Project Space, Anna Bunting-Branch: A Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World

Anna Bunting-Branch

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A Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World is new commission by London-based artist Anna Bunting-Branch. The work, a wall-based painting object, takes the form of a toy theatre building on Bunting-Branch’s practice of using painting, moving image and writing to explore feminist visions and re-visions of history.

The work draws its title and imagery from Margaret Cavendish’s utopian fantasy A Description of a New World, Called the Blazing World, a proto-science fiction novel written in 1666. This novel details the journey of a ship-wrecked woman who is transported into an adjoining world called The Blazing World by a tempest. In this world, she journeys through lands populated by half-man-half-animal figures -philosophers, astronomers and chemists. Eventually arriving to be presented to the Emperor, the woman becomes Empress and goes on to rule over The Blazing World. The different layers of the painting object relate to the stages of this journey as it unfolds in time, focussing on the landscape in which the narrative is staged. The work is framed by two depictions of Margaret Cavendish herself, playfully alluding to the fact that the author writes herself into her own story as the Empress’ scribe and confidante.

Anna Bunting-Branch is interested in the imaginative potential of re-staging texts. The toy theatre, which gained popularity from the late-18th century as a form of domestic entertainment, offers the artist an opportunity to re-stage Cavendish’s novel outside its time. Typically they were hand painted and assembled in the home, allowing the popular plays of the day to be re-performed for family members and guests. The toy theatre also makes a playful connection to Jerwood Space, primarily a dance and theatre rehearsal space.

Project Space provides exhibition and development opportunities to emerging artists offering a small grant to develop new experimental work for exhibition in the unique environment of Café 171 at Jerwood Space, adjacent to the galleries. Since 2004 it has presented new work from artists including Luke McCreadie, Alice May Williams, Paul Schneider, Rhys Coren, Emma Charles, Alec Kronacker, Meg Mosley, Sara Nunes Fernandes, Johann Arens, Matthew Johnstone, Katie Schwab and Jamie George, Ben Senior, Ralph Dorey, Mindy Lee, Patrick Coyle, Gemma Anderson, Annabel Tilley, Alice Browne, and Holly Antrum.

Anna Bunting-Branch, New World, Called the Blazing World, 2015 . Image: