Samson Kambalu and guests populate Tattoo City at Castlefield Gallery, Manchester

By Mark Sheerin | 06 December 2012 | Updated: 07 December 2012
Sepia tinted photograph of an artist holding two sculptured mushroom clouds
The artist weighs up a couple of sculptures© Samson Kambalu

Exhibition Preview: Samson Kambalu and guests - Tattoo City: The First Three Chapters, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, until January 27 2013

By his own estimate, Samson Kambalu put on the first exhibition of conceptual art ever seen in his home country Malawi. Unsuspecting residents of this central African state turned up to the gallery, such as it must have been, to find footballs papered with pages of the bible.

While most would have lacked the artist’s background in Nietzchean philosophy, and known little of his dark smattering of Bataille and Crowley, apparently the footballs went down okay. His religion of Holyballism got off to a good start.

Now the Holyballist founder is looking for new adherents in Manchester, a football city if ever there was one. By way of support, Kambalu has co-curated a number of additional artists to support both his philosophy and that of Rudolph Steiner, Anthroposophy.

For the record, that eclectic list of names runs as follows: Lee Appelby, Joseph Beuys, Jochem Hendricks, Sigrid Holmwood, Kevin Hunt, Rei Kakiuchi, San Keller, Sam Mukumba, David Newbatt, Nicolas Pople, Hardeep Pandhal, and Poppy Whatmore.

Not satisfied with being Malawi’s first artist of his type, Kambalu is also putting the small country on the literary map. His first novel, The Jive Talker or How to Get a British Passport, charts his progress from the fringes of the developed world to the centre of the artworld.

That's reason to feature literature in his show and Kambalu does so by including his writing bureau among the exhibits. Visitors can also sample his latest novel Uccello’s Vineyard, as well as a chance to preview his work in progress, the show’s eponymous Tattoo City.

  • Open Wednesday-Sunday 1pm-6pm. Admission free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @CastlefieldGall.

Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.
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