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  • Writer's picturedandelion

Souls Grown Deep Like the Rivers Royal Academy REVIEW

The emotive, lyrical title of the show is taken from a Langston Hughes poem, The Negro Speaks of Rivers. It sets the tone for a singular exhibition, unlike anything I have seen before. Showcasing the work of Black artists from the Southern States of the USA, it covers some tough issues but we think will appeal to kids, not least because of the imaginative use of found materials.

Discarded and salvaged objects and organic materials become richly symbolic sculptures addressing injustices, discrimination and economic challenges. Here is King of the Jungle by Thornton Dial Jnr made from old chains, junk metal and carpet. By the same artist, the moving Blue Skies: The Birds that Didn't Learn How to Fly is fashioned from barbed wire and rags. Lonnie Holley's Keeping a Record of It (Harmful Music) is made from a salvaged record player and skull.

Old wood planking and broken tree roots turn into soaring bird and totem figures. These artists are telling their story of their lived experience and their voice is strong and loud. Powerful stuff.

Souls Grown Deep Like the Rivers 17 March–18 June. Tickets £13–£15 adults, U16s free.


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