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Emii Alrai : Future Collect Commission 2 The Hepworth Wakefield

Exhibition A Core of Scar Emii Alrai

07 Apr-04 Sep 2022
  • Date

    Thursday 7 April – Sunday 4 September 2022

  • Venue

    The Hepworth Wakefield, Gallery Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 5AW

  • Admission

    Entry to The Hepworth Wakefield is £12 / £10 / FREE for Members, Wakefield District residents and under 18s.

  • Visitor information


  • Artists

    Emii Alrai

    Amber Li

A Core of Scar is an exhibition of Alrai’s new work, created for acquisition into The Hepworth Wakefield’s permanent public collection. In her large-scale sculptural practice, Alrai weaves together ancient mythologies from the Middle East and oral histories from her own Iraqi heritage, creating objects which imitate archaeological artefacts. Her work draws attention to the contrast between the polished aesthetics of museums and the states of ruin which befall archaeological objects and the landscapes they are excavated from.

For this commission, Alrai has created a series of hand-blown glass vessels that evoke ancient funerary urns. The vessels are marked by scars and seams, which emerge during processes of casting and joining. In archaeological artefacts, such scars can hint at the violence of the object’s separation from its homeland – a separation that parallels experiences of migration and diaspora. Investigating physical markers of the past, Alrai finds affinities for these scars in bodily wounds and across geological landscapes. A Core of Scar explores objects, bodies, and landscapes as sites of memory. Accompanying the exhibition is a public programme consisting of two study days, one at Stuart Hall Library and the other, an excursion to Gordale Scar (Yorkshire Dales National Park).

Download the full press release here: Future Collect press release, April 2022


Artist bio:  Emii Alrai (b.1993, Blackpool) is an artist based in Leeds. Her practice is informed by inherited nostalgia, geographical identity, and post-colonial museum practices of collecting and displaying objects. Focusing on ancient mythologies from the Middle East alongside personal oral histories of Iraq, she weaves together narratives by forging artefacts and visualising residues of cultural collision. Alrai creates monumentally-scaled installations which play on museological displays and dioramas. She draws attention to the clash between the polished aesthetics of imperial museums and the states of ruin which befall archaeological artefacts and their landscapes of excavation. Alrai’s art often contains elements which appear broken or unfinished. In this, they point towards moments of rupture and of diasporic separation from homeland. Their incompleteness asks the viewer to imagine archaeological sites as spaces of active memory. 

Future Collect is generously supported by Art Fund, Arts Council England and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. 

Image credits: The making of Emii Alrai’s A Core of Scar exhibition 2022. Photography by Angus Makay, in the North Lands Creative Studio