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Ravensbourne lecturer and visual artist Othello De’Souza-Hartley has released an evocative piece of work exploring grief following the unexpected loss of his father during the Covid-19 pandemic.
His piece ‘Blind, but I can See’ reflects on the notions of stillness, absence and presence. It was commissioned by the art and photography platform Autograph. Othello, who works as a sessional lecturer for our Further Education courses, also sat for an interview with the exhibition’s curator.
The personal and moving work comes at a poignant time in history, one where millions of families across the world are grieving the sudden losses of their own loved ones from a shared cause. Through bans on public gatherings, the pandemic has also robbed people of the typical opportunities to share grief and healing, which adds further gravitas to the work.
In the spring of 2020, shortly before the collaboration with Autograph, Othello unexpectedly lost his father, Nevil Hartley, to Covid-19. It was in the time that followed that he created the project.
It is comprised of an extended self-portrait photographed in his father’s bedroom, capturing the stillness within. It also includes a painting and a film, the latter of which displays a tranquil image of the gently swaying tree outside his apartment window, a sight that invokes feelings of reflection.
The piece was commissioned by Autograph as part of its ‘Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other’ project. Othello is one of 10 UK-based visual artists invited to create works in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Autograph paired each of the artists with a writer who wrote short reflective essays contextualising the artworks. The poet Raymond Antrobus wrote about Othello’s work.
‘Care | Contagion | Community — Self & Other’ will be presented as a two-part exhibition at Autograph's gallery in Shoreditch from late summer 2021 through to spring 2022.
Asked for a quote summing up his work, Othello’s response was simple: “Blind, but I can See.”
You can visit Othello’s Instagram, othellodesouzahartley, to see more of his work.
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