Review: To Be Conceived exhibition with artist Wonderbarbee

Prison cell at the Old Police Station, London New Cross
Miss Anchor by Wonderbarbee, picture credits Wonderbarbee

By Paola Bassanese


An old police station may not seem an obvious choice for an art exhibition. Yet, for some quirky coincidence, artist Barbara Fagiolo aka Wonderbarbee has already exhibited in former prison cells twice. The first time was in Italy as part of a multi-media installation featuring her works of art, dance and music. Wonderbarbee showed a video of that installation during her artist’s talk on Sunday 17th March. The video featured the former prison, now a C.S.O.A. (aka Centro Sociale or community centre) in Forte Prenestino in Rome.


The installation was called PEZZOUNICO (Unique Piece) in collaboration with the MAddAI dance company. Dancers improvised a choreography based on Wonderbarbee’s portraits of each dancer. When she showed the video during the artist’s talk the audience was completely captivated, it was truly a unique performance.


The second time Wonderbarbee exhibited in a former prison was in South East London at the To Be Conceived exhibition.


Miss Anchor

Her piece, Miss Anchor, was aimed at getting the public to interact with the installation, which even came with instructions.


Wonderbarbee’s intention was to get the viewer to stop, think, observe and experience. An artist takes time in creating her pieces and therefore the viewer shouldn’t rush when at an exhibition.


The artist invited the public to take a seat, have a tangerine (provided!), look at the painting, make a wish, draw or write in the visitor’s book inside the suitcase describing the feelings of having the experience, and then choose a tiny envelope from a box. The envelope contained a little surprise: a small pin with a print from the Wonderbarbee illustrations collection.


Wonderbarbee, in her instructions, said that the gift was from Miss Anchor herself, no less!


The theme of the installation was playfulness and recapturing the essence of childhood, of being carefree and exploring one’s artistic side. It was fun and interactive and more installations will follow with the same theme as part of the Boogie Souls project.


See more of Wonderbarbee’s work on her blog and website.