Meet Larissa Shaw: Forward Artist

Ikon talks to artist Larissa Shaw, who participates in Forward: New Art from Birmingham, to hear more about her tactile work, process driven approach and her connection to Birmingham.

Follow this series of blog posts to hear more from artists exhibiting work in Forward. Ikon has also produced interviews, filmed at the artists’ studios, which will be released over the course of the exhibition. You can find them on our YouTube channel here.

Can you introduce yourself and give us an overview of your practice?

My name is Larissa Shaw, I am an artist in Birmingham, and I create extensions of surfaces that react with sound waves. I explore the threshold between sound and haptic properties concerned with the skin by experimenting with new tactile materials and sound frequencies.

Larissa Shaw, Flesh Party in group show at Grand Union (2018). Courtesy the artist.

What have you chosen to exhibit in Forward: New Art from Birmingham and why?

I chose to make new work for the show, but it is part of a series of works that have been developing for two years. The work in this show has taken me 13 months to learn how to cast and has taken over 100 hours to make the mould alone. I have tried over 30 types of silicone and worked with 3 manufacturers who specialise in bio-compatible silicone – which is used for medical applications and surgical implants – to learn how to cast longer tendrils. Not only does it mean that I have had a close relationship with making the work, but it allows me to feel like a bit of an expert at something. When I began learning how to cast long tendrils, there was a bit of a gap in trying to make what I wanted, and this felt like something I wanted to share.

Larissa Shaw, Soundtrack for Dancing Vibrissae and Other Soft Shore Things, Medicine Bakery and Gallery (2019)

Larissa Shaw, Music or Noise on a Long Thin Strand, Stryx (2018)

What’s it like being an artist in Birmingham, and how do you see art changing and moving forward here?

I have either worked, studied, lived in, or lived close enough to Birmingham for it to be my nearest city my whole life. My family owned shops in Birmingham since the 1780s until the 1950s, and I feel I will always have some connection to Birmingham. I have been very fortunate to have met many great, different arts communities within Birmingham: Grand Union, GU Women, Stryx, Eastside, STEAMhouse, Centrala, Vivid Projects, Recent Activity, Ikon Gallery, School of Art and Artefact to name a few.

I have been supported as an artist, as a female, as a learner and as an educator by everyone within Birmingham. Being an artist in Birmingham has been empowering. I hope that as Birmingham develops, with it comes more artists and more studios, galleries, clubs, fellows, residencies, programs and education.

Larissa Shaw, Flesh Party, Grand Union (2018)

See more of Larissa Shaw’s work at

Forward: New Art from Birmingham is a group exhibition, including work by approximately twenty five artists, living and working in this city, to highlight the depth and vitality of a wide range of practices. Taking place in Medicine, the old gallery space of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, from which sprang the young generation that founded Ikon more than 50 years ago, it couldn’t be more in keeping with their progressive ethos, still informing our artistic programme to this day.

Open 23 January — 24 March 2019. Entry is free, open daily 10am-5pm, at Medicine Bakery and Gallery. 69 New Street, Birmingham B2 4DU. Please note Medicine Bakery is only accessible via a steep staircase.


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