Simone Brewster uncovers the power of everyday objects in London exhibition

Simone Brewster's exhibition ‘The Shape of Things’ at Now Gallery is set to run until 24 September 2023

sculptural sofa and wooden vessels, as part of Simone Brewster's exhibition ‘The Shape of Things’ at Now Gallery
(Image credit: Now Gallery)

A new exhibition on London’s Greenwich Peninsula explores the power of objects, with Now Gallery’s 2023 Design Commission ‘The Shape of Things’ exploring the linguistics of design through furniture, painting, jewellery and sculpture.     

At the helm is designer Simone Brewster, whose multidisciplinary output goes under the spotlight here. ‘I have the opportunity to show the full cross section of my creative outputs so I’ll be showing furniture, jewellery and paintings,’ Brewster says. ‘I also designed the elements that bring all of these pieces together and stage the space. One of the works I’m most excited about showing is a piece acquired by the Smithsonian Museum called The Negress. Functionally, she is a chaise lounge whose supporting elements are made up of the legs, head and breasts of the black female form, but thematically she touches on subjects like the hidden work of women, black female objectification and of plantation slavery. Themes within this piece link to many of the other items in the show. I’ll be displaying a collection of turned wood sculptural vessels from my collection Tropical Noire alongside large scale paintings and a selection of jewellery.’

Designer Simone Brewster holding a wooden vessel

Top, Negress Chaise Longue Mammy Table Simone Brewster and above, the designer with her work

(Image credit: Now Gallery)

For Now Gallery curator Jemima Burrill, Brewster was a natural choice. ‘I noticed Simone’s sensual painting on Instagram in lockdown,’ she says. ‘They seemed so free during that uncomfortable time. The forms echoed her jewellery and sculpture which contain an exploration of race, gender and equality. What is evident in the work she is presenting is that it riffs off each other. There are similarities in theme: her love of architecture, her play with shapes and her deep belief that design can be a powerful tool to express thoughtful emotion.  She has created a colourful space that is so joyful. Within this space she is placing her work which bridges the gap between her heritage and her current design aesthetic.’

silver ball jewellery by Simone Brewster

Long Pearl Large Pearl, Simone Brewster

(Image credit: Now Gallery)

Brewster’s works explore a juxtaposition of themes which reflect the tension in the sculptural forms of the pieces themselves, dialogues effortlessly translated by Brewster into the curved silhouettes of her work. ‘I look at my work much like my handwriting, it’s a natural expression of who I am,’ she adds. ‘What becomes evident when you view all of the pieces together is how my voice takes on a new medium, whilst retaining key points of interest. The bold forms in my paintings are an extension of the deconstructed forms in my furniture in a very literal way. I began painting when I was unable to make in 3D during the lockdowns. I wanted to continue exploring themes of societal pressure and expectation on the female form and the only way I could do that was through painting. This interplay between disciplines has been in my practice from the start. My sculptural vessels have much of the language of my jewellery, where I’m able to play with materials at a smaller scale and explore with less restriction. I often scale my findings up and see how this affects how we relate to the object and the impact it has on a space.’ 

NOW Gallery on London’s Greenwich Peninsula presents its 2023 Design Commission, The Shape of Things, by one of the leading voices in contemporary design Simone Brewster. Open to the public between 29 June - 24 September 2023

sculptural sofa and wooden vessels

Tropical Noire

(Image credit: Now Gallery)

Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.