Olu Ogunnaike, Fix Your Face at Spike Island

Spike Island, 133 Cumberland Road, Bristol, BS1 6UX

Tel: +44 (0) 1179292266

Add Olu Ogunnaike, Fix Your Face at Spike Island to your Itinerary

Olu Ogunnaike solo exhibition


A site-specific commission by Olu Ogunnaike that combines handmade OSB, charcoal screen prints and silt from the river Avon with charred objects recovered from the recent fire at Underfall Yard, a historic boatyard near Spike Island.

The centrepiece of the commission is a monumental, curved wall that morphs and extends the existing architecture of Spike Island’s galleries. The wall is made from handmade OSB (oriented strand board) that transforms offcuts of different species of wood into a standardised building material. It is layered with glossy white paint that gradually fades to a thin layer of roughly applied, white-washed mud collected from the Avon riverbed and, eventually, no coating at all. Running floor-to-ceiling, the wall becomes more and more pared back as you walk along it, slowly revealing the natural colours and fibres of the many varieties of wood that have been used to build it.

At the near end of the wall, where it runs parallel to a permanent wall, forming a corridor, several red, green and blue lights shine directly on the shimmering surface. This produces refracted colour-shadows in cyan, magenta, yellow and black: the four ‘process printing’ colours that can be used to reproduce any colour on the spectrum. The lights create silhouettes of audiences’ movements through the space, and of the contorted metal shelves that stand in the corridor. The shelves were salvaged from the recent fire at Underfall Yard, a historic boatyard near Spike Island. Like the wood offcuts used to construct the wall, they no longer serve their intended purpose. And yet both the wall and the shelves echo organic forms resonate with the traditional craft skills practiced at the boatyard: the curved wall being reminiscent of a boat’s hull, and the shelves standing upright like barren trees, the raw material of boat building.

The title of the exhibition, Fix Your Face, refers to the fact that two key materials in the show, mud and charcoal, are used in facial treatments to conceal imperfections. As Ogunnaike sees it, this is similar to the surface-level treatments that are being applied by local and central governments to patch up the deep wounds of the UK’s deteriorating industrial traditions.

Free entry

Image credit: Olu Ogunnaike, 'You are here' (2021) CAPC musée d'art contemporain de Bordeaux. Photograph by Arthur Péquin. Courtesy the artist and CAPC, Bordeaux

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Date of Event

Opening Times

Season (3 Feb 2024 - 5 May 2024)


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