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Leyla Stevens: Labours for colour

Posted on Wednesday 9 June 2021

From 19 June – 24 August, Mosman Art Gallery will present a new video work by Australian-Balinese artist Leyla Stevens. Labours for colour will be exhibited in The Cube, the Gallery’s dedicated space for video and experimental art. 

Labours for colour has been commissioned to coincide with the exhibition Upacara: Ceremonial art from Southeast Asia which will also be exhibited at Mosman Art Gallery from 19 June – 24 August. Upacara features objects from the collection of Dr John Yu AC and the late Dr George Soutter AM, and Stevens has created Labours for colour in response to this significant collection of textiles and artefacts. 

The moving image work weaves in a reflection on the diasporic condition of cultural objects, as they migrate around the world through collection practices. As a counterpoint lineage, documentation is shown of textile artisans on the Balinese island Nusa Penida and the labours they enact to produce the cepuk style weaving that the island is known for. Moving through various stages of textile production, from the harvesting of cotton, to the final weaving, the video focuses on highly skilled gestures that bring these textiles to life. Through this interweaving of disparate places and processes, the video invites a consideration of the many hands that touch and shape a textile during its trajectory from ritualised object to collected artefact.

About the artist

Currently based in Sydney, Leyla Stevens works predominately within moving image and photography. Her practice is informed by ongoing concerns around gesture, ritual, spatial encounters and transculturation. Working within modes of representation that shift between documentary and speculative fictions, her interest lies in the recuperation of counter histories within dominant narratives. 

Stevens is the recipient of the 66th Blake Prize Established Artist Prize and has been selected as a finalist for the 2019 NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging) at Artspace, Sydney and 2018 John Fries Award at UNSW Galleries, Sydney. She is currently presenting new work in The National 2021: New Australian Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Recent solo exhibitions include: A Line in the Sea, West Space, Melbourne, for PHOTO 2021 Festival; Dua Dunia, PS Art Space, Fremantle, for Perth Festival, (2021); and Their Sea is Always Hungry, UTS ART, Sydney (2019). Recent group exhibitions include: I am a heart beating in the world: Diaspora Pavilion 2, curated by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and International Curators Forum (UK), held at Campbelltown Arts Centre (2021); and The Past is the Present is the Future, Granville Art Centre (2021). She is currently undertaking doctoral research at the University of Technology Sydney.

The Gallery is hosting an In Conversation event with Stevens on Saturday 14 August, 2pm, where she will discuss her practice and this new video work. Bookings at

Last updated Thursday 8 July 2021