The Coningsby Gallery

Debut Art

Outstanding contemporary illustration
and graphic and fine art.

At Daybreak / The Ignition Project

3 April – 15 April 2024 Opening 3 April 6-8pm

When sunlight struggles to pierce the darkest hour of the night, and dreams are at their most vivid, the moment at daybreak marks an ambiguous state of transition that defies binary distinctions. This threshold moment, imbued with ambivalent, undefinable, and heterotopic qualities, is captured by its Japanese term ‘夜明け’ (yoake). Literally meaning ‘the night becoming bright,’ the two kanji characters ‘夜明’ symbolises a journey from the unknown to the known, where creativity and a discovery of truth emerge through the very act of crossing, transitioning, and navigating ambiguity. The Ignition Project’s debut exhibition, At Daybreak, brings together the works of Himani Gupta, Ling Pui Sze, Natasha Malik, Qian Qian, and Amy Steel to explore how the poetics of liminality and ambivalence hold the potential to ignite their creative praxis of everyday worldmaking.

Drawing from her field experience in urban ecologies and anthropogenic landscapes, Himani Gupta maps out the complex interplay of people, flora, and terrain through creative topography and material assemblage. In Dreams We Rest stems from the artist’s months-long dream journaling and walking practice, using techniques like mark-making and layering with oil and iridescent pigments to depict the fantastical landscapes of her travels and everyday life. Fusing scraps of khadi paper and upcycled cloth with melts of sanguine, graphite, coffee, and burnt amber powders, Gupta’s tapestry-painting Melting Lands mirrors the effects of human movement and habitation on the earth’s shifting fault lines. Featured in the Wellcome Trust-funded anthology The Work of Art in the Age of Planetary Destruction (2023), the piece reflects human-induced land erosion, diminishing forests, and the expansion of agricultural and urban structures. It functions as a living canvas and a dynamic object, intended to be displayed in different spaces and environments.

Ling Pui Sze tears and reassembles the fibres of washi paper, which bear the imprint of inkjet-printed microscopic images of her disease-affected cells. In doing so, she remaps her biological units until balance is attained, a process she refers to as ‘tuning.’ In recent years, Ling has had to frequently visit the hospital due to various injuries, with each treatment addressing a different part of her body. The process of healing and regeneration evokes for her the delicate act of tuning her zheng and kalimba, where each adjustment brings her closer to harmony and balance. Flowing as if beyond control, anchored only by the sharp outlines of X-ray images, the way ink merges into the deep fibres of paper resonate with the inherent unpredictability of life itself. Tuning emerges as a persistent and continuous series of making among her other works, serving as a reminder to the artist of the paramount importance of nurturing her health.

Much like Ling, Qian Qian views the realm of science through a lens of exquisite sensitivity, embracing its complexities and animacy beyond mere binaries. Captivated by Italo Calvino’s use of comedy and fiction to fantastically narrate astronomical hypotheses in ‘At Daybreak’ from The Complete Cosmicomics, Qian humorously reimagines the process of spores growing into semi-mature forms as biological mutants within a bonded life structure. In defiance of science’s disenchantment of the world, her technomystical work embraces an array of ancient spiritual beliefs and employs speculative fiction to visualise both quantum entanglement and the primordial chaos preceding the establishment of cosmic order. In the Cosmoatomic Trinity, the great Hindu god Shiva assumes the form of Natarāja, the Lord of Dance. Shrouded in vibrant swirls of four colours, Natarāja performs his mighty cosmic dance, perpetually weaving through cycles of destruction and rebirth.

Rooted in Indo-Persian miniature painting tradition, Natasha Malik’s practice is also enriched by ancient mythologies and literatures. Every Wound is an Eye, painted on layered wasli paper, draws influence from the Sumerian myth of Inanna-Ishtar, the Goddess of Heaven, who pursued the divine powers of the netherworld. In this quest, she descended into the underworld realm of her sister, Ereshkigal, where she ultimately succeeded. This tale symbolises the reawakening of the inner feminine and instinct residing in the unconscious. Malik’s residency in Iceland has significantly influenced the landscapes in her artwork, capturing the majesty of mountains and fjords. A Flowering Utterance, inspired by the mythical Waq-waq Tree as depicted in Persian and Arabic manuscripts, explores a symbiotic relationship between a female figure and a tree emerging from her femur bone, representing the journey of discovering one’s multifaceted selves amid discomfort and confrontation. In the painting’s forefront, the figure’s utterance materialises as a Night Cactus, a rarely blooming flower. This ephemeral expression, precious and transient, ultimately fades into whiteness.

Echoing the spirited women depicted in Malik’s paintings, who assume active roles, Amy Steel’s work vividly celebrate female agency and autonomy. Using a sensuous palette of pink, purple, and green, Steel’s painting creates an inviting, sensual, and ethereal environment, where the female form and the flamingo coalesce into a luminous world. Her work illuminates the playful engagement and active companionship between women and firebirds, the latter acquiring a vivid pink hue from their shrimp diet. Steel’s depictions of women and flamingos mark a radical departure from the traditional swan motif in art history. Moving away from the historically passive representation of women, epitomised by Leda’s submissive encounter with the swan, Steel champions a dynamic and active female presence.


Our standard opening hours are below but some exhibitions may have different opening hours. If they do, the opening hours will be detailed on the main page of each exhibition.

9am - 6pm Monday - Friday

Weekends by appointment only UNLESS any particular exhibition details on our site otherwise.

The specific weekend opening hours will be detailed on the main page of each exhibition.

Closed Sundays and Public Holidays, unless otherwise stated on the main page of each exhibition.

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Exhibition Calendar

April 2024

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