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Lali Chetwynd

Born Free, a new commission for Gasworks Gallery is Lali Chetwynd’s most ambitious work to date and will involve a cast of players and a large scale installation, in which a key scene from the well known 1966 film Born Free, will be re-enacted. Chetwynd and her collaborators will act out the moving story of Joy Adamson and her husband, Kenya game warden George Adamson, who raised a wild lion cub named Elsa. When Elsa approaches maturity, Joy determines she must re-educate Elsa to living in the wild so that the lioness can return to a free life. Born Free will see Gasworks Gallery transformed into a jungle, complete with a cast of exotic animals who will interact with the audience as the piece progresses.

Chetwynd’s practice as an artist explores representations and expressions of ugliness, unfamiliarity, humour and the creation of cultural icons. Working in painting, collage and large-scale collaborative performance, Chetwynd recreates iconic moments from the histories of both art and cinema re-enacting them in a deliberately improvised and amateurish style. Previous works have taken stories from familiar popular films such as Conan the Barbarian, cult classics such as Fountainhead and the legendary music video, Thriller by Michael Jackson. This practice also takes in re-workings of well known performance art works, such as Yves Klein’s famed ‘Anthropometries’ painting performance.Chetwynd’s performance works are always created with a team of collaborators who take part as characters and are sometimes only informed of their roles hours before the performance begins. As a result, the theatrical tableaux that Chetwynd creates have an atmosphere of carnival and a feeling of orchestrated misbehaviour. The costumes that Chetwynd creates are integral to the performances and are constructed from lo-fi materials and found objects, and often add humour to the proceedings.

Chetwynd has staged performances as part of Tate/Egg Live 2003, at Tate Britain; Evidence at the Essor Gallery Project Space; and at Nerd, Electricity Showrooms, Shoreditch. She co-curated Gatsby, a group show including sixty nine artists at the New Lansdowne Club in Hackney, and has been included in a number of group shows, including Picture Room at Gasworks Gallery, An Evening With Jabba the Hut at The International 3, Manchester, and the forthcoming New Contemporaries in Liverpool.


Lali Chetwynd is represented by Millers Terrace.