Coming soon: WILD APPLES by Serena Korda

21.09.2024 - 05.01.2025
Opening Party: Saturday 21 September 2024, from 6pm

We are thrilled to present Wild Apples, an exhibition by renowned artist and sculptor Serena Korda, curated by George Harwood Smith. Running from September 21, 2024 to January 5, 2025, the exhibition will challenge societal norms surrounding the portrayal of older women.

Wild Apples
Header image credit: Chris Egon Searle

Wild Apples focuses on an underrepresented subject: the older woman, whose portrayal has been a derided and largely hidden figure throughout history. Often associated with the Witch, Hag, or Crone, Serena references this history attempting to reclaim the wild women in ancient stories, who have been lost through patriarchal retelling and distortion. 

Serena's artwork at East Quay delves into womanhood with a particular focus on the transformative phase of menopause. The exhibition will feature a series of newly commissioned sculptures modelled on real, West Country women, each bearing the marks and traces of their lives. It aims to challenge negative stereotypes while questioning the lack of understanding and body shaming which is prevalent in medical institutions. Sculpted from life, Serena also challenges the historical relationship between male artists and female muses. 

The women are dissected, laid bare, and displayed on carved tree trunks, evoking the garden of earthly delights and referencing the ‘Slashed Venus’, hypersexualised diagnostic tools of the 17th Century. The figures are smaller than life-size, conflating representations with woodland Nymphs or Fairy Changelings, popular characters in Greek Mythology and British/Celtic folklore. They stand accompanied by familiars; life-sized woodland creatures fostering a dialogue that challenges the male gaze through a representation of different female bodies. Each sculpture bears the real name of Serena’s muse and are exhibited alongside a prototype based on Serena's own body and likeness, as she herself identifies as someone heading into the early stages of menopause. 

The sculptures are accompanied by 300 hand-painted, cast ceramic apples sourced from local orchards. Symbolic of Somerset, the apple will explore themes of female fertility and its biblical association with 'the forbidden fruit.' The installation weaves a narrative around the ancient Somerset ritual of Wassailing, in which people sing to apple trees warding off evil spirits whilst inviting in good to ensure for a fruitful harvest. Field recordings from recent Wassails form part of a new soundscape and the apples invite viewers into a space between reality and another world. This narrative connects fertility rites with societal expectations during menopause. 

Wild Apples extends into Gallery 2 at East Quay, featuring Serena's film, The Transmitters. Created in 2012. The film explores the fine line between adolescent fan frenzy, freedom of expression, and perceived female hysteria. Drawing inspiration from archival footage of fan-frenzied young women during Beatlemania, the film is interspersed with imagery of the Tarantula spider, alluding to the Italian folk phenomenon Tarantism. This ecstatic dance is performed by women who are “coming of age” who have allegedly been bitten by a spider - the only way to exude its poison is to perform this ritual. In this presentation, alongside her interrogation of the older female figure, Serena comes full circle, from adolescence to menopause - challenging how we see women in some of their most vulnerable times.

About Serena Korda

Serena Korda, born in London in 1979, is a multimedia artist known for her installation-based practice centred around 'world-building.' Her work, heavily influenced by myths, folklore, witchcraft, and magic, reinterprets historical narratives through a feminist perspective, crafting her own distinctive mythology. Using clay as her primary medium, Korda embraces its imperfections and domestic heritage, employing the craft's quiet rebellion to challenge societal norms.

Ritual and its historical ties to violence are recurring themes in Korda's work, as she explores making intangible forces palpable, fostering an environment of care in a world seemingly self-destructing. Her practice challenges anthropocentrism, celebrating the animism of objects while exposing the violence in human actions.

Korda, awarded the Paul Hamlyn Artists Award in 2021, served as the Norma Lipan/BALTIC Fellow in Ceramic Sculpture at Newcastle University from 2016 to 2018. Her extensive exhibition history includes prominent shows at venues like Hayward Gallery, Camden Arts Centre, Glasgow International 2016, Wellcome Collection, Turner Contemporary, and The Tetley. Notable public art commissions include W.A.M.A (2012) and Black Diamond (2015). Recent solo exhibitions feature "Missing Time" at BALTIC Gateshead, "Daughters of Necessity" at The Hepworth Wakefield in 2018, and "Missing Time," a performance for The High Line NYC in 2018.

View more of Serena Korda's work here: Serena Korda

Preview film: Wild Apples by Serena Korda. Film credits: Jesse Roth

Full page image credits: Jesse Roth


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