The Ballad of The White Ship brings together new work by Chris Alton & Liam Geary Baulch and is their first collaboratively produced exhibition. It builds upon the ongoing dialogue that exists between their practices, drawing out various commonalities. These include; recourse to popular and folk culture; humorous engagements with power; and a range of reoccurring political concerns, such as; climate change, notions of ‘Britishness’ and the commons.
The original White Ship was a vessel that sank in the English Channel on 25 November 1120. Amongst those who drowned was the heir to the English throne, William Adelin. His death led to a succession crisis and a period of civil war known as the Anarchy. A ballad concerning the sinking was written by Dante Gabriel
Rossetti and published by the Kelmscott Press (1893-94).
Throughout the exhibition, The White Ship serves as a metaphor for that which catalyses change. In their banners, drawings and posters, Alton & Geary Baulch look to other monarch-less moments throughout British history and the radical ideas that arose from these periods of civil unrest. Their punk cover of Rossetti’s ballad ties the 12th Century Anarchy to The Sex Pistols; debut single, Anarchy in the U.K. (released 26 November 1976). Their next single, titled God Save the Queen, was an anti-monarchy anthem, which attacks the hegemonic structure of monarchy; an emblem of British class hierarchy.
The Ballad of The White Ship retreads various points throughout British history with a view to articulating this country’s future, be it a utopic punk republic or an island steeped in colonial nostalgia. Alton & Geary Baulch are interested in how these moments intersect, collide and inform each other, and how they might be used to
imagine the world that we inhabit in new ways.
Chris Alton’s (b. 1991, Croydon) commissions include; The Billboard, Spit & Sawdust, Cardiff, 2018; and
Adam Speaks, The National Trust, Croome, Worcestershire, 2017. Exhibitions include; Bloomberg New
Contemporaries, Liverpool Biennial & South London Gallery, 2018; EBC019, East Bristol Contemporary,
2018; more of an avalanche, Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge, 2018 (group); You're Surrounded by Me, Turf
Projects, Croydon, 2017 (group); Of the Sea, The Historic Dockyard, Chatham, 2016 (group); Under the
Shade I Flourish, xero, kline & coma, London, 2016 (solo); and Outdancing Formations, Edith-Russ-Haus,
Oldenburg, 2015 (dual, with Marta Popivoda). Awards, bursaries and publications include; Fenton Arts Trust
Bursary 2017; A.P.T Graduate Studio Award 2016; Edith-Russ-Haus Award for Emerging Media Artists 2015;
Lewisham Arthouse Graduate Studio Award 2015; Catlin Guide 2015; and Collyer Bristow Graduate Award
2014. Alton is currently participating in Syllabus III (2017-18) and is a graduate of Middlesex University,
Liam Geary Baulch (b. 1993, London) has exhibited or performed at; Turf Projects, Croydon; TEDxEastEnd,
London; ONCA Gallery, Brighton; The Nunnery Gallery, London (all 2017); The benevolent association of
excellent solutions, London; The Averard Hotel, London; Fat Relic, London; La Fête des Chants de Marins,
Saint-Jean-Port-Joli, Quebec; La Biennale de Sculpture, Quebec; Limbo, London; The PAD, London (all
2016); Lewisham Arthouse, London; Royal Academy of Arts, London (all 2015). Recent publications include;
Love Dance More: Dancing Ecologically, USA (2017). Recent awards, residencies and programmes include;
Into the Wild, Chisenhale Studios, London (2016-2017); Est-Nord-Est Residency, Quebec (2016); Space,
City, Land, Sea: Performance Residency, ONCA, Brighton (2016); The Elke Lacey Award for Textiles (2015).
Geary Baulch is a graduate of Goldsmiths, University of London (2015); and Camberwell College of Art,
University of Arts London (2012).