Behind-the-scenes at Saatchi Gallery’s Artist-in-Residence exhibit

A creative collaboration between STUDIOS and Agilité at the Saatchi Gallery.

A much talked about 175m² contemporary exhibit has come to life at London’s prestigious Saatchi Gallery, thanks to the creative collaboration between artist, architect and contractor.

Saatchi Gallery aims to bring contemporary art to a wider audience by providing an innovative platform for emerging international and local artists. For this year’s Artist-in-Residence, British artist Kate Daudy was invited to respond to the Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh exhibition, 2 November – 3 May. Her brief was to open discourses on the key themes of afterlife and existence, and the legacies we leave behind.

Following extensive research and exploration, Daudy’s multi-media installation – It Wasn’t That At All – now sits on the top floor of the Saatchi Gallery in Gallery 14 and draws on her own relationship with home, identity, faith, absence and loss.

To bring the fascinating stories of Ancient Egypt and modern London alive, Daudy collaborated with international design practice STUDIOS Architecture and Parisian-headquartered build specialist Agilité Solutions.

Continuously brainstorming with Kate Daudy and the Saatchi Gallery Director, Phillipa Adams, the team spent two weeks on their behind-the-scenes pre-installation design and production before the two-day fit out at the Saatchi Gallery.

The unusual yet simple space is modular by design which satisfied the tight timescales for the project, gave Daudy flexibility as she brought her interpretive brief to life, and allows the space to be reshaped for her immersive show. Everything was also consciously designed to be transportable and reusable.

A video wall with Egyptian eyes vividly staring out from TVs and telephones welcomes gallery visitors and invites them to consider the core themes common to the hastily buried 3,500-year old Egyptian king and each of us today.

Guests are then encouraged to move through a series of interconnected spaces including Daudy’s own temporary studio which will play host to a series of participative workshops; installation pieces using her signature appliqué woollen felt technique; a sculptural floor installation of the White Nile; a fireworks triptych representing Daudy’s first experience of losing a loved one; modern-day surgical instruments juxtaposed with works representing traditional mummification practices; live footage from a heart bypass; a small city of empty plinths and display cases dedicated to noted absence; and a final area which examines the legacies we leave behind.

Commenting on the efforts of all involved, artist Kate Daudy said: “I am incredibly passionate about making ancient Egypt more broadly accessible which I hope comes across in each installation and episode. I am extremely grateful that STUDIOS and Agilité shared this commitment to making the ambitious installation a reality and am in awe that – as a team – we have completed everything, without compromise, ready for the November unveiling. These two organisations made the impossible, possible.”

Commenting on Daudy’s work, cultural historian Marina Warner said: “Daudy is interested in illuminating power structures and using the visual arts as a means of bringing about discourse that might contribute toward social and political change. Although disruptive, her work is full of optimism.”

Philly Adams, Director at Saatchi Gallery, adds: “Inviting Daudy and de Commarque to be artist-in–residence at the Saatchi Gallery has led to two very exciting interventions. Our programme set out to explore the key themes of afterlife and existence reflecting the story of King Tutankhamun. Both installations open a discourse on the nature of life, drawing on the past and looking into the future.”

Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh celebrates the centenary of the tomb’s discovery and represents the final opportunity to see these world heritage artefacts before they return to Egypt forever. The exhibition runs from 2 November 2019 until 3 May 2020.

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