Pie Herring on ‘Fortitude’

Pie Herring has had some highly successful showings in exhibitions including the ‘Young London Painters’ group show in November 2018, the Royal Scottish Academy’s New Contemporaries Exhibition 2019, and recently at the High Line Nine gallery in New York’s exhibition ‘The Art of Resilience’. Now, she is having her debut solo show in London at 94-96 Wigmore Street. The exhibition will feature two series, including ‘Fortitude’, which she created while working with at Lewa Wildlife conservation park in Kenya, documenting the effects of Covid-19 on the rural communities there.

‘Fortitude’ is your first solo exhibition in London. How have you found the experience of preparing for it?

It’s definitely been a ride! The show came about in quite an unconventional manner; back in September I decided to approach a number of empty store fronts for exhibition space. I was thrilled when 94-96 Wigmore Street invited me to use the building to showcase ‘Fortitude’. This being a self-initiated project, I’ve learnt first- hand how much goes into hanging work in a space. Also, as I was offered the space three months ago it’s been a relatively short amount of time to work out the show which has meant a lot of late nights in the studio and a copious amount of coffee, but I can tell you that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it!

You are showing two series at this exhibition. Would you like to go into a little more detail about what ties together the two series?

 Yes, so at it’s basis the show comprises two bodies of figurative paintings. The first collection was made during the earlier half of 2021 whilst on a six-month trip to Kenya, and the second was made in the latter half of the year and is inspired by footage of protests, memorials and vigils in London. Its become very clear to me in the last year how much an environment can inspire the direction of my work, and this becomes very evident when observing the two collections in Fortitude; the Kenyan portraits are vivid in colour with emphasis placed on the light, whilst the works made in the winter months of London are more muted in tone and have an almost industrial aesthetic.

What brought about your visit to the Lewa Wildlife conservation reserve?

In December 2021, Lewa Wildlife invited myself and eight other British and Kenyan Artists to create artwork detailing the impact that the Covid 19 virus, and the subsequent lack of tourism, has had on the rural communities surrounding the park. This is because Lewa itself is an organisation which heavily invests in these low-income communties by providing access to water, health education, and much more. The tourism shutdown significantly stunted access to this support and Lewa decided to raise awareness of these issues by asking artists to tell the stories of those who would be most impacted.

 Covid-19 is a running theme in the two series you have created here as you depict how it has affected your subjects, but do you feel the pandemic has had an affect on your own artistic process?

 Yes I do, I have seen my recent work become a lot more experimental. I’ve felt a greater urge break away from traditional ways of making paintings. Many of the works on display in ‘Fortitude’ play with dimensionality, you can observe artworks where the paint has spilled and been sculpted out onto the frame. I find it interesting that while we are living in a time of increasing restrictions i’ve felt the urge to break free from the limitations imposed by the edges of the canvas.

Your debut solo show in London is very impressive. Do you have any future plans for building off the series that you are presenting here?

Yes definitely, I’m very excited about the new direction that my work is taking and I’m keen to continue the exploration with painting beyond the confines of the canvas

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