Hew Locke installation opening at the Watershed at ICA Boston

This summer, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) opens the next season of the Watershed with the U.S. debut of The Procession (2022), an ambitious work by sculptor and visual artist Hew Locke OBE RA. On view May 23—September 2, 2024, Hew Locke: The Procession was originally commissioned by Tate Britain, UK, for its 2022 Duveen Commission.

The ICA Watershed presentation is organized by Ruth Erickson, Barbara Lee Chief Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, and Anni A. Pullagura, Consulting Assistant Curator, in collaboration with Tate.

A procession is part of life; we gather and move together to celebrate, worship, protest, mourn, escape, or call for change. These expressions are all at the heart of The Procession, which features a gathering of over 100 life-size figures of all ages and abilities. Intricately handmade and adorned in printed fabric, patchwork, and appliqué, these spectacular figures embody visual references to colonialism, globalization, conflict, ecology, and cultural exchange. 

“They’re moving into another life,” Hew Locke said. “They may be coming from difficult times, they may be heading towards difficult times, but there’s an energy there, which is about hope.”

Staged in the industrial setting of the Watershed at the edge of Boston Harbor, The Procession invites visitors to join this forward-moving mass and encounter the diverse histories and experiences these sculptures embody. 

“With its location in East Boston overlooking the Atlantic—a point of entry, and home for generations of newcomers to this country—the ICA Watershed is a uniquely apt location for audiences to engage with The Procession,” Jill Medvedow, the ICA’s Ellen Matilda Poss Director, said. “Renowned artist Hew Locke has created a procession of figures, drawing on Caribbean and other carnival traditions. We are excited to invite our visitors to walk alongside the procession and experience the collective reasons for gathering in solidarity, migrating towards a hopeful future.”

In The Procession, visitors will see carnival characters such as Mother Sally, Pitchy-Patchy, and Midnight Robber, dancers, refugees, horse riders, soldiers, sailors, bearers, pregnant women, drummers, and flag bearers in Locke’s cast of characters. Some carry metaphorical baggage in the form of symbolic objects, banners, or uniforms from the past and present. Others wear dresses printed with reproductions of historical paintings; Chinese, Indian, and African financial documents; and images of Locke’s own past work. Several sculptures reference contemporary concerns, such as evidence of rising sea levels, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the invasion of Ukraine.

Bearing the collective weight of such histories in a timeless arrangement, the figures, in the artist’s words, “reflect on the cycles of history, and the ebb and flow of cultures, people, finance, and power.” 

“In The Procession, Locke gathers and assembles the images, materials, and concerns that have occupied his practice for decades, presenting an engaging and colorful crowd of travelers that carry both historical and cultural baggage on their journey,” curators Ruth Erickson, Barbara Lee Chief Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, and Anni A. Pullagura, Consulting Assistant Curator, said. “Using cardboard, jewelry, medals, and repurposed emblems of imperial power, Locke’s work engages with identity, collective histories, and contemporary experiences of the long shadow of colonialism.”

Artist Biography

Hew Locke OBE RA (born 1959 in Edinburgh, United Kingdom; lives and works in London) explores how different cultures fashion their identities through visual symbols of authority, and how these representations alter over the passage of time. These explorations have led him to a wide range of subject matters, imagery, and media, assembling sources across time and space in his deeply layered artworks.

His unique merging of influences from his native Guyana and London, where Locke now lives and works, leads to richly textured, witty, innovative and vibrant pieces that stand on a crossroad of histories, cultures and media.

In 2022 Locke was awarded both Tate Britain’s Duveen Hall commission realized in The Procession, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art Facade Commission realized in the work Gilt. His work is in the public collections of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, Tate Gallery, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, and British Museum.

In 2022, he was elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) (where he completed an MA in sculpture in 1994) and was awarded an Order of the British Empire for Services to Art (OBE) in the 2023 King’s Birthday Honors list.

About the Watershed

In 2018, the ICA opened its new ICA Watershed to the public, expanding artistic and educational programming on both sides of Boston Harbor—the Seaport and East Boston. Located in the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina, the ICA Watershed transformed a 15,000-square-foot, formerly condemned space into a cultural asset to experience large-scale, immersive exhibitions every summer. 

The cross-harbor connection to the Watershed was designed to deepen the vibrant intersection of contemporary art and civic life in Boston and is central to the ICA’s vision of art, civic life, and urban vitality.

About the ICA

Since its founding in 1936, the ICA has shared the pleasures of reflection, inspiration, imagination, and provocation that contemporary art offers with its audiences. A museum at the intersection of contemporary art and civic life, the ICA has advanced a bold vision for amplifying the artist’s voice and expanding the museum’s role as educator, incubator, and convener.

Its exhibitions, performances, and educational programs provide access to the breadth and diversity of contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. T

he ICA is located at 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA, 02210. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our website at icaboston.org. Follow the ICA on FacebookInstagram and TikTok.

About Tate

Tate is a family of galleries in the UK that includes Tate Britain and Tate Modern in London, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives. Spanning 500 years, Tate’s collection holds the national collection of British art, and international modern and contemporary art.

Tate is recognized internationally as a leading art institution and has a major international touring program which sees these artworks travel to galleries across Britain and around the globe. Tate has long been engaged with American art, artists and institutions which is frequently supported through The Tate Americas Foundation, an independent Foundation that supports the work of Tate in the United Kingdom.

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