GRAEME MORTIMER EVELYN
Graeme Mortimer Evelyn is a multi-media visual artist, musician, and curator – whose varied body of work comments on cultural social identity, politics, and language. He describes these narratives forming – “when fragments of relation, memory, society, identity, and modernity, which seem disparate at first, come together to form a whole”. His works have been displayed and collected in Princeton University Center for African American Studies NJ, Cornell University NY, Kensington Palace, The Royal Commonwealth Society, Museum in Docklands, Gloucester Cathedral, Watershed, and M-Shed Bristol.
Evelyn has developed a reputation for creating work that is situated in municipal buildings, sites of memory and places of worship that subvert these settings and philosophies. His intention is that his art acts as a catalyst – attracting new audiences to seek alternative dialogues and challenging questions to enable the democracy of public space. His subversion of the institution does not stop there, as his works often reflect that ‘institution” denotes systems, memorial, edifice, myth, belief, and popular opinion.
Many of the commissioned project work engages with contested histories and heritage, which has often required detailed archival research and an acute sensitivity to collective social issues and ideas. This process is challenging and thought-provoking for both artist and audience, causing to question the essence of what brings people into a conversation with a work of contemporary art.
His use of detailed in-depth subject research creates the framework and give context to his experimental use of varied and diverse mediums, such as the 55min video essay The Two Coins: Meditations on Trade (2007). This poignant, factual and objective work was filmed staging imagined historical reenactments within UNESCO heritage sites and locations in Ghana, Mali, Malawi, and the UK, documenting the dormant history of the Trans – Atlantic Slave Trade as silent meditation.
In 2009, Evelyn was commissioned by M-shed (Museum of Bristol) to subvert historical record. The result of extensive research and an old Chinese gambling table – the museum acquired the large painted relief sculpture, Reading the Riot (Act), a permanent work on display for their contemporary art collection. It is an uncompromising and challenging statement on the long history of British public dissent. Unveiled in 2011; the year of unprecedented rioting in London, Europe, and the Middle East Reading the Riot (Act) became strangely prophetic
In 2011, Evelyn was Artist-in-Residence at St. Stephen’s Church Bristol, commissioned to create a large scale permanent contemporary altarpiece, the Reconciliation Reredos. Set within one of the oldest churches in Bristol, historically significant as the harbour church that blessed every merchant slave vessel before their voyage; the Reconciliation Reredos is a contemporary artwork of universal reconciliation, that responds to the church’s past, reflects the voices of the city today while representing the potential of the future. The work has established Evelyn as the first-ever British Jamaican Artist to complete such a commission in Europe.
He also presented the exclusive solo exhibition Out of Many, One at the Jamaica High Commission during the London2012 Olympics and Jamaica 50 and was the guest curator of contemporary Jamaican film for Afrika Eye 2012 International Film Festival. In 2013/14, Evelyn created the critically acclaimed site-specific installation Call and Responses – The Odyssey of the Moor – a contemporary response to John Van Nost’s Bust of a Moor (1688) commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces and The Royal Collection Trust – exhibited within the Queens State apartments at Kensington Palace.
In Feb 2015 Evelyn was CoLab Festival Artist in Residence at Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music & Dance directing an improvisational fusion of automatic drawing with the conservatoires contemporary dance and jazz / classical music students. Recently, Evelyn co-curated the major landmark UK exhibition Jamaican Pulse – Art and Politics from Jamaica and the Diaspora – commissioned by The Royal West of England Academy for June 25 – Sept 11 2016, in partnership with the Jamaican High Commission, National Gallery of Jamaica and The Bluecoat Liverpool supported by Arts Council England.
He has contributed to panel discussions on the role of public art for London Festival of Architecture, Virtual Migrants Arnolfini, Caribbean Curatorship and National Identity (Barbados), International Curators Forum / Asia Culture Centre symposium Curating The International Diaspora 2016 Gwangju Biennale, South Korea and very recently for students at King’s College London as part of the 2022 series titled ‘Inside London: Art and the Sacred’. Evelyn has also been selected as a panel judge for the Edinburgh based, John Byrne Award for 2022/23.
In November 2017 Evelyn completed the major London Diocese commission, creating the largest permanent hand sculpted contemporary altarpiece in Europe, The Eternal Engine, for St Francis Church in Tottenham Hale. Since his Reconciliation Reredos Heritage Fund commission for Bristol’s St Stephen’s Church in 2011, Graeme Mortimer Evelyn remains the only British / Caribbean artist to complete two such unique permanent public art legacy works in Europe.
He has recently completed vinyl album cover commissions through this lens for world renowned Jazz Artists – notably the final Dub mix 12inch vinyl covers for the late great Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s collaboration with Swiss Jazz trombonist Samuel Blaser (2023 release) and the debut album for the acclaimed Ukrainian Jazz Harpist Alina Bzhezinska (2022 release).
Evelyn currently works in his newly constructed and landscaped artist garden studio in South London created throughout the lockdown, continuing to develop his varied and innovative body of works exploring automatic experimental drawing and sculpture informed by his synaesthesia reaction to sound, music and audio and how these responses relate to contemporary religious and secular belief structures. He has also begun the first steps to create a new artist project base in Edinburgh.
Evelyn’s first solo exhibition in Scotland, Relics from an Oasis of Good Luck, Feb 2 – Feb 27 2023 , was set within Edinburghs prestigious Gleneagles Townhouse, presenting a collection of works over a 25yr period selected directly from the artists London home as, “personal visual memories of a very grateful creative life”.
In May, Evelyn contributed excerpts from the updated Directors Cut of The Two Coins: Meditations on Trade (2007) commissioned for Talbot Rice Gallery (Edinburgh University) exhibition event Owning It, and returned to the city in June, commissioned by Edinburgh / Jazz Blues Festival to present workshops of Caribbean percussion to perform during Scotland’s Windrush Generation Celebration.
In late September 2023, Evelyn will begin his six week invited Artist Residency for the USA based Foundation for Spirituality and the Arts, in Charleston, South Carolina. His observational essays on Contemporary Art and Culture are published with ArtBible online.
GRAEME MORTIMER EVELYN – STUDIO / PROJECTS BASED IN LONDON AND EDINBURGH
FEB 2023 Relics from an Oasis of Good Luck – Lobby 37 Gleneagles Townhouse, Edinburgh
SEPT 2013 Call and Responses – The Odyssey of the Moor Queens State Apartments Kensington Palace, London
JULY 2012 Out of Many, One PART II – Jamaican High Commission, London
APR 2012 Out of Many, One PART I – The Royal Commonwealth Society, London
AUG 2010 The Weird and Wonderful Lost and Found PART II Tapped and Packed, London
APR 09/10 The Stations of the Cross Saint Stephen’s Church, Bristol
OCT 2008 The Weird and Wonderful Lost and Found PART I Severnshed Restaurant, Bristol
MAR 2008 The Narratives of the Journey The George Gallery, Newnham on Severn
NOV 2007 The Two Coins: Meditations on Trade – Moving Image Watershed Media Centre, Bristol
FEB 06/07 The Stations of the Cross Gloucester Cathedral
JUNE 2003 Phone Booth Carnival Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
OCT 1998 Consistency of Oil Skate n Ride, Bristol
AUG 1998 BurnTheMall Skate n Ride, Bristol
JAN 1998 I Work in this Building The Greenhouse Restaurant, Bristol
MAY 2023 Owning It Talbot Rice Gallery, The University of Edinburgh
JUNE 2016 Jamaican Pulse The Royal West of England Academy Bristol
SEPT 2014 Navigations 3FF Red Gallery London
NOV 2012 State of the Art Lyes and Jones Arch 402 London
SEPT 2008 Voices Bristol Museum and Art Gallery
OCT 2003 Retox International Contemporary Art Festival Bristol
FEB 2000 Winter Exhibits The Hanging Space Gallery, London
APR 1999 Spring Exhibits The Hanging Space Gallery London
OCT 1996 The Clockhouse Open Laxfield, Suffolk
APR 2013 Arts Council England GFTA award Call and Responses
FEB 2010 Arts Council England GFTA award The Next Level
JUN 2009 Heritage Lottery Fund award Reconciliation Reredos
DEC 2007 The Pierian Centre Funding for The Two Coins
MAR 2007 Society of Merchant Venturers Funding The Two Coins
FEB 2007 Arts Council England GFTA award Bristol City Council Abolition200 award The Two Coins
SEPT 2005 Arts Council England GFTA award Stations of the Cross
NOV 2016 The Eternal Engine Saint Francis at the Engine Room London
JAN 2015 Jamaican Pulse The Royal West of England Academy Bristol
APR 2013 Call and Responses Kensington Palace / HRP London
AUG 2012 Nanny Maroon Private collector London
MAY 2012 Ruby Fountain Wetherspoons Yate
JAN 2011 Reconciliation Reredos Saint Stephen’s Church Bristol
SEPT 2009 Reading the Riot (Act) M-Shed New Museum of Bristol
MAR 2005 Mariona Dr Claudi and Dr Mariona Ferrer, Majorca Spain
SEPT 1999 Manmovement (mural) Whitefriars Building, Bristol
JUNE 1998 Unity (mural) Glastonbury Festival, Jazz World Stage
SEPT 1992 – JUNE 1995
Graduate Graphic Fine Art and Printmaking Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge UK
OCT 1995 – JAN 1996
Research and study of Indian woodblock, printmaking, natural dye and ink production Rajasthan, Gujarat and Kathmandu, Nepal
JAN 1998 – JAN 2003
Band member of groundbreaking and influential post-punk-electro-hip-pop-experimental group, OIL EXPERTS. The group was instrumental in the emergence of a new Bristol underground avant garde sound during a very vibrant artistic and musical period. This new wave cultural movement was spearheaded by arriving artists/musicians relocated to Bristol in the wake of Massive Attack, Tricky and Portishead as an acknowledgment of, as well as a reaction against, the mainstream identification of the “Bristol Sound”.
JAN 1998 – JAN 2003
Lived with well-known Bristol/ UK street graffiti artists Paris and Xenz and hung out with Banksy during his early development in Bristol. Created large-scale guerilla graffiti punk poster street installations advertising OIL EXPERTS gigs.
FEB 2003 First Chairperson and founding member of Jamaica Street Artists Bristol, the largest artist led studios in South West, UK.
Commissioned by the Dean of Gloucester Cathedral to create the Stations of the Cross for the Cathedral Cloisters for Lent 2006.
Requested for re exhibition Lent 2007.
AUG 2005 – JUNE 2007
Creator and Bandleader for Orquesta Montpelier – Bristol based 12 piece Big Band Salsa Dura Orchestra
Embarked on detailed in-depth subject research that surround monuments erected in memory of prominent 18th Century British slave traders for framework and context to examine their dormant history and legacies as silent meditation. Written, produced and directed the 55min silent video, The Two Coins: Meditations on Trade as a response using locations in Ghana, Mali, Malawi and UK, back dropped by UNESCO World Heritage sites, Festivals and Museums, juxtaposed by historical fact without myth or prejudice, from historians such as Hugh Thomas, Marcus Rediker and Madge Dresser.
Panelist A Role for Public Art for London Festival of Architecture Museum in Docklands London on the theme of Public Art and Social Debate.
Commissioned by M-Shed (Museum of Bristol) for their permanent collection of contemporary art as a response to subversion of historical record Reading the Riot (Act), is on permanent display. It is an uncompromising and challenging statement on the long history of British public dissent. Unveiled in 2011 during a year rioting in London, Europe and the Middle East.
Discussion, Video and Live Performance with Virtual Migrants at the Arnolfini, Bristol C Words: Carbon, Climate, Capital, Culture – an exhibition by artist-activist group PLATFORM and their collaborators.
Panelist Networks that Work for You for the Caribbean Curatorship and National Identity conference in Bridgetown, Barbados.
DEC 2010 – JAN 2011
Artist-in-Residence at St. Stephen’s Church Bristol, commissioned to install the large scale permanent contemporary altarpiece, entitled the Reconciliation Reredos for one of the oldest churches in the medieval quarter of Bristol UK. St Stephen’s has global historical significance as the harbour church that blessed every merchant slave vessel before embarking on their voyages during the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The Reconciliation Reredos is the first contemporary altarpiece to be installed permanently within a sacred medieval space in Europe by a British Caribbean artist.
Co – Curator Site Festival Open exhibition The Museum in the Park Stroud
Granted exclusive access to The Royal Library at Windsor Castle catalogues of Leonardo da Vinci’s preparatory Drawings of The Last Supper and his studies of Anatomy, Divinity and the Grotesque.
Guest Curator, Contemporary Jamaican Film for the Afrika Eye 2012 International Film Festival at the Watershed Media Centre Bristol.
Clown/Musician/Performer for Incandescence International Circus Alice in Wonderland Eid Celebration production in Kuwait City and Istanbul
AUG 2013 – JAN 2014
Commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces and The Royal Collection Trust to create a contemporary site-specific installation as response to the earliest recorded object within Kensington Palace – John Van Nost’s Bust of a Moor (1688). The critically acclaimed Call and Responses – The Odyssey of the Moor was exhibited within the Queens State apartments at Kensington Palace. The Odyssey of the Moor is believed to be the first time the Royal Collection has allowed one of its top 100 objects within its vast inventory to be used within a contemporary art installation.
Member of the Human Revolution Orchestra (HRO) – Modern Jazz Big Band formed with some of the top UK Jazz musicians for International Jazz Day with Guest US Jazz Pioneers Saxophonist Bennie Maupin (Miles Davis) and Trombinist Robin Eubanks (Art Blakey, Sun Ra). Official Poster designer for HRO International Jazz Day events.
Artist-in-Residence for Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music & Dance CoLab Festival 2015 directing an improvisational fusion of visual at with the conservatoires contemporary dance and jazz / classical music students.
One of the Panel Selectors for the RWA 163 Annual Open Exhibition with RWA President Janette Kerr PRWA, RWA Vice President Stephen Jacobson, Stewart Geddes RWA, Ian Middleton RWA, Vera Boele-Keimer, Nicola Bealing RWA, Howard Phipps RWA and Chris Stephens, Head of Displays at Tate Britain
Co Curator Jamaican Pulse – Art and Politics from Jamaica and the Diaspora for The Royal West of England Academy – a major international group-show exhibition of Jamaican and Jamaican-Diaspora artists of international acclaim, delivered in partnership with the Jamaican High Commission, National Gallery of Jamaica and The Bluecoat Liverpool supported by Arts Council England National Funding and the Art Fund.
Relational Ethics and Aesthetics panel discussion for the International Curator Forum / Asia Culture Centre symposium, Curating the International Diaspora for the 2016 Gwangju Biennale, South Korea. Presented current artist practice and addressed how Diaspora artists can radically re-imagine history and meaning of the image and the relationship to a ‘local’ or ‘tourist’ audience.
Commissioned as Artist in Residence by the London Diocese to create the permanent large scale contemporary Reredos (altarpiece) The Eternal Engine for their first new church built in the capital for over 40 years situated Tottenham Hale, St Francis at the Engine Room unveiled November 2017. The Eternal Engine is believed to be the largest contemporary altarpiece in the United Kingdom and Europe.
Invited by the Governers of Chelsea Academy as Summer Artist in Residence, in response to the lack of UK Govt Education funding allocated to young people particularly within London innercity schools. A number of works inspired were created in the month using the art class schoolroom. One of which, entitled Beautiful People Are Not Always Good, But Good People Are Always Beautiful (123cm x 148cm collage, Acrylic, Paper) I have chosen to donate to the academy to create more funding for their Art, Music and Drama department materials needed for students. Contact Chelsea Academy for further details.
Graeme Mortimer Evelyn with The Eternal Engine (2017) Europe’s largest permanent contemporary sculpted altarpiece commissioned by London Diocese for St Francis Church in Hale Village, Tottenham.