used to be stereotyped since it was so offset from the reality of my background. My self-awareness skyrocketed. It made me livid.” The camera became a conduit to channel her rage into empowerment. “It was an isolating and intrapersonal experience,” Pinkerton says. “The art was therapeutic. That was my shouting, my outlet of expression. My anger.”

Hard Food presents a transparent break from the style work for Dazed, Vanity Fair, Re-Edition magazine, and clients like Gucci, Miu Miu, and Moncler which have solidified her name amongst the industry. In 2019, Pinkerton signed as a photographer with the agency Lalaland Artists when she was just 22. That very same yr she enrolled in a Bachelor of Photography on the University of Westminster, which she graduates from next month. “I at all times thought I didn’t must go to highschool, but sooner or later, I used to be still not feeling artistically fulfilled enough,” Pinkerton recalls. “I’d gotten thus far (in my profession) at such a young age, but I felt there was more to learn, more ways to develop as an artist. It was truthfully one of the best decision I’ve ever made.” 

Pinkerton’s a-ha moment got here when she took another processes workshop hosted by the college’s high quality art department. “I used to be at all times going to the high quality art department after that,” she laughs. “(A cyanotype is) very painterly, it makes me feel more connected as an artist. It’s like putting some ingrained stamp of myself on it. Possibly, subconsciously, it’s self-preservation.” The works in Hard Food are framed in mahogany, a solid and stable material marked for its beauty and sturdiness. Historically, the wood was one in every of Jamaica’s biggest exports, lining the pockets of the British colonial powers while exploiting Jamaica’s resources and labour. “I like connecting to materials through texture and I find it interesting how mediums intersect and the various meanings they will bring out,” she explains. “It’s an intentional act that sees Pinkerton begin to explore the photograph as object, while providing a stark reminder of the historical context that frames her experiences within the UK.

Shifting right into a high quality art practice has gifted her the patience that is still taboo within the fast-paced fashion world, and, in turn, offered creative respite. “It taught me to work at a special pace that I used to think wasn’t possible,” she reveals, as she partly credits her course tutor, Eugénie Shinkle, for this shift. “She said that I work in fashion a lot at a business level to the purpose where I’m overthinking all the things. She was like, ‘Why are you showing me this 30-page treatment? Just do it.’” Pinkerton began to chop loose the ways she had been conditioned to work – as a substitute using intuition to guide her. “I used to be trying to precise all this stuff in another way without pondering an excessive amount of: working from feeling, instinct or where my physical body leaves me with the work fairly than enthusiastic about meaning and the way exactly it’ll look. Just seeing where it finally ends up.” 

Hard Food is step one in an ongoing journey that Pinkerton has a transparent vision of, admitting she’s already planning the remaining iterations collectively titled Self Dialogues. A self-portrait of Pinkerton wearing a white crocheted veil like a bride, her bare skin painted with red love hearts, (“preservation of its soil, albeit stifles its seeds”) is notably the one work created in a public space. Pinkerton’s gallerist Alice Black notes that it acts as a deposit for the subsequent show, which can examine love and desire. “(Hard Food) is an introduction, a skim on me, in an intrapersonal way,” Pinkerton explains. “The opposite (shows) will go into more external topics.” Despite the interiority that Hard Food is characterised by, visitors will feel a kinship, and, Pinkerton hopes, a way of catharsis. “I just want everyone to feel something. I even recommend people go alone to find a way to take it in and feel it,” she says. “When it’s just you and the work, it does something to you.”

Amber PInkerton’s Self Dialogues: Hard Food is running on the Alice Black gallery until November 11, 2024.

Join Dazed Club and be a part of our world! You get exclusive access to events, parties, festivals and our editors, in addition to a free subscription to Dazed for a yr. Join for £5/month today.

Recommended Products

Beauty Tips
No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.