23 APR - 20 MAY
OPENING 22 APR / 7pm

The Living Quality of Light, Time and Form, 2021 is a new 3 part animated film, and the first solo gallery presentation in the UK by British artist animator and film maker- Mary Martins.

Mary works with animation and moving image, using traditional animation practice to find new forms of representation through which to explore the world and her own lived experience.  She takes an experimental approach, overlaying animated sequences over analogue film footage she has shot.  Her use of abstract and gestural mark making mimics animation techniques from the 1950’s and results in playful and expressive collages of moving images and abstract forms that encourage fluid readings of her films.


Projected full screen in a dark grey gallery for striking visual affect The Living Quality of Light, Time and Form presents a  studied portrait of a capoeirista  - a capoeira    practitioner - performing carefully choreographed moves set to music with spoken word. In other sequences the performer plays a berimbau, a traditional single stringed instrument. 

This central subject of the performer is juxtaposed with abstract animated elements and film sequences that focus on the play of light and shadow.   Whilst the film is both an animated study of a performer and of a specific form of cultural expression, it is also a poetic ode to the spiritual dimension of capoeira, its origins and traditions.

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form and martial art that combines dance, music and acrobatics, using hands, feet and legs in expressive kicks, rocking steps, and flowing movements. It was developed by African slaves brought  to Brazil in the 16th century and incorporated dance and music in order to hide its fighting technique from the colonial gaze.  It has a strong spirtual dimension, being connected with the Afro-Brazillian religon of Candomblé. 

The martial art form (also referred to as dance, game or fight) was declared illegal in the 19th century but was gradually reintroduced in the 1920’s.  

Though the form has since gained worldwide recognition in multiple countries it is still strongly associated with an expressive form of cultural resistance and spiritual resilience that developed out of the context of the colonial slave trade.  


In making her work, Mary often applies an ethnographic lens to autobiographical subjects as a vehicle to explore specific places, cultural practices and alternative realities. Previous animated works have explored growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, or the views of family members on death and heaven.    Mary’s interest in Capoeria is in this history of resistance and its relationship to her own ancestorial roots.  


The Living Quality of Light, Time and Form is made using 16mm film footage recorded on 16mm B&W negative film, direct animation on 16mm film, scratch film on 16mm black leader and direct animation on 35mm film. These techniques  are used with double exposure and hand drawn elements to form  a film consisting of 3 parts that correspond to the title of the film:-  

Part 1
16mm black and white film, ink and nail polish on clear leader.
2 mins 22 secs

Part 2
Ink on 35mm film, 16mm black leader.
3 mins 42 sec

Part 3

16mm black and white film, ink on 35mm film, nail polish on clear leader.
5mins 10 sec


The Living Quality of Light, Time and Form was made collaboratively with the practitioners from the Grupo Muzenza, a long running community focused Capoeira group based in the London borough of Greenwich.  The group train in the Angola and Regional styles. The central figure of the performer is performed by Luiz Sousa, founder of Grupo Muzenza. 

The spoken poem was written by Mary Martins and then translated into Portuguese and recorded by a friend of the artist who is also a Capoeirista and based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The music is performed by Professor Saurê who plays ‘Sao bento pequeno, yina, Sao bento grande, Angola’ on the berimbau. The film was commissioned by TACO!


Mary  Martins is an artist film maker and animator living and working in  Thamesmead, London. She makes animated film and has screened her work nationally and Internationally. She studied philosophy at University of Birmingham, Animation and Moving image at University of East London, and documentary Animation at the Royal College of Art. Mary won the Mother Art Prize in 2016 shown at 198 Gallery, London, and in 2018 she was commissioned by the BFI and the BBC as part of the Animation 2018 programme, screened on BBC4 as part of a celebration of the best of British animation.




Open Thurs-Sun, 10:00-18:00

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tel: 020 3904 6637