The Norman Rea Gallery Presents: The Captive Body

‘The Captive Body’ will run from the 27th of February until the 10th of March.


The Norman Rea Gallery plays host to an exhibition exploring representations of the repressed and controlled female body. The exhibition hopes to stimulate conversations surrounding the restrictions placed upon female identity, sexuality and physicality. Curator Kalina Kossowska brings together prints by Joe Cruz and Oliver Sewell, graphics and posters by Rafal Olbinski and a video installation by Anja Olofgörs.

Upon entering the gallery Anja Olofgörs’s video installation is immediately impactful with her 2017 work ‘Repetition of Acts’ playing on loop. The installation comprises of two black and white videos presented side by side. One shows a woman performing gymnastics on beam in a repeated sequence and the other a woman pointing and relaxing her toes.

This work sets up the exhibition well conveying key concepts, such as the controlling and restraining of the female body. Such concepts are explored by the other featured artists in a diversity of medias.

Moving past the installation Oliver Sewell’s works ‘Limbo No. 2’ and ‘Limbo No. 3’ hang. Sewell displays a keen interest in human interaction with disused objects as well an affection for the ability of photography to record and immortalise images. Sewell sees photographs as powerful due to their ability to ‘record images that serve as a physical memory’. The interaction of hands and feet with an opaque barrier in these works of photography are intriguing. The eerie compositions convey feelings of entrapment behind a barrier, perhaps a visual portrayal of the concept of the ‘glass ceiling’ that represses women.


Turning to the wall, Joe Cruz’s images of women with colourful masks can be seen. Cruz states that his work ‘employs hands on methods and low-tech materials’ and ‘mostly revolves around appropriation, mark making and colour’ with themes such as unity, acceptance and respect running though his creations. These masked women present questions surrounding the restrictions placed upon the physicality of a woman and the need to remain presentable to society.

The rest of the gallery space is given over to award winning artist Rafal Olbinski and his thought provoking graphics and posters. His complex images are often likened to Dali and Magritte due to the in psychological readings they invite. Olbinski believes that every artist falls in love with his work, ‘especially when you paint women’ and has sought to explore the aura of women, often taking inspiration from Goya and Botticelli. The exhibition boasts eight of his original graphics and four original posters made for The New York City Opera.

Find the Norman Rea Gallery above The Courtyard in Derwent College, open Monday to Friday from 9am – 6pm.