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  • Writer's pictureYumi La Blanca

Wearing the weight of Spanish heritage - ‘Hybrida’ at Bow Open Show

The Bow Open Show is back at Nunnery Gallery. After the inevitable cancellation last year, the annual local exhibition came back strong to welcome artists and art-enthusiasts alike.

Based in Bow Arts studios, creators and their works were selected and curated by Leyla Reynolds, who is also an artist herself, to demonstrate the power of arts and our resilience against the suffering experience of pandemic. The exhibition hosts such a variety of artworks, culturally, ethnically and politically, representing the diversity of East London and the dynamisms of contemporary art styles.


Among them, the most eye-catching is the red dress entitled ‘Hybrida’ by Isabel Castro Jung, which instantly grabs your attention as soon as you enter the venue:

Apparently inspired by Spanish culture, possibly flamenco, the hybrid of dress and sculpture solidly sits on the floor with the weight of numerous layers of castanets attached on its skirt. The heaviness indicates the fact that we must carry our cultural and individual histories upon us throughout our lives. Although visually attractive, you wouldn’t imagine that this is actually wearable, but it is! In fact, the concept of ‘performing sculpture’ is the main theme of the artist Isabel Castro Jung.

I was fortunate to be present at the opening night and witness the performance by a male dancer actually wearing this ‘Hybrida’, who could physically bear such a heavy dress of approximately 50 kgs. It wasn’t what you’d expect as Spanish Dance, but his shaman-like moves interestingly created mesmerising soundwaves of cranky noises from the attached castanets (the whole performance can still be found on the Instagram account of Bow Arts).

If you’re a Spanish Dance enthusiast like me, this imaginative dress would make you think about the role of dance costume - it could be an armour, a protection, even an obstacle, or a useful tool of expression, an extension of your body, a representation of your thought and style, etc. I mean, we might prefer a lighter dress to actually dance with, though...

Worth a visit

There are also so many other varied artworks to be appreciated at this Bow Open Show. Personally, I was especially fascinated with ‘Disturbance’ by Tom Foulsham, creating water ripples in a mirror to reflect them on the ceiling. Before it ends on 19th December, pay a visit or two to enjoy the collective joy of arts and support the local artists as well as the lovely Nunnery Gallery. The danceable sculpture welcomes you as well as many inspiring others.

Bow Open Show 2021 - Nunnery Gallery

Isabel Castro Jung


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