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Unlimited Global Alchemy

Rachel Gadsden

© Rachel Gadsden

Unlimited Global Alchemy began life in Khayelitsha Township, Cape Town through a residency led by artist Rachel Gadsden (UK) in collaboration with the Bambanani artist-activist Group (SA). Over six exciting weeks a large number of drawings, sketchbooks and paintings were created, and a series of portraits directed by Gadsden were made with filmmakers Deborah May and Cliff Bestall.

Fuelled by the politics and myths surrounding chronic health issues – in particular HIV/AIDS – this startling body of work offers visceral and often poetic perspectives on what it means to experience disabling conditions and to fight openly for life in the face of social taboos.

The results of Gadsden’s unique association with the Bambanani now come to the UK, together with a further series of her artworks, a specially commissioned catalogue and a new performance created in response to the Cape Town collaboration.

The performance, co-directed by Gadsden and choreographer Athina Vahla, featuring performers Freddie Opoku-Addaie and Sarah Chin and Gadsden creating visual art live on stage, premieres at the Southbank. They are joined by Michael Mannion (lighting); Chas De Swiet and Paul Gundry (sound); Mamoru Iriguchi (design).

The limited edition catalogue, edited by Andrew Mitchelson and designed by David Caines, carries images of artworks, a DVD and texts including a foreword by South African author Jonny Steinberg. It is available through venue bookshops and Artsadmin’s bookshop.

At the heart of this life-affirming and timely collaboration is a celebration of survival against the odds.

The Bambanani Group, led by Nondumiso Hlwele, are Noloyiso Balintulo, Bongiwe Mba, Thozama Ndevu, Thobani Ncapai and Zodwa Somlayi.

Produced by Artsadmin, Unlimited Global Alchemy has been commissioned by the Unlimited programme, part of the London 2012 Festival; launching at the Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology in Cambridge and culminating at Southbank Centre during the Paralympic Games in London.


Date Title Venue City
5 September 2012 Unlimited Global Alchemy : Performance, Screening and Talk Southbank Centre London
3 September 2012 Unlimited Global Alchemy : Body Mapping Workshop Southbank Centre London
2 September 2012 Hidden or Hiding? Exploring the Options and Consequences for Artists with Hidden Impairments Southbank Centre London
31 August – 9 September 2012 Unlimited Global Alchemy : Exhibition Southbank Centre London
30 August 2012 Unlimited Global Alchemy : Screening and Talk The Bluecoat Liverpool
23 June – 18 August 2012 Unlimited Global Alchemy : Exhibition Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Cambridge
23 June 2012 Unlimited Global Alchemy : Screening and Talk Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Cambridge
© Rachel Gadsden