Samra Mayanja: The Living and the Stale

10 Feb – 04 Jun 2023

The Tetley , Leeds

As part of the Jerwood Tetley Commissions programme, Samra Mayanja presents The Living and the Stale.

The Jerwood Tetley Commissions offer three artists or curators based in the North of England the opportunity to develop a significant body of work or curate a group exhibition with the support of a dedicated mentor, a research & development budget and institutional backing. At the end of 2020, we announced Emily Hesse, Samra Mayanja and ROOT-ed Zine as the selected artists / curators.

Exploring the idea of lostness, Samra Mayanja presents The Living and the Stale, a new body of work in the form of a novella, installations, drawings, a score and moving image work.

Open at The Tetley 10 February – 4 June, the exhibition brings together Samra’s poetry and images made whilst travelling around Uganda searching; searching for bark cloth and Ham Mukasa’s archive but also being met by her father’s history.

Samra’s research centres secretary-scribe Ham Mukasa (c.1870–1956). In 1902, Ham wrote a text entitled Uganda’s Katikiro in England which documented the journey of Buganda’s prime minister to England, for Edward VII’s coronation. This is one of the first travel diaries written by an African person coming to Europe.

Samra’s interest in Ham is his ability to poetically frame – for himself and the reader – that which he had never seen. The images he constructs oscillate between rolling observation, absurd (mis)translations and compelling diaristic accounts.

Audiences will be guided through galleries which are treated as the inside of a ‘dispersed film’, playing out these journeys as scattered, stuck and expanded narratives.

The Jerwood Tetley Commissions are part of our Development Programme Fund that provides funding for arts organisations who, with vision and skill, can deliver transformational development opportunities for artists, curators and/or producers.

Samra Mayanja, still from Scripted for a Wayward Narrator, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.