Bobby Baker’s Great & Tiny War, Newcastle – from 7 September 2018

Bobby Baker's latest work focuses on her own family history and the domestic experiences of women during the First World War, creating an immersive multi-media art installation in a terraced Newcastle house.

7 September to 9 November 2018

"Commissioned by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, Bobby Baker’s Great & Tiny War is inspired by real stories, passed down through her family. It shines a light on the role of women during wartime and the impact of conflicts, historical and contemporary, on the mental health of whole families through the generations.  

She may be best known for her groundbreaking exhibition Diary Drawings: Mental Illness and Me 1997- 2008 at the Wellcome Collection in 2009, but in a career spanning four decades artist Bobby Baker has danced with meringue ladies, made a life-sized version of her family out of cake and driven around the streets of London strapped to the back of a truck telling people to ‘Pull Yourselves Together’.

Visitors don headphones and listen to the artist as she guides them through the house. Moving from room to room they encounter different experiences that juxtapose the everyday with the extraordinary and a series of unexpected and surprising interventions. Visitors will see a spectral heroine and a table set for dinner, the story of a family through the generations, a gallery of hand painted treasures and 4,701 reinvented dinners. 

Transgenerational trauma is a central theme of the work. It explores and draws attention to the lasting impact of war through the generations and how the effects on our mental health can be far reaching. Her own family’s history includes a grandfather, whose experience of designing arms that killed his contemporaries led to a post-war breakdown, that in turn had an impact on those around him. Baker said, ‘Everybody's family has got a war in it, so I hope that Great & Tiny War will resonate with everyone who visits’.

The domestic work that women do during wartime is undervalued and rarely represented by historic reflections on the war - yet it is what sustains life. Baker’s work celebrates this overlooked aspect of everyday life, and the strength of women and families in caring for those traumatised by war.  The installation includes a display of baked weapons and armour, made by women who have experience within their families of contemporary wars, either as members of the armed forces, asylum seekers or refugees. 

Bobby Baker’s Great & Tiny War is at 133 Sidney Grove, Arthurs Hill, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 5PE from Friday 7 September to 9 November 2018. It is commissioned by 14-18 NOW and co-produced by Wunderbar and Daily Life Ltd."

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