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'Holding Space' by Anna Bunting-Branch

Hold­ing Space is a new con­tem­po­rary exhi­bi­tion by artist Anna Bunting-Branch com­mis­sioned by a space’ arts.

Holding Space explores the role of reproductive refusal in climate activism and considers how environmental factors affect decisions about bringing children into the world. The exhibition is informed by the artist’s ongoing research into childlessness and different ways of conceiving the future in the face of climate emergency.
An animation is exhibited in the Barker-Mill Project Space. Taking breath as a metaphor for the intimate relationship between body and environment, this work touches on the personal and political stakes of reproductive refusal. In response to what the animation’s protagonist calls the “violent comforts” of late capitalism, refusal is here reclaimed as a generative and loving act. Digital effects bring hand-painted imagery to life along with new music by Rosie Carr.
In the Main Gallery Space, a series of paintings draw out themes and imagery from the animation. Here, allusions to burnout, depression, and “navel gazing” reflect the impact of negative climate emotions. Responding directly to the architecture and history of God’s House Tower, Anna explores ways of entwining the narrative threads of her work into the rich fabric of the building.
During the course of the exhibition, Anna will host gatherings in the gallery. Participants from the local areawho respond to her open call will be invited to unpack some of the key ideas that inform Holding Space; sharing food and ideas as they talk and create together. These workshops aim to build a sense of collective enquiry and establish the roots of a community that can continue to meet and support each other in the future. Outcomes from the workshops are incorporated into the exhibition, forming a generative archive that will inspire the next chapter of Holding Space.
At God’s House Tower, bespoke exhibition furniture creates space for these gatherings, and for viewers to spend time with an evolving display of artwork and research material. This furniture was made by the artist in collaboration with her partner using surplus from Weber Industries, the “family business” where they both work. Elsewhere, shredded financial documents produced by Anna’s administrative labour for the business provides material for new objects crafted by the artist and workshop participants.
The works on display in Holding Space explore the potential for what the artist calls “fertile counter narratives” of childlessness. The use of the term “childless” rather than the more positively-glossed “childfree” expresses a commitment to thinking through the negative and embracing difficult feelings. This is an exhibition shaped by self-reflection, which invites us to consider our own conceptions of reproduction and futurity.

Holding Space will be on display at God’s House Tower Friday 28th June – Sunday 18th August 2024.