Ronan Mckenzie launches Home, a vital new creative space, with an identity by Studio Nari
Home will encompass an art gallery, events programme, library and communal work space with the aim of supporting the work of BIPOC and female artists, in particular.
- Ruby Boddington
- 26 November 2020
Since 2018, London-based photographer Ronan Mckenzie has harboured the ambition to open a creative space which serves a community it also welcomes. The idea, she tells It’s Nice That, was to “respond directly to the personal and communal need for a more honest and representative space, that cares deeply for the artists it presents and the community of people that it welcomes into its doors.” It’s an idea which sprung out of her 2018 exhibition I’m Home, featuring Ronan’s work alongside that of Rhea Dillon, Liz Johnson Artur and Joy Gregory. And, when a close friend questioned her on what she was waiting for, “I didn't have an answer,” Ronan says; so Home, a multifunctional creative space, launching today with its inaugural exhibition, was born.
Home will provide a curated series of exhibitions and programmed events with accessibility and community at the heart of everything. “Art spaces remain hierarchal and out of reach for most – especially BIPOC audiences, making entering artistic spheres extremely difficult and maintaining a place in them even harder,” Ronan explains, adding that Home’s curation, therefore, has “a keen focus on supporting the work of BIPOC artists, and furthermore female artists, however, this is not completely exclusive.”
The events programme, which is kicking off in the new year, will feature life drawing, book clubs, supper clubs, artist talks, workshops, music events and much more. Within the space, there is also an ever-growing library of books, with a permanent curation by Bibisbooks, “a book club dedicated to advocating and amplifying POC voices within literature.” What’s more, Home will function as a community workspace, with Ronan explaining that “communal working is something that is hugely important for many people, and this year has highlighted just how isolating work from home situations can be, so we have a dining table in our lounge space which we invite people to come and work with us at.”
Officially opening today at 6pm is Wata, Further Explorations, Home’s first exhibition which unpacks a collaboration between Ronan and Joy Yamusangie that the pair released earlier this year. A short film of the same name, the work amalgamates notions of ancestry, cross-cultural connections, music and migration through the story of Mami Wata, a water deity traced back to West Africa, Central Africa and the Caribbean. In Wata, Further Explorations, the pair expand upon this story and concepts through Joy’s large-scale paintings and Ronan’s portraits, where movement, musicality and dance are the driving forces.
Tying together its physical space, online launch, events programme and future exhibitions is an identity by Studio Nari which only furthers Home’s principles. “I actually met Caterina [Bianchini] when I did a talk for Nicer Tuesdays back in 2018, and she got in touch when I first posted on Instagram that I would be opening a space, and offered her support,” Ronan explains. “I, absolutely taken aback and in awe of her work accepted her kind offer and I have been blown away at every stage of the design process.” On what urged the studio to get involved in the project, Caterina adds that Nari is “always looking to work with individuals or organisations that are focusing on creating positive change,” and Home was something it immediately wanted to be involved in.
The brief asked Nari to “create something that represented the space and the people,” and “all of our research led to the idea of Home being a feeling,” Caterina explains. Somehow, through the visual identity, Nari needed to express that the space “just felt right, gave you warmth, strength, escapism and a sense of belonging.” From this, the studio developed the idea that home isn’t just a place but it’s who you are. “A sense of identity is core to every individual, and creates a piece of home in yourself,” Caterina continues. It’s for this reason that subtle yet eloquent details have been added to the logotype. For example, it features “accentuated serif feet, aimed to create a sense of being rooted – aligning with that sense of belonging” and the “letters ‘M’ and ‘E’ are connected as a subliminal celebration of identity, and relating back to our overarching concept of finding the meaning of ‘home’ within yourself.”
Nari has, alongside this logotype, developed a graphic language which considers what “a feeling” is, concluding that it is something which fills a space. “The application of the brand is always taking up different amounts of space across brand assets but always fully filling whichever space it is in,” Caterina then explains. Its colours – which are calming and muted yet have the ability to be intensified – derive from photographic references Ronan shared, all linking to “nature, home and personal connection.” Ultimately, it’s an identity which has been to designed to be flexible across multiple platforms and touch-points, but also so that it can grow as Home’s ambitions do too.
On what those ambitions are, Ronan says she’s already surprised herself with what Home has become since its inception in May of this year. Already in the works is a series of pop-up, smaller shows alongside the main exhibition and a Home Reinterpreted series which will engage a wide range of artists. “My expectations for Home have just continued to fly, and Home is already (even pre-launching) so much more than what I could have initially hoped for,” Ronan concludes. “Our exhibition programme for 2021/22 is a testament to just how needed Home is, and I just can't wait to share that with everyone.”
In what has been a difficult year, especially for the art world, what Ronan has achieved is somewhat staggering; it gives us hope that creativity will continue to evolve and do what it does best – amplifying the voices of those who should be heard. As we (hopefully) move out of isolation and into the new year, spaces where communities can be fostered with only increase in importance. Home is a vital move in response to this, and to a system which does not work hard enough to nurture talent. We suggest you keep an eye out for the artists who will be gracing the walls of Home over the coming years.
Home by Ronan Mckenzie (Copyright © Home, 2020)
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.