Friday Dispatch – 25 November 2022
Vardaxoglou Gallery, Soho
14 October – 17 December 2022
Tanoa Sasraku (b. 1995) is known for her ongoing research into her personal relationship to the memories, mythologies, and energy stored within the British rural and coastal landscapes. During her unsettled youth in Plymouth, Sasraku found solace and a sense of freedom in the close-by windswept moorlands of Dartmoor. Her first solo-exhibition in London at Vardaxoglou Gallery focuses on her Terratypes, a recent series of works on paper which can be described as sculptural hybrids of painting, drawing, collage, and printmaking. Presented at Spike Island, Bristol, in a major solo-show this summer for the first time, they continue the young artist’s exploration of British geology and topography that is informed by her perspective as a lesbian artist of British-Ghanaian background.
Each of Sasraku’s Terratypes is comprised of several sheets of blank newsprint which she hand-stains with million-year-old earth pigments foraged from landscapes significant to her. For example, we can see rich orange pigment from Dartmoor or yellow ochre from the Isle of Skye. She then machine stitches the stacks of paper together before soaking them in rivers, seawater, and bogs. After that, the artist carefully tears away strips of paper so the colour-saturated and patterned layers beneath become visible, revealing the materiality and memory of the land, like microchips storing data.
When taking an intimate look at the ancient and mysterious looking collages, the staggered shards of paper reveal a recurring embossed or printed geometric pattern — a motif deriving from a Scottish tartan, inspired by her Caledonian partner. The blocky design also relates to electrical circuitry and the flow of a deep-rooted energy that seems to radiate from the collages.
Her working process involves laborious pattern-cutting, which draws on her Ghanian heritage. For example, the fringed border of the Terratypes resemble the textile application of the Fante Asafo flags of Coastal Ghana. Whilst light-brown walnut frames host the brighter Terratypes, such as Redgate Terratype, 2022, which speak to the artist, reminding her of life on the coast, the series Mire Horse, 2022, is presented in dark-brown frames, referring to the cycle of death and decay that is essential to the moors.
Her sculptural hybrids present a new way of engaging with the landscape. They can be understood as unique portraits of the geological diversity of the British countryside, mapping unexpected connections between rural environments, buried histories, personal emotional memories, and the energy stored in earth.
She uses foraged ancient mineral pigments to infuse her work with the land itself. By inscribing herself as a lesbian woman of colour into the remote landscape, she powerfully questions notions of ownership over the British countryside. Tanoa Sasraku’s Terratypes skilfully tie together textile traditions of both her Ghanaian and British heritage.
7 Royalty Mews (Dean Street), Soho, London, W1D 3AS
Opening Times: Wednesday to Saturday, 11am–6pm
Exhibition open until 17 December 2022