In Pictures: See Inside Artist and Poet Penny Goring’s Moving, Funny, and Confrontational World in a New Show at ICA London

The exhibition is the artist's first U.K. retrospective.

Penny World at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (ICA). Photo credit © Anne Tetzlaff

The artist and poet Penny Goring’s clever and biting work has been getting a lot of attention lately, and now she’s having her first U.K. retrospective, at the ICA in London.

The exhibition, “Penny World,” takes us through 30 years of Goring’s emotive, political, and confrontational practice that encompasses sculpture, painting, drawing, video, and poetry, including some of her key series, “Anxiety Objects” (2017) and “ART HELL” (2019-20).

As an artist who has worked through trauma and poverty, Goring makes a point of using food dye, biros, and other inexpensive or free materials to make her work. If she uses a computer, she takes advantage of the free program Microsoft Paint that often comes preloaded on it. In her more recent work, she uses her financial restrictions, lack of therapy, and housing issues to address the reality faced of a lot of creatives in London at a time of a cost-of-living crisis.

Penny Goring, Yearn (2013). Image courtesy of the Artist and Arcadia Missa, London

“Despite the violence they depict, there is a sense of comfort to be found in Penny’s work,” Rosalie Doubal, curator at the ICA, said in a statement. ” Her works are empathetic; they embody the disorientation and stasis brought on by states such as grief. They also offer strength and, in their humor, disarming normality.

“ART HELL” (2019-20) looks specifically at the effects of recent legislation by the conservative government in the U.K. It was inspired by the PTSD visions of two alter egos of Goring’s, which comment on structural and systemic violence.

Penny Goring, Those who live without torment (Red 4), (2020). Photo courtesy of the Artist and Arcadia Missa, London

“I have always lived under the rule of men and money, and right now, I am angry at the ways it hobbles my life and my body,” said Goring. “I find the future we are in to be terrifying. Also ridiculous, in the way of a murderous clown. And I hate that it somehow feels inevitable, relentless, like a speeding juggernaut.”

Goring’s work communicates themes of violence, humor, and emotional health or the lack thereof through her use of fabric, color, and texture. Her “Anxiety Objects” (2017), designed to be worn on the body to alleviate anxious feelings, and her dolls offer a kind of comfort for darker times. Through addressing these themes in the places that they exist her works offer solidarity and humor.

Penny Goring, Dust Doll, (2019). Photo: Tim Bowditch. Courtesy of the artist and Arcadia Missa, London

“The body of work that Penny has produced over the last three decades is astonishing, and her very human compulsion to create as a form of coping is profoundly moving. I could not be more honored that the ICA has had the great privilege of staging this significant exhibition,” said Doubal.


Repeat Offender, from Fail Like Fire by Penny Goring. Photo courtesy the artist.

Penny Goring, Dim Jaw, (1995). Photo courtesy of the Artist and Arcadia Missa, London


Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.