11 artists respond to the question: ‘NO BUT WHERE ARE YOU REALLY FROM?’

  •        Artichoke announces 11 new artworks for The Gallery’s third UK-wide, outdoor, public art exhibition.
  •        The Gallery is a new kind of cultural institution, challenging traditional models of viewing art by bringing contemporary art to everyone’s doorstep.
  •        11 artists explore identity, origin, heritage, belonging and what it means to be ‘from somewhere’.
  •        Exhibition 4 September- 2 October 2023, across outdoor digital screens and billboards. 

We live in a globalised world of international travel and mass migration. Over the centuries, peoples, animals, plants and pathogens have continuously crisscrossed the Earth’s oceans and continents. So, what part does place still play in identity? 

From 4 September 2023, 11 powerful new artworks will be exhibited on thousands of outdoor digital screens and billboards across the four nations of the UK. They are all part of The Gallery, a major new public art initiative conceived by Artichoke, in collaboration with public artist Martin Firrell, that aims to create a new kind of cultural institution without walls and challenge traditional models of viewing art.  

Curated by Bakul Patki, Season 3 of The Gallery invited artists to respond to the theme, No But Where Are You Really From? The exhibition comprises of 11 artworks - seven selected from a global open call that received almost 900 entries, and four directly commissioned. Together the exciting array of exhibiting artists share complex, confronting and creative interpretations of identity, origin, heritage, belonging, and what it means to be ‘from somewhere’.  

Larry Achiampong's PAN AFRICAN FLAG FOR THE RELIC TRAVELLERS’ ALLIANCE (DUALITIES) is a vital part of the artist's ongoing Relic Traveller project, which examines postcolonial perspectives and the connection between those born in Africa and those of the diaspora. David Blackmore's European Pa55port is a visual exploration of the layers within his own cultural identity, born from his denied request to the EU for a non-nation-specific European Passport.

In Pattern Recognition, Reena Kallat appropriates the Snellen Eye Chart format to illustrate the evolution of travel liberties and draw attention to the ever-shifting, perpetually unequal geopolitics of access and mobility. op.x’sFragile playfully recreates the St George's Cross whilst offering a thought-provoking commentary on the delicate political and societal balance that underlies the symbol of national pride. Osman Yousefzada's More Immigrants Please reshapes migration discourse, introducing a positive vocabulary and subverting the visual language of barricade tape usually associated with exclusion, to send a bold message of welcome. Lori Gordon’s I Want To Turn My Identity Off invites the viewer to make their own interpretation of this distinct, but ambiguous, statement.   

In So...Where Are You Really From?, Fiona McBennett uses Artificial Intelligence to explore the feelings of rootlessness and cultural dysphoria she has experienced as a bi-racial woman, while in JUST US!, Amit Sihagcelebrates the resilience of the often-faceless Indian agrarian community. Azraa Motala’s Brit-ish is an intimate visual representation of the artist’s complex relationship with her South-Asian and British identity; Yasmin Nicholas’ ‘Does This Answer Your Question? is a powerful, introspective response to the interrogation of her heritage, and Ian Wainaina ponders the multifaceted nature of identity and the human need for a sense of place, with an image from his ongoing series Home Is Far Away.

Helen Marriage, CEO and Creative Director of Artichoke, says: 
“We’re proud to present the third in The Gallery’s ongoing series of outdoor public art exhibitions. Little did we realise that the theme agreed for this season would again be so close to the current national conversation. And perhaps unsurprisingly, the Open Call drew the largest international cohort we’ve had so far with artists responding from all over the globe. We believe that the 11 artists in this exhibition tell a powerfully nuanced story about identity and belonging that will resonate with everyone who sees the work. Once again, many thanks to the Out of Home advertising industry, for their support for this gallery without walls that offers great art to people as they go about their daily lives”.

Martin FirrellCreative Director of The Gallery says:

“‘No but where are you really from?' raises difficult questions about belonging, prejudice, equality and identity. Many people take for granted the experience of unquestioned belonging. But what about minority groups of all kinds, or people who simply see the world differently, act or behave differently? My hope for The Gallery Season 3 is that it will lay bare the qualitative experience of being made to feel 'on the other side' of things, of society, of life. And I hope that all of us will be made richer and kinder by that insight.”

Bakul Patki, Curator, The Gallery Season 3 says:         

“‘No but where are you really from?’ Today, as people and ideas increasingly move and migrate across the globe, and heritages are increasingly hybrid, one might presume a question like this would be redundant. However, a quick glance at the headlines reminds us that debates around place, belonging and identity are far from resolved. 

For Season 3 of The Gallery, we have invited 11 artists from four continents to share their unique perspectives. Whether by subverting imagery traditionally used to keep people out, or using AI to explore people’s presumptions of identity, each artist speaks profoundly to this question. In bringing these works together, and challenging the viewer to consider and reconsider the experiences of others, I hope we’re able to stimulate conversation, shift perspectives and, ultimately, inspire empathy.” 

The Gallery’s Season 3 selected artworks will become part of its constantly expanding permanent collection, accessible to all through The Gallery’s website and digital archive. 

The Gallery was conceived by leading UK arts producers Artichoke with public artist and Creative Director Martin Firrell, and is presented in partnership with the Out-of-Home advertising industryincluding major partners Clear Channel, JCDecaux and Alight Media. Launched in 2022, this new outdoor art project continues to make art accessible to all with a bold and unafraid programme that asks some of the most challenging questions of our time. 

Each biannual exhibition season is produced by Artichoke and sets out to nurture and develop artists at all levels, giving them a platform and guidance on producing art in the public realm. Season 3 includes a five-day Summer School, running 21-25 August, as part of our ongoing Learning and Participation programme. Over the week, young people will explore new skills, make artworks and take part in curating a neighbourhood mural inspired by the theme No But Where Are You Really From?.

The Gallery’s inaugural exhibition invited artists from across the world to create works in response to the theme Straight White Male, which provoked a mix of ire, admiration, and conversation. The second season, The State We’re In, asked if art can help decode what’s happening in our 21st century riddled with crisis? Together the collection represented a variety 

of responses to the theme, from the personal to the political and from the domestic to 
the global.

To mark the opening of Season 3, Artichoke will present a special exhibition of The Gallery at Dray Walk, Truman Brewery, E1 6QL. A retrospective of Seasons 1 and 2 will be exhibited from 2-5 September with all 3 seasons on exhibition from 6-9 September.


Notes to editors

Selection Panel

Seven artists were selected from almost 900 applications by the selection panel below. Four were direct commissions by curator Bakul Patki. 

  •        Bolanle Tajudeen – Founder, Black Blossoms
  •        Joseph Zeal Henry – Co-Curator 2023 British Pavilion
  •        Bakul Patki – Curator, The Gallery
  •        Martin Firrell – Creative Director, The Gallery
  •        Helen Marriage – CEO and Artistic Director, Artichoke

About Artichoke

Leading UK arts producer, Artichoke, works with artists to create extraordinary and ambitious public art in cities, the countryside and on coastlines around the UK. Artichoke believes in the transformative power of art to undermine the mundane and disrupt the everyday to create a new kind of world that we’d all like to live in.

Over the last 16 years, Artichoke has produced more than 25 ground-breaking productions including the inaugural Artichoke project, Royal de Luxe’s The Sultan’s Elephant (2006); La Machine’s 50-foot high mechanical spider for Liverpool’s Capital of Culture celebrations (2008); Antony Gormley’s One & Other commission for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square (2009); Lumiere, the UK’s light art biennial produced in Durham, Derry-Londonderry and London since 2009 and returning to Durham this November 2023; Deborah Warner’s Peace Camp commission for the London 2012 Festival with Fiona Shaw and London’s Burning, a festival commissioned by the City of London Corporation to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London (2016). Recent projects include Sanctuary (2022), the 65ft Covid memorial, designed by American artist David Best and built by 500 community members, set alight in a moment of catharsis for the nation and The Gallery (2022-), a new public art initiative taking over billboards and digital screens with art, and HERD (2023) a sonic art spectacular, conceived and directed by composer Orlando Gough. Artichoke.uk.com | @artichoketrust 


Helen Marriage – Artichoke CEO and Artistic Director
Helen’s previous work includes seven years as Director of the Salisbury Festival, described by The Times as ‘miracle of modern British culture’. She created the first Arts & Events programme for Olympia & York, the developers of Canary Wharf in London, and was an Associate Director of the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT).  She began her working life at Artsadmin where she managed a variety of independent artists in the 
early 1980s.

In 2012, she was awarded a Loeb Fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Design, a prestigious fellowship awarded to individuals working in the area of urban design and planning. Her appointment was an acknowledgement of the impact Artichoke has made on the way mass public art events are negotiated and staged.  She was awarded an MBE for services to the arts in the New Year’s Honours list in 2016.

Martin Firrell – Creative Director of The Gallery 

Martin Firrell is a British-French public artist whose works challenge unjust power systems of all kinds, including patriarchal power, the oppression of women and non-heterosexuals, and the heteronormative status quo. He uses language to engage directly with the public, provoking dialogue about more equitable social organisation. His aim is 'to make the world more humane'. His work has been summarised as 'art as debate'. http://www.martinfirrell.com

Bakul Patki, Curator, The Gallery, Season 3

Bakul Patki is a freelance curator, creative producer and cultural consultant specialising in fine art, photography, design and architecture. She works independently and for organisations to devise, develop and deliver projects with individual artists, studios, institutions, festivals, and charities, as well as brands who have an interest in working with and supporting creativity. She is passionate about bringing art into the public realm - extending its reach and amplifying its impact by removing physical, political and perceived barriers. Over her career she has curated and produced exhibitions, installations, performances and panels, at a number of prestigious locations; including Royal Hampton Court Palace; Somerset House; Piccadilly Circus; the Photo Museum of Ireland in Dublin; The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest; and Documenta 15 in Kassel (collateral). Recent projects for brands include the curation and production of a series of talks, events and exhibitions for Artnet at Art Basel Miami Beach (2022), Frieze London (2022) and Frieze LA (2023). 

The Gallery is Supported by

The Gallery is in partnership with the Out-of-Home industry, including major partners Clear Channel, JCDecaux and Alight Media. Season 3 of The Gallery is supported by Mass Media, KBH Group, Redbus Media, 75media, Outsmart and Eye Airports.

The Summer School 2023 was made possible thanks to money raised during The Big Give Christmas Challenge 2022. Donations were matched with support from Artichoke’s Champion Funder The Childhood Trust. Seasons 1-2 of The Gallery, exhibited as part of the retrospective from 2-4 September, were supported by Clear Channel, JCDecaux, Alight Media, Mass Media, KBH Group, Redbus Media, 75media, Outsmart, Wildstone, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Colwinston Charitable Trust, Esmé Mitchell Trust, Idlewild Trust, The Ashley Family Foundation and The Austin & Hope Pilkington Trust. Season 2 of The Gallery was supported by media partner, The Guardian.