A Simple Act of Wonder launches with Fabrica Gallery

Visual arts

Brighton Festival’s 2020 co-commission with Fabrica has launched with an interactive online exhibition on the gallery’s website.

A Simple Act of Wonder was originally due to open in April as part of Brighton Festival 2020 but due to the coronavirus pandemic the project took an unexpected turn and artists, Walter & Zoniel continued to work on the project throughout lockdown in their studio.

The project was intended as a collaboration with the communities of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, with Walter & Zoniel spending the early part of 2020 getting to know the residents and local organisations to help develop their work. All of the works respond to the stories that they gathered from the people they met and the architectural character and history of the place.

At Fabrica’s gallery in central Brighton, Walter & Zoniel have applied a brightly coloured installation across the floors, walls and architecture of the former church. The culture and community of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean are displayed through painted photographic images, films and objects loaned by residents that connect the two places together. 

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, Fabrica remains closed and the exhibition can only be accessed online here. Digital visitors can explore a fully immersive gallery experience with 360 films of the space and of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean locations, interviews with the artists and a map of the outdoor artworks.

Since lockdown restrictions were lifted the artists were able to install work with local residents and community groups to create a trail of colour on buildings and outdoor spaces. Drawing on their love of colour, portraiture, humour and their boundless curiosity about people and the stories they tell, the artwork invite us into the lives of others, asking us to examine our attitudes about other people and the mythologies or reputations that stick to some places.

Walter & Zoniel explain their process:

“The outdoor works in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean celebrate areas of the city that have a wealth of fascinating stories, which we have drawn inspiration from in creating a new narrative whilst exploring the nature of connectedness and concept of representation. We have used our favourite tools of playfulness and surrealism on a large scale to engage people in the wonder that is naturally present around us, but maybe less often observed. We hope that the communities in these areas we have created the works will enjoy them for now and others can visit when they are able.”

Throughout the summer, visitors can safely view the outdoor public artworks painted on people’s homes, the Bevvy community pub, The Good News shop, St George’s Hall and a large painting also sits on the grass of The Avenue. 

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive of Brighton Festival added:

“We were so saddened to have to cancel Brighton Festival 2020 so it’s incredible to see this project come to fruition. Congratulations to Walter & Zoniel for continuing to make work during lockdown and to residents and community groups in Moulsecoomb and Bevendean who have kept this the project alive. It’s testament to the fact that art can bring people together through hard times and I hope local communities, as well as visitors to the online exhibition will enjoy this joyful and hopeful artwork over the coming weeks.” 

A series of free, online events are taking place throughout August, including artists talks and tours of the artworks.

A Simple Act of Wonder – Artist-led Tour | Thu 6 Aug, 12pm
Live Online Discussion: Conversation Piece - Suburb and City | Fri 7 Aug, 2pm
Watchalong Films: The Fall/Dislocation Blues | Wed 19 Aug, 6.30pm
Zoom Discussion: A Simple Act of Wonder - Walter & Zoniel Artist Talk | Thu 20 Aug, 6.30pm
Walter & Zoniel’s Art Meditation | Thu 27 Aug, 7pm