NOW Gallery has announced My Head Is A Jungle by Birmingham-born illustrator Manjit Thapp as its Young Artist Commission 2021.
Available to view for free from 23rd July – 31st October, this annual commission celebrates the best rising talent in the fields of visual arts and illustration, with previous commissions including award-winning Pakistani visual artist and internet sensation Sara Shakeel and popular London illustrator, Hattie Stewart.
My Head Is A Jungle will see Thapp transform the gallery space into a three-dimensional maze-like structure adorned with large-scale murals and sculptures for visitors to explore, with a large fluorescent red sun hanging above. This symbol is an integral theme of the young illustrators’ renderings, as well as snakes, tigers, tropical flora and a young Asian protagonist, which feature regularly to represent empowerment, particularly for women, within today’s modern, cultural landscape.
As guests meander through this created jungle with an abundance of greenery, weaving amongst the artist’s physical scrapbook of collected emotions, they are invited to explore experiences that gather within everyone’s own minds. From overgrowing thoughts, tangled feelings, suppressed fears and wild growth, Thapp’s work creates a fragmented narrative, acting like pages in a diary and documenting the contemporary female experience.
My Head Is A Jungle follows the success of Thapp’s graphic novel, Feelings; previous books such as The Little Book of Feminist Saints; and her hugely popular illustrations depicting proud women and popular culture for the likes of Stylist, Time Magazine, Google, Moleskine, Tate x LDN WMN and more. She will for the first time lift her painterly, iconographic style from the page to create an immersive display.
On the announcement of being appointed NOW Gallery’s Young Artist collaborator Manjit Thapp, said: “I’m excited to have the opportunity to bring my 2D illustrated world to life and expand on many of the recurring themes in my work in a brand-new way. I hope to highlight how art can be used to channel our emotions by creating illustrations that draw upon everyday feelings.”
Kaia Charles, Cultural Curator at NOW Gallery, commented: “We are delighted to announce Manjit as this year’s Young Artist Commission and welcome her to NOW Gallery to showcase her iconic visual works. Known for blending the use of her pencil and digital creativity, her illustrations are inspired from a combination of her personal experiences, influential culture to provide empowering messages for young women today. Her bold and playful imagery is well received on social media and we look forward to welcoming visitors to discover. Thapps’s drawings are gentle, yet confident and empowering. The exhibition will question how creative processes can be used to focus and distil thoughts.”
The exterior of the gallery will also be animated by a similar jungle-esque landscape, inviting those who visit the wider Peninsula to explore Thapp’s world. The exhibition launch falls within Greenwich Peninsula’s wider summer programming, which provides residents and the wider community with a series of cultural and engaging experiences that tap into the area’s already established arts and cultural offering.
My Head Is A Jungle is the third commission for the NOW Gallery Young Artist programme, which is designed to work with artists who have an unusual approach and standout visual aesthetic, providing them with a new platform to showcase their work and create a unique vision for the gallery space. As part of the on-going regeneration of Greenwich Peninsula, this programme underpins the area’s commitment to fostering creativity to build a sense of community, offering a blank canvas that allows those who visit and settle a chance to image, create and build; an opportunity to create a new London.
Watch Manjit Thapp in conversation with NOW Gallery curator Kaia Charles here.