Portrait. Frances Aviva Blane 2020
Installation shot by Natasha Roffe

They couldn’t be more different. Frances Aviva Blane is notorious for her “shock doctrine”; Claudia Clare’s decorated pots convey a contemplative serenity. Could they possibly work together?  

With her current show, Zuleika Gallery founder Lizzie Collins has banished this sceptical thought.

Zuleika Gallery: photo Tim Peters Design

Fragmented highlights how two female artists reacted to the pandemic. By pairing them in a clash of opposites Collins has created an symbiotic relationship.

Blane never aspires to storytelling. Her canvases and drawings are blunt, immediate and physical. Even a smile becomes an agonised scream.  They inflict pain, but somehow, somehow extracting beauty out of horror. As filmmaker Penny Woolcock has said: “she conveys the terror and excitement of entering a liminal space and makes us want to be brave”. Hanging her emotions out to dry Blane is the fool who has rushed in where angels fear to tread.

By way of contrast, the faces, figures and landscapes on Clare’s pots tell the stories of her intimate circle. The colours are muted: soft greens, blues and whites, conveying tranquility and the comfort of loved ones. Clare sought to overcome the agony of separation by surrounding herself with the faces of those she couldn’t reach in person. The upright roundness of her pots feels almost like a human figure.

And, surprisingly, the sunlit space up a tiny staircase in St James radiates a mysterious energy and healing power. It is like….

the pairing of two Force-sensitive beings, making them one in the Force. The power of a dyad was as strong as life itself, and the individuals who formed a dyad shared a connection that spanned across space and time.

WOOKIEEPEDIA: The Star Wars Wiki

Caught by the second lockdown, Zuleika Gallery had to close its doors prematurely. But in the brief intermezzo, the impossible pairing inspired designer Tim Peters and writer Natasha Roffe to capture the show in their lenses.

Exhibition catalogue, with an essay by Susie Orbach

Zuleika Gallery is at 6 Masons Yard, St James’s, London SW1Y 6BU


dyad/ˈdʌɪad/noun
TECHNICAL: something that consists of two elements or parts
“the mother–child dyad”
MATHEMATICS: an operator which is a combination of two vectors
STAR WARS: Force dyad