Graeme Mortimer Evelyn’s work comments on cultural social identity, politics and language. He describes these narratives forming “when fragments of relation, memory, society, identity and modernity, which seem disparate at first, come together to form a whole”. His works have been displayed and collected in Gloucester Cathedral, African American Center Princeton University, Cornell University NY, Museum in Docklands London, Watershed and M-Shed, Bristol.
Through a recent series of commissions, Evelyn has developed a reputation for creating work that is situated in municipal buildings and places of worship that subvert these settings and philosophies and act as a catalyst to enable a questioning and broader democratisation of our public spaces. For Evelyn, institution denotes systems, memorial, edifice, myth, belief and popular opinion. The intention of his work is to seek alternative dialogues and ask challenging questions, creating work that engages new audiences to institutional spaces.
Evelyn’s reliance on detailed in-depth subject research creates the framework and give context to his experimental use of varied and diverse mediums, such as, The Two Coins: Meditations on Trade (a 55min moving image work), shot in locations which included, Ghana, Mali, Malawi and the UK, created in response to Abolition200 and illustrated a dormant history as silent meditation. The project was a contemporary response to monuments erected in memory of 18th century traders, presenting an unprejudiced historical legacy while highlighting collective responsibility to prevent negative forms of 21st century trade, which often create new forms of modern slavery. The work has been adopted as part of the teaching programme for the BA (Hons) History at University of the West of England.
In 2009, Evelyn was commissioned by the new Museum of Bristol to subvert historical record. The result of extensive research and an old Chinese gambling table - the museum acquired the large painted relief sculpture, Reading the Riot (Act), a permanent work acquired for their new contemporary art collections. This commission is on permanent display in the M-Shed Museum of Bristol. It is an uncompromising and challenging piece of the long history of dissent within the city, which in retrospect, since the riots in Stokes Croft, Bristol, democracy protests internationally, unrest in Greece /Spain and especially the recent riots in London, Reading the Riot (Act) seems strangely prophetic.
Most recently, Evelyn was Saint Stephen's Church Bristol UK first Artist-in-Residence, commissioned to create the new permanent modern altarpiece, the Reconciliation Reredos unveiled January 2011. St Stephen’s is one of the oldest churches in Bristol and is significant in the history of the city as the church that blessed every ship that left the port, including every merchant slave vessel that left the city. The Reconciliation Reredos is a contemporary artwork of universal reconciliation that responds to the church's past, reflects the voices of the city today while representing the potential of the future.
Evelyn has contributed to discussions on the role of public art for the Museum in Docklands London Festival of Architecture, Virtual Migrants series at the Arnolfini, Bristol and was invited to contribute to panel discussions at the Caribbean Curatorship and National Identity Conference in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Evelyn is currently in the R&D phase of concluding his exploration into Christian iconographic visual narratives with a contemporary understanding and response to The Last Supper, commenced with the Stations of the Cross commissioned by Gloucester Cathedral for lent 2006/07. In the course of this research, he was invited by and met with Martin Clayton, Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at The Royal Collection and given exclusive access to The Royal Library Windsor Castle archive to view and research Leonardo da Vinci's preparatory drawings of The Last Supper and the extensive catalogue of da Vinci studies of anatomy, divinity and the grotesque.