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The Blue Description Project (2023) is a new experimental version of Derek Jarman’s seminal film, Blue (1993). It features expanded accessibility measures including audio description, creative captions and in-person British Sign Language interpretation.

Event information
About the film

“Moving beyond words.”Time Out      Extraordinary ★★★★★ – The Times

In 1993, Derek Jarman released Blue, an epoch-defining account of AIDS, illness, and the experience of disability in a culture of repressive heteronormativity and compulsory able-bodiedness. Though often referred to as a feature film, Blue never existed exclusively in one medium. It was screened in theatres, simulcast on television and radio, released as a CD, and published as a book, creating opportunities for many different kinds of sensory abilities—visual, aural, and textual—to experience the work.

Conceived by artists and writers Christopher Robert Jones, Liza Sylvestre, and Sarah Hayden, The Blue Description Project creates a new, experimental iteration of Blue on the 30th anniversary of its release and Jarman’s death. Reflecting Blue’s standing as a foundational work of Crip* art, the project challenges ableist hierarchies in art while focusing on the generative possibilities of difference and interdependence.

In 1994, Jarman wrote in Chroma: “If I have overlooked something you hold precious — write it in the margin.” Taking up this invitation to write in the margin, The Blue Description Project builds on the multifaceted nature of Jarman’s work through newly commissioned and expansive accessibility.

*Crip—Cripistemology and the Arts.

The producers of the project wish to thanks everyone who so generously contributed their descriptions to the Blue Description Project. Warm thanks to Elaine Lillian Joseph and Corvyn Dostie. Special thanks to James MacKay, Basilisk Communications, and Zeitgeist Films.

Image credit: Christopher Robert Jones, Liza Sylvestre, Sarah Hayden, Blue Description Project, film still, 2024. Digital movie, captions. 1:20:55. Courtesy of the artists.

A woman wearing glasses and a head-dress sitting in a wood-panelled room.
Onyeka Igwe, A Radical Duet, 2023, HD Video, 28:09 mins. Courtesy the artist.

Onyeka Igwe
history is a living weapon in yr hand
13 January – 2 March 2024

Exhibition preview: Friday 12 January 6-8pm

Bonington Gallery presents history is a living weapon in yr hand, a solo exhibition of new and reconfigured work by London based artist Onyeka Igwe. The exhibition follows Igwe’s acclaimed solo exhibition A Repertoire of Protest (No Dance, No Palaver) at MoMA PS1 in New York, earlier this year, and ahead of her inclusion in the exhibition Nigeria Imaginary at the national pavilion of Nigeria at the Venice Biennale 2024.

The exhibition will be centred around a new two-screen adaptation of Igwe’s dual timeline experimental film A Radical Duet (2023). In 1947 London was a hub of radical anti-colonial activity, with international intellectuals, artists, and activists such as Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and Sylvia Wynter, C L R James, Kwame Nkrumah and George Padmore all in London at this time. Each of them was individually agitating for their respective countries’ national independence, but did they meet, and if so, what did they discuss?

The film features fictional characters inspired by these radical figures. It imagines what happens when two women of different generations, but both part of the post-war independence movement, come together in London to put their fervour and imagination into writing a revolutionary play. The film depicts this process and envisages what that play would look like if staged today.

A film still featuring a man standing in a dark room, with his hands in the air, holding a book in one hand.
Onyeka Igwe, A Radical Duet, 2023, HD Video, 28:09 mins. Courtesy the artist.

The film will be accompanied by elements of the set design and props from the making of A Radical Duet, taking inspiration from the Jamaican writer and cultural theorist, Sylvia Wynter’s ideas on theatrical adaptation. Wynter builds on Brechtian principles of modern epic theatre and advises on how set design can support a theatre to ‘explode [social] fears by bringing them out into the light of day’.

For this exhibition, Igwe will be working with Collective Text, an organisation supporting accessibility in art and film through creative captioning, audio description and interpretation.

history is a living weapon in yr hand is produced in collaboration with Peer Gallery, London, where it will be presented in autumn 2024.

Join us for a free, online talk between Irene Lusztig and Patricia Francis – part of the When I Dare to be Powerful conference.

Free and online via YouTube.

Reserve your place here

Patricia Francis and filmmaker Irene Lusztig will explore and discuss the value of archive in bringing voices and their subjective truths from the past into the present. Irene will also show extracts from a couple of her films including her latest release, Richland.

This is the final in the series of online talks and podcast conversations we have been having as part of the When I Dare To Be Powerful in-person international conference.


Irene Lusztig is a filmmaker, visual artist, archival researcher, and amateur seamstress. Her film and video work mines old images and technologies for new meanings in order to reframe, recuperate, and reanimate forgotten and neglected histories. Often beginning with rigorous research in archives, her work brings historical materials into conversation with the present day, inviting viewers to explore historical spaces as a way to contemplate larger questions of politics, ideology, and the production of personal, collective, and national memories. Much of Irene’s current work is centred on public feminism, language, and histories of women and women’s bodies, including her debut feature Reconstruction (2001) the feature length archival film essay The Motherhood Archives (2013) and the ongoing web-based Worry Box Project (2011). 

Born in England to Romanian parents, Irene grew up in Boston and has lived in France, Italy, Romania, China, and Russia. Her work has been screened around the world, including at the Berlinale, MoMA, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Anthology Film Archives, Pacific Film Archive, Flaherty NYC, IDFA Amsterdam, RIDM Montréal, Hot Docs, AFI Docs, and BFI London Film Festival and on television in the US, Europe, and Taiwan. She has received grants from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Massachusetts Cultural Council, LEF Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts, and Sustainable Arts Foundation and has been awarded fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, the Flaherty Film Seminar, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Harvard’s Film Study Center. She is the 2016-17 recipient of a Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship in Portugal. She teaches filmmaking at UC Santa Cruz where she is Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media; she lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Join us for a free screening of a newly-translated documentary that explores the emergence of performance art in Cuba in the 1980s. The screening will be followed by a conversation with film director and artist Glexis Novoa.

The 1980s was a decade where a new generation of young artists were introducing a radical new artistic language and testing the bounds of the possible and the permissible in the process.

In the late 1970s and the 1980s multiple approaches towards the role and aesthetics of art in a socialist Cuba abounded. One particular strand saw an emerging generation of artists seeking to break free from what they saw as the bureaucratic and ideologically-orientated institutional systems and their ideas about culture. This change in attitude gave rise to a new visual language that prized interdisciplinary practices, multimedia, appropriated and referenced popular culture, religions, regional history and embraced parody and satire.

By the second half of the 1980s the arts were a site of intense discussion about artistic freedom and the nature of genuinely revolutionary art. Performance art played a key role in the articulation of the ideas and concerns of a budding generation.

Please note, this film contains some discussion of sex and nudity.

The film was initially made for the exhibition Losing the Human Form at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, which looked at art in the 1980s in Latin America.

Taking part as part of Bonington Gallery’s Formations programme in partnership with NTU’s Postcolonial Studies Centre.

This multi-channel video installation from internationally-acclaimed photographer Emily Andersen, explores the work and life of Ruth Fainlight (b.1931) – an American-born poet and writer.

Ruth’s intensely visual poetry and fiction touch on themes of psychological and domestic situations, time, memory and loss. Born in New York City in 1931, she moved to England when she was 15. In 1959 she married the writer, Alan Sillitoe, and her many literary friendships included Sylvia Plath, Jane and Paul Bowles, and Robert Graves.

Andersen’s work is an intimate portrait of Fainlight, now aged 91, presenting fragments of the poet’s life. Taking inspiration from Renaissance triptychs and their depiction of different elements of the same subject across three panels, Somewhere Else Entirely captures the poet and writer at her home in London, making notes, on her walks, and in the seaside town of Brighton where she spent her teenage years.

In Somewhere Else Entirely Fainlight talks off-screen, revealing fascinating insights into her life, her creative process, and how she is ‘in the hands of the poem’. In her voiceover, she movingly recites her poem ‘Somewhere Else Entirely’ composed after the death of her husband.

Alongside the exhibition commissioned an essay by Daniella Schreir, editor of the Feminist Film Journal Another Gaze, which can be read here.

Launch event

Come along to our launch night on Friday 24 March, 6 pm – 8 pm for a first look round the exhibition, alongside Nottingham Women’s Centre in our Vitrines. There will also be free food from 6 pm. Book your free tickets

About the Film
About the artist

Emily Andersen is a London-based artist and graduate of the Royal College of Art. Her work has been exhibited in galleries including:

A number of her portraits are in the permanent collection of The National Portrait Gallery, London. She has won awards including the John Kobal prize for portraiture. Her third book Another Place was published in 2023. She is a Senior Lecturer in theory and practice of photography at the Nottingham School of Art & Design at Nottingham Trent University.

Image: Ruth Fainlight by Emily Andersen

Katja Hock is a practising artist and a senior lecturer in Photography in the School of Art and Design at Nottingham Trent University. Her latest exhibition will present a slide installation, Stillness and Silence that has been developed over the last three years.  The work addresses the importance of historical memory to our present perception of our cultural and social context.

As part of this exhibition Katja Hock will be in conversation with Susan Trangmar, Reader in Fine Art, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Located in the Bonington Gallery, this event is open the general public and admission is free.

Wanderlust speaks of the places, real, imagined and metaphorical, that we travel to through our practice as artists, designers, thinkers and educators.  It invokes the desire to wander exploring the world as we find it, often straying from the path and discovering a new route.

This exhibition is a snapshot survey of experimental practice across the range of disciplines in the School of Art & Design. The works featured demonstrate the complex process of creation undertaken by practitioner / researchers within the School community including academic, technical and support staff.  Wanderlust is curated as a dialogic space, where varied and diverse practices are placed in proximity to each other, opening up possibilities of new discourses, collaborations and projects.  A series of events will tease and test out these possibilities starting with the private view on Wednesday 12 January 2011.

Twenty Six Years Later from Professor Lei Cox consists of a multiple of new photographs, new video installations and some retrospective video and photography pieces dating from 1985.

Lei’s early work strived to find surreal and unusual in a pre-digital world, starting with raw and untreated shots. Sometimes these were carefully staged, as he cheated with light and shadow. The vast possibilities of blue-screen super impositions, digital effects snd digital sound processing later influenced his work, allowing him to create complete surrealism with Hollywood-like special effects.

His ;later work moved away from this notion, questioning reality against the synthetic. New ideas were contemplated and realised: videos were shot on location in the real world; all single takes, no special effects, and “pure”.

Audio/visual invites conversations about the significance and impact of visual communication (art, design, imagery, media, advertising, maps) and audio communication through music, but also the impact of language choice, and conversation. Events in this segment foreground meaning conveyed by music and art, and invite attention to global artists working in experimental ways with sound and the visual arts.

The Formations programme is an online series of free, public events led by the Postcolonial Studies Centre at Nottingham Trent University in collaboration with Bonington Gallery. The series foregrounds the work of underrepresented writers, academics, artists, intellectuals and activists worldwide who address inequalities of all kinds, often bringing people from different places and working practices together for important conversations.

Explore the craft of film making with Andrew Graves

Friday 6 May 2022, 7 – 8 pm

Ever wondered how you might increase your understanding of cinema? This one-off workshop will offer you the chance to examine films and their content more clearly, giving you the tools to analyse movies and their messages. Including plenty of clips, case studies, and discussion, we will deconstruct imagery, character and visual metaphor affording you the opportunity to appreciate Hollywood and beyond with a deeper understanding of the film making craft.

This workshop is online via Microsoft Teams, spaces are limited.

Listening with our feet… Kate McMillan in Conversation with Sophie Fuggle

Wednesday 11 May 2022, 7 – 8 pm

In this online event, artist Kate McMillan will be talking about various projects exploring the postcolonial legacies of former penal colonies, prison islands alongside the ongoing use of extraterritorial detention by countries such as Australia and the United States. We will be talking about of the notion of ‘listening with my feet’ – listening as a decolonial tool on contested ground, and the influence of indigenous thinking on McMillan growing up in Australia. We will also explore McMillan’s collaborative work with Cat Hope considering ways in which systemic silencing of those both displaced and detained as part of colonial and neocolonial modes of government might be listened to differently.

Watch this event on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

An evening of Sound and Conversation with The Venus Bushfires

Wednesday 15 June 2022, 7 – 8.30 pm

Join us for an evening of music with The Venus Bushfires, interluded with a conversation with Bethan Evans.

The Venus Bushfires is a creative collective of one and many, of which Helen Epega is the only constant member. The Nigerian-British singer-songwriter, composer and performance artist explores the ethereal sounds of the ‘hang’, the power of the talking drum and the quirks of children’s toys cross-fertilising multiple visual and musical styles.

This event will take place at Bonington Gallery.

Watch this event on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

Reading: This One Sky Day by Leone Ross

Friday 24 June 2022, 7 – 8 pm

Join us to hear Leone Ross read from her latest novel, This One Sky Day, in discussion with Bethan Evans.

Leone Ross is a novelist, short story writer, editor/copy-editor, and reviewer of fiction. She was born in Coventry England, and when she was six years old migrated with her mother to Jamaica, where she was raised and educated. After graduating from the University of the West Indies in 1990, Ross returned to England to complete a Master’s degree in International Journalism at City University, in London, where she now lives. Ross’s writing is genre-bending and world-tilting, revelling in the magical realist and surrealist.

10 randomly selected people signed up to the event will receive a free copy of This One Sky Day. This event will be online via YouTube Live.

Watch this event on the Bonington Gallery YouTube channel.

5 Curators. 5 Exhibitions of moving image.

Five by Five: Unloud 

Curator: Professor Duncan Higgins, Nottingham Trent University

Northern Russia has been described as being shrouded in a rare serene stillness and beauty undermined by the decaying presence of evil. Unloud looked at this idea: a place of limits, a frontier or an extreme situation incorporating the extremes of climate, geography and nature, faith, brutality, beauty and fantasy.

Five by Five: Presenting Absence: Moving Images of Palestine

Curator: Dr Anna Ball, Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Nottingham Trent University

A lost homeland, a dispossessed population, a missing film archive: images of absence haunt Palestinian national consciousness. Bringing together works by leading film-makers and video artists, this exhibition explored the dynamic relationship between presence and absence in moving images from or about Palestine.

Five by Five: Chromista 

Curators: Geoff Litherland and Jim Boxall, School of Art & Design, Nottingham Trent University

Chromista are water organisms that photosynthesise, taking advantage of any light that breaks through the surface. Likewise the films that were selected for Chromista exploit the physical surface of the projected image; light and imagery is abstracted to create works whose process of creation dictates the final image.

Five by Five: Alumni Filmmakers

A showcase of work from the narrative to the abstract, each day focussed on a different artist. A group of Nottingham Trent University School of Art and Design alumni film-makers were invited to screen one of their own works and two further short films which have either influenced or compliments their chosen piece.

Five by Five: Water, love runs down

Curator: Jenny Chamarette, Department of Film Studies, Queen Mary, University of London

Water has the capacity to distort and magnify light and sound: it bends and reshapes these elemental parts of the moving image to create something altogether different from what we might usually experience. In this programme drawn from moving image artists, filmmakers and public information broadcasts, water is both an inspiration and a distraction, for viewers and filmmakers alike.