Call & Response

Groundbreaking art installation sheds new light on historic sculpture at Kensington Palace

Call and Responses: The Odyssey of the Moor, a new commission for Historic Royal Palaces and the Royal Collection Trust, will be on display at the Queen’s State Apartments in Kensington Palace, London, from September 25, 2013 to January 6, 2014.

 The work is a response by visual artist Graeme Mortimer Evelyn to Dutch master sculptor John van Nost’s Bust of the Moor – an astonishingly beautiful and lavishly expensive sculpture commissioned by King William III in around 1689.

GME The bust, made from layered, coloured marbles and semi-precious stones, depicts a black servant dressed in ‘Oriental’ fashion, but with an unmistakable slave collar. It is the only existing example of Van Nost’ use of polychromatic sculpture. There is a mystery that surrounds the commission, since a contradiction lies between King William III’s Protestant Calvinist austerity and the material expense of the work depicting the social position of the sculpture’s subject as that of a slave. The Bust of the Moor has consistently been considered by the Crown as one of the treasures of the Royal Collection and is the earliest recorded object within Kensington Palace.

Evelyn’s large installation re-imagines lost narratives that may have led to King William III commissioning this exquisite and mysterious artwork. He places the bust within a man-size gilded birdcage, but with its doors flung open to capture the view over Kensington Gardens. The birdcage is a reflection on Queen Mary’s collection of exotic birds that were housed within the Queens Gallery at Kensington Palace. He creates for the Moor a dream of self-determination and freedom. Call and Responses – The Odyssey of the Moor is an enquiry into structures of physical space, social strata and philosophical ideas on human nature and survival. This engaging work opens up untold stories and access to a nationally renowned historic palace.

GME1Evelyn has worked in collaboration with staff at Historic Royal Palaces and the Royal Collection Trust, with support from Arts Council England’s Grants for the Arts. Joanna Marschner, Senior Curator, Kensington Palace said: “Kensington Palace welcomes this opportunity to work with a thoughtful young artist. Youthful eyes draw new truths from the amazing historic treasures in our charge”

Graeme Mortimer Evelyn is a British artist of Jamaican heritage. In 2012 Evelyn produced the exhibition Out of Many, One for Jamaica’s 50th anniversary at the Jamaican High Commission during the London Olympics. The display explored notions of identity and belonging that have helped to inform the Call and Responses project for Kensington Palace.

He has developed a reputation for creating art in places of worship, public buildings and museums that subvert these settings – inspired by his research and the re-creation of alternative histories and mythologies.

Evelyn is an artist with other notable firsts. In January 2011, as inaugural Artist-in-Residence at St Stephen’s Church, Bristol, he unveiled the permanent contemporary altarpiece, the Reconciliation Reredos. Built in the 14th Century, St Stephen’s is one of the oldest churches in Bristol and is of national and international significance as the church that blessed every ship that left the port, including every Transatlantic Slave Trade vessel that left the city. Evelyn is the first artist of African Diaspora heritage to produce such a permanent work in an historic church in Europe.

He said: “It is an honour to be afforded the opportunity to work with this treasure from the Royal Collection. It was a privilege to reinterpret the space within the Queen’s State Apartments, with the intention of creating a powerfully engaging work with a challenging history highlighting universal themes.”

Call and Responses: The Odyssey of the Moor – 25 September 2013 until 6 January 2014, Kensington Palace

Kensington Palace:

Artist contact:

Artist website:

Artist Twitter: @graemeevelyn

For more information regarding the Bust of the Moor

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An Odyssey begins



The Call and Responses project is in partnership and enjoys the support from Historic Royal Palaces and The Royal Collection for the exhibition expected autumn 2013 for the Queen’s Gallery at Kensington Palace.

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Exhibited five major works at the latest Lyes & Jones show State of the Art in Hoxton, London in November 14 2012

The painted relief sculpture Treasuring our Differences was sold during the exhibition.


* Soiree du Coeur   61cm x 178cm 2012


Graeme Evelyn – Guest Curator – Afrika Eye International Film Festival Nov 2012


A core focus of Afrika Eye film festival 2012, is dedicated to celebrating 50 years of independence for Jamaica. Showing Jamaica in all its raw, gritty and glorious reality, the programme blends subtle hues of history and politics from the newest and best Jamaican films, guest curated by renowned artist of Jamaican heritage, Graeme Evelyn. Evelyn has chosen three films for the festival LIFE AND DEBT, BETTER MUS’ COME, and THE FADE.

‘Out of Many, One’ Debut Solo Exhibition at the Jamaica High Commission

OUT OF MANY, ONE London debut solo exhibition at the Jamaica High Commission, as part of JA 50 and 2012 Jamaica Independence celebrations.

PREVIEW: FRIDAY 13th JULY, 6:30PM – 9PM in the presence of the High Commissioner for Jamaica, Her Excellency Aloum Ndombet Assamba.

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‘Out of Many, One’ Debut Solo Exhibition at the Royal Commonwealth Society

OUT OF MANY, ONE London debut solo exhibition at the Royal Commonwealth Society supported and endorsed by the Jamaican High Commission, as part of JA 50 and 2012 Jamaica Independence celebrations.

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Treasures from the Queen’s Royal Palaces


Contributed to the film which will accompany the forthcoming exhibition at The Queens Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse that “Brings together some of the finest treasures from the Royal Collection to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012”. Requested by The Royal Collection to give insights as a contemporary artist, into the profound significance of the seventeenth century sculpture, the very poignant and beautiful Bust of the Moor by John Van Nost.

News 2011

Reading The Riots

You may have read reports about the two major riots in Stokes Croft, Central Bristol UK in April 21/28 2011. I have lived and worked in this area for over a decade. In 2009, the new Museum of Bristol commissioned and acquired the large painted

relief sculpture, Reading the Riot (Act). a permanent work acquired for their new contemporary art collections.This commission is on view in the M-Shed Museum of Bristol which is now confirmed to open 17 June 2011.

In 2007, I subverted the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery collections and displays in scenes during the filming of The Two Coins: Meditations on Trade; Due to the films critical success, I was approached to create an uncompromising and

challenging piece regarding the long history of dissent within the city, which in retrospect , since the riots in Stokes Croft, Bristol and democracy protests internationally, Reading the Riot (Act) currently seems strangely prophetic.

For Reading the Riot (Act), I chose to subvertise the museum and subvert historical record. Utilising a large discarded gambling table from a former burnt out local Chinese Restaurant, I used detail from images taken from the Bristol 1831 riots

illustrating the poor protesting for the right to vote nationwide – cut down by the sabre armed horseman after Reading the Riot Act for all to disperse. Directly opposite, with the identical action of the armed horseman, an overseer whips the enslaved- taken from an abolitionist image during the same year. Surrounded by the West African proverb, “If you choose to dance with a crocodile, you must be prepared for when the music stops”.

 The resonance with our current socio-political and financial state of affairs is given its most fitting memorial, as a spinning record.

Reading the Riot (Act) is on view in the Museum of Bristol

Saint Stephen’s Reconciliation Art Foundation

On Friday 20th May, the introduction and first fundraising event towards the Saint Stephen’s Reconciliation Art Foundation with a visionary keynote address and piano performance/voice of incredibly resonant virtuosity by Paul Gladstone Reid MBE set the precedence for the broader intention of the Foundation. The foundation is a direct continuation of the Saint Stephens Church’s commitment in its support of the vital function that visual art creates for society and community healing, exemplified by the overwhelming national and international critical success of its first Artist In Residence program and commission the Reconciliation Reredos.

 Saint Stephen’s Reconciliation Art Foundation

Apart from coming to the end of my tenure as Artist in Residence, I am involved in the formulation of the Saint Stephen’s Reconciliation Art Foundation which aims to support high quality International and UK artist residencies for emerging visual artists, continuing work and discourse on social reconciliation through the arts by raising £60K in over two years for programming of high profile public works. The foundation is a direct continuation of the Saint Stephens Church’s commitment in its support of the vital function that visual art creates for society, exemplified by the overwhelming national and international critical success of its first AIR program and commission the Reconciliation Reredos.

An introduction to the Saint Stephen’s Reconciliation Art Foundation and the first of its fundraising events is on Friday 20th May with keynote address and piano performance by Paul Gladstone Reid MBE.

Paul Gladstone Reid is a versatile award winning composer, musician and producer. His work and experience cover a plethora of genres from classical, opera, gospel, ballet, rock, pop, hip hop, jazz, world music, film, theatre and television. He is renowned for creating cross-cultural works of art and has collaborated extensively with such artists and filmmakers as Academy Award winning director, Danny Boyle, artist and filmmaker, Isaac Julien, actors, including Sir Ben Kingsley and Sir Ian McKellen with The Royal Shakespeare Company and award-winning playwright, Kwame Kwei-Amarh among an extensive array of others.

Please take the opportunity to examine this extraordinary artist and cultural visionary. SAVE THE DATE, RSVP! Experience this remarkable event, keynote speaker and performance. Saint Stephen’s Church. Friday 20th May 2011

Reredos Artist in Conversation and Performance

St. Stephen’s Church, Bristol

22 January 2011 1pm- 4pm Free Entry

‘The Art of Reconciliation’ : conversation, reflection and resolution - with Artist in Residence Graeme Mortimer Evelyn at Saint Stephen’s. The unveiling of strong and icon-like work at the altar opens issues of power and inspiration, abuse and reconciliation. The work entitled Bristol Reconciliation Reredos are large-scale hand carved relief and painted altar-piece panels, which responds to Saint Stephen’s Church’s past links with the slave trade and our future together, which demands our attention in the contemporary.

Please come and join artist Graeme Mortimer Evelyn in conversation with curator Kat Anderson about this very unique public art commission for St. Stephen’s Church. The event will also feature a special performance by sound and performance artist Juan Gabriel Gutierrez. The event is free but space is limited so please book. Please

The Bristol Reconciliation Reredos will be open to the public from the 21 January 2011. Check link below for latest news updates and description of the Reconciliation Reredos Altarpiece unveiling weekend

News 2010

Saint Stephens Artist in Residence

As part of the artist in residence program, at Saint Stephens, I have been presenting a series of changing alternating exhibitions in Saint Stephens Café leading up to the unveiling of the Reconciliation Reredos in December 2010. These shows will present finished residency altarpiece study and research works, including an evolving visual mind map of collected and created material that has informed the approved design, as well as selections from a prolific and varied catalogue.

 Reconciliation Reredos altarpiece studies acquired by collectors based in Manchester, Bristol and London

Three of these significant studies have been sold this year in anticipation of the unveiling of the altarpiece in December 2010. The painted relief sculptures entitled:

The Lords’ Lieutenant, Son of Ibo, San Elias and Saint Stephen, have been acquired by collectors in Bristol and Manchester respectively. The large painting Lopez, has also been sold to collectors in Paris.

 The Weird and Wonderful Lost and Found

Solo exhibition now showing at Tapped and Packed, 26 Rathbone Place, LONDON W1 – August 6th to October 10th 2010.

Selection of painted relief sculptures, painting and prints.

Caribbean Curatorship and National Identity, Bridgetown, Barbados

Invited to attend and to be a panellist on Networks That Work For You with international curator Christine Eyene and Queen’s Museum NYC Director, Tom Finkelpearl. Caribbean Curatorship and National Identity is an examination of how history is interpreted and heritage is shaped by communal memory for audiences, old and new, local and foreign, in conjunction with the Museums Association of the Caribbean (MAC), the National Art Gallery Committee (NAGC), the International Curators Forum (ICF) and the International Council of Museums (ICOM).

Among some of the keynote speakers in attendance are Lonnie G Bunch, Smithsonian Institute African American Museum Director and Okwui Enwezor, Dean of Academic Affairs and Senior Vice President at San Francisco Art Institute. As a major curator, writer, critic, and editor, Enwezor has been a regular contributor to numerous exhibition catalogues, anthologies, and journals. He is founder and co-editor of the critical art journal Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art published by the Africana Study Center, Cornell University.