Sisters Doing It For Themselves: Brains & Lip Takeover at CNB Gallery

Monday 24th April sees the private view of Brains & Lip Takeover at East London’s emerging art hotspot, CNB Gallery. The all-woman exhibition, which showcases the work of nine fantastic artists, is curated by Claire Orme and Alice Steffen, the creative duo behind Brains & Lip.


Controversial, brash and witty, the artworks on view challenge and reclaim what it means to be a woman in contemporary society. The subversive painting, illustration and sculpture that feature in the exhibition explore discourses of identity, sexuality and female empowerment, resisting the restrictive expectations of the elitist, patriarchal art world.

Jess De Wahls, Consent, 2016, Fabric, 52 x 58 x 5cm.jpg
Jess de Wahls, Consent, 2016

We were thrilled to be able to speak with the two visionaries behind the ‘takeover’ in advance of next week’s exhibition.

ArtAttack: How did you both meet and what made you decide to collaborate on Brains & Lip?

Brains & Lip: We met when we worked together as artist’s assistants in London. Several months of blow-torching mustard onto sheet metal and pouring silicone into manhole covers convinced us to sack off working for the man, take control of our careers and build something new and exciting. We’ve both been involved in many arts fairs and exhibitions, and we wanted to start an organisation that helps new and experienced female artists, in what seems to be an enduringly male-dominated landscape. 

AA: If you could choose 5 words to describe the inspiration behind Brains & Lip, what would they be?






AA: How did you find the artists for this upcoming CNB Takeover?

B&L: For the CNB takeover, we’ve chosen a group of artists previously known to us, through art school and organising exhibitions, together with a selection of new artists, which is very exciting. As well as meeting people face to face at shows and events, we use online resources such as Instagram to scout out new work. 

AA: How are your own artistic practises informed by the events going on in the world today?

Claire Orme: The current climate of misogynistic politics has pushed me to be bolder and more daring in my ideas and practice. I feel provoked to utilise my artwork as a tool for making my voice, and the voices of my fellow women, heard.

Alice Steffen: I have always had a brass neck attitude to making work. Events of the past few year have just given me an kick to carrying on what I am doing. Sticking together and making opportunities for each other.

AA: What is the ultimate goal for Brains & Lip?

B&L: Ultimately, we are striving to change the way the art world works. We want exciting artists from a wide range of backgrounds to be supported in their practices. Art should be enjoyed and celebrated, rather than elitist and guarded for the select few that have the money or ‘power’ to see and buy it.

AA: When you curate a show, what are a few things you think are most important to make it work?

B&L: Firstly, all the pieces need to be strong in their own right. We like work to be challenging in some way – whether it be the message of the work, the size or the medium. In terms of curating a group show, the pieces need to have ‘conversations’ with each other. We want people to go in and not simply read each piece by itself, but start to pick up on dialogues between the artworks.

Brains & Lip Takeover will be on view at CNB Gallery from 25 April – 28 May, 2017; 32 Rivington St, London EC2A 3LX; Open Daily from 11AM – 6PM; Admission: FREE

Riikka Hyvonen, Ma Bum Bruise, 2016, Acrylic and glitter on MDF and leather, 110 x 140 x 21 cm.jpg
Riika Hyvonen, Ma Bum Bruise, 2016 
Nicky Carvell, Apex View, 2014, Digital Print on Dibond, 130 x 154cm.jpg
Nikki Carvel, Apex View, 2014
Claire Orme, Babe, stop sending me mixed messages, 2015, Mixed Media.jpg
Claire Orme, Babe Stop Sending Me Mixed Messages, 2015

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