Investigating the curse cast upon Hastings

Cursebreakers is a new body of work by Alexi Marshall on show at Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion until January 16.

Alexi Marshall, The Old World is Burning
Alexi Marshall, The Old World is Burning

It includes linocut prints, mosaics and embroidery that refer to representations of hybrid female figures and fantastic landscapes.

Spokeswoman Sally Ann Lycett said: “Driven by a need for new mythologies, Marshall constructs imaginary worlds that encourage a purposeful examination of, and dialogue between, multiple traditions and histories.

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“Borrowing from paganism, folklore and animism, Marshall uses anthropomorphic and solar motifs, talismans, and ritual embroidery to challenge and subvert historical representations of women.

“She uses large-scale linocuts depicting female figures – part human, biblical and animal – in fantastical yet deeply personal landscapes that are simultaneously unnerving and alluring, and that seem to defy fixed narratives. Unapologetic imagery of women in their sexuality, dark femininity, divinity and unconstrained freedom recur in these landscapes and the figures break through old cycles through regeneration and rebirth.

“The title of the exhibition refers to occultist Aleister Crowley’s alleged curse cast upon Hastings. The story goes that he cursed the town and its inhabitants so that they could never free themselves from it; anyone who left would feel compelled to return. The only way to truly leave is to always carry a pebble with a hole in it, taken from Hastings beach, in your pocket. Marshall interweaves this legend as well as pagan histories and practices and their current celebrations such as Hastings’ Jack in the Green Festival, which sees a ‘Jack’ cloaked in leaves to release the spirit of summer.

“This exhibition is a collaboration between Flatland Projects and the De La Warr Pavilion. Originally, Cursebreakers was to take place at Flatland Projects – an artist-run exhibition space in Hastings which had to close due to the pandemic. In response, the De La Warr and Flatland decided to collaborate on its presentation in our First floor gallery.”

Alexi Marshall (b 1995, London) is a London-based artist who graduated from the Slade School of Art in 2018. She works in print, fabric, drawing and embroidery, investigating themes of spirituality, folklore and regeneration. Linocut printing is a recurring medium in Marshall’s practice. Her prints and drawings convey a temporality, as lines, bodies and worlds fold into each other to create theatrical tableaux and morality plays, populated by saints and sinners. A certain kind of violence is projected as the images are scratched and carved into the medium in these labour intensive, detailed carvings.”

Marshall has exhibited her work in a solo exhibition at Public Gallery, London in 2019 and in selected group shows including: Dancing at The Edge Of The World, Sara Zanin Gallery, Rome and We Always Dance Here, Flatland Projects, Hastings.