2022 APP Commissions Showcase

Stronger Together


20 September 2022


Blenheim Walk



Showcase: Tuesday 20 September 2022

Location: Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University, Blenheim Walk, Leeds LS2 9AQ

5:00-5:30pm 'Dammam' performance by Omid Asadi.
5:30-6:30pm Panel Discussion with artists Omid Asadi, Herfa Thompson and María Cepeda. In conversation with Dr Marianna Tsionki, University Curator, and Dr Laura da Costa, Access and Participation Development Manager, the artists will discuss their commissioned work in more detail.

Free entry. Booking not required.


The showcase will commence in the Blenheim Walk Gallery with the performance titled 'Dammam', by Omid Asadi. Dammam is a traditional form of Iranian drumming, played to bring people together. The performance centres around a Persian carpet, which along with the performers is transformed little by little into a mess. The work is informed by historical connections between the Iranian oil industry, the British in Iran, the now-infamous covert military Operation Ajax, and the ensuing immigration of millions of Iranians. These issues are fundamentally linked with the current figure of 64 million forced migrants worldwide fleeing war, hunger, persecution and climate change, often due to the impact of fossil fuels.

Panel Discussion

Following the performance, the event will continue in the Blenheim Walk Auditorium with a panel discussion. The discussion will culminate at 6:30pm, with the chance for attendees to further explore the installations of Herfa Thompson and María Cepeda.

Herfa Thompson’s work, Songs My Mother Never Got to Sing to Me, explores stories of the black uterus through fabric and clay. The work, inspired by personal events, looks at the prevalence of uterine fibroids in Black women and the tendency to have their symptoms ignored for so long that only severe options such as hysterectomies are available. The work looks for a place of healing and wonders how we can be gentle with this pain and uses the clay and fabric to explore the past, present and a future healed mythology of generational trauma.

María Cepeda, an alumnus of the university’s BA (Hons) Fine Art course, will be presenting ceramic sculptures that double up as wind instruments. The sculptures are informed by the study of sound vessels of pre-Columbian origin and their links to other whistles, drums and vessels from indigenous cultures around the world. Retaking the craft of making such vessels and then incorporating a modern electric air pumping system is a process that brings to the fore and values indigenous knowledge and heritage in places like Colombia that imported European systems attempted to erase and replace. The work invites us to ask how we can retake our legacies, keep them alive today, and make use of the globalised world to re-imagine a future where different cultures and knowledge can coexist without having one deny the other.

The 2022 APP Commissions Programme aims to increase the presence of practitioners of minoritised ethnicities interacting with the University and to challenge and develop pedagogy by generating inclusive debate. The Programme is part of the University’s 2020-21 to 2024-25 Access and Participation Plan, an ambitious five-year plan to develop access to, success during, and progression following university for students from underrepresented groups, including students of Black, Asian, and other minoritised ethnicities.

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