Kicking off 2023 at Monocle Man Galleries, curated by Lynx Luga and Kit Boyd is an exhibition of art by Hannah Starlight entitled Dream Again – a fitting title to go with the start of a new year. It is an exhibition taking place in one of the newer galleries spaces Kit and Lynx are providing for artists within the Monocle Man facilities, being hosted within the Cabaret sky gallery.
This is an interesting gallery space, offered as something of a speakeasy-like cabaret club, tucked away out-of-sight of any passing authorities, reached by walking down a back alley and then climbing down into what appears to be a storm drain, but which is in fact the entrance to a “basement” club with wood panelled walls and deco-like electric lights.
Dream Again is a collection of 28 images, either mounted on the walls of the club or on easels located around the the columns and edges of the dance floor. Predominantly avatar-centric these are images rich in content and message – commentaries, if you will on life, love and expressing oneself, at least one of which I seem to recall from a prior exhibition (His Song), which does not in any way detract from the overall thrust of this exhibition.
Offered in a variety of formats, small and large, 4:3 through to fully panoramic, these are pieces which are all richly expressive and predominantly celebratory in nature. Given the time of year, some of the pieces might be seen as holding to the Christmas theme and ideals of faith: Here’s My Heart, Lord, The Prayer, He Carries Me, and – perhaps most notably – A Baby Changes Everything. However, even while they may do so, they also speak to more secular interpretations; take A Baby Changes Everything: is it not true that a baby, whether of natural or divine conception, a miracle that truly changes everything for its parents?
Meanwhile, Beautiful Warrior speaks to the physical beauty of the subject, as we are drawn to look at her face. However, her pose, the placement of her arms in particular, speaks powerfully and eloquently to her inner strength in the face of what can be a terrifying and seemingly implacable foe – check the description of the piece for more on this.
Elsewhere within the collection, Hannah offers more direct celebrations on love, marriage and the joy of being able to freely express oneself and enjoy life. All are worthy of appreciation, although I confess that Light for Your Path drew me to it, not only because of its panoramic nature; whilst New Light, tucked away behind one of the columns, carries with it a simple, direct message of the power of new life, layered with the taboo nature of pregnancy as an expression of beauty (one might even say it offers a link to the other pieces with a divine lean to them: might the light of the Sun breaking through the clouds be taken as a spiritual reference to the light of God?
I’ll leave that for you to decide if this might be the case. In the meantime, I will say that Dream Again is a richly engaging exhibition, and it officially opens at 12:00 noon SLT on Sunday, January 1st, 2023 with a performance by Rogue.
Monocle Man Caberet Gallery (Flying Fortress, rated Adult)