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Emily Speed: Body Builders

Phoenix Gallery

Fri 20 Jan 2017 - Sat 04 Mar 2017


Other Information

Body Builders




Gallery open from 10am-5.30pm daily (excluding Sundays)

Emily Speed: Body Builders

Exeter Phoenix was pleased to present Body Builders, a solo show of recent work by British artist Emily Speed.

Speed is interested in the relationship between people and buildings and her practice explores the body and its relationship to architecture, through sculpture, installation, drawing and performance. She is concerned with how a person is shaped by the buildings they have occupied and with how a person occupies their own psychological space.

The exhibition was the first UK showing of new works that included Body Builders (2016) a video work commissioned by Fort Worth Contemporary Arts in Texas, (USA), which focuses on the relationship between the body and ancient classical architectural forms.

Themes that circle power, gender, status and the symbolic meaning and language of architecture were reflected upon and explored through the abstract narrative of her film. Her costumed protagonists, performed by choreographed dancers, are suggestive of ancient Greek Caryatids (female figures carved in stone that served as architecturally supporting columns) who were liberated here from their traditional weight-bearing, static roles.

Elsewhere in the exhibition, sculptures and wall drawings reference classical architectural forms, including structures that served as hybrid architectural furniture and suggested a fluid, performative, even ritualistic space of interaction and exchange. Their shelves and niches function as a platform for the display of a series of small-scale clay models, which may have suggested a soft remaking or reimagining of monumental stone buildings.

Exhibition Photographs


Associated events

Artists Talk
Sat 11 Feb | 2pm | free 

Join the artist for a talk about her exhibition and wider practice.

Film Screening
Sat 11 Feb | 3.30pm | £4

Following her artist’s talk, Emily Speed will introduce a screening of Peter Greenaway’s 1987 cult classic movie The Belly of an Architect, specially selected to accompany her exhibition.


Our main contemporary art space, exhibiting new work from regional, national and international artists.

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