Vice and Virtue: the artists

Vice and Virtue is a mixed media exhibition by six artists who respond in substantially different ways to the rising religiosity of contemporary social justice movements. Much of the work was made specifically for the exhibition which continues until July 26th at Ruup & Form.

This posts introduces the artists

image, right, shows Ruth Schryber's paintings with my four jugs from 'Everygender: A Morality Play in IV Pots.'

Ruth Shryber is a painter doing a practice based PhD researching how artists work, with a particular focus on the precarious circumstances artists have been in since the banking crash and Covid. Her training at Wimbledon School of art, known for its craft based approach to painting, feeds her interest in the material processes of the art. She often paints over old work or on to the back of the canvases or cuts them up and reassembles them into entirely new works. This also saves the endless expense of buying new materials.

She has responded to my proposal by rejecting narrative approaches altogether and asserts that she does not  bring her beliefs - or her scepticism - into her art. Rather she focuses on the materials and on the abstract, formal elements of the work. She does not necessarily know what the out come of a painting will be. She says working on this exhibition has made her realise that this is a central guiding belief in itself.

Below left, an image of Anna Berry's work, 'Unstable,' is paired with three of Nina Edge's works in 'No Picnic.

Anna Berry is a self-taught, 'outsider' artist whose recent success winning a Jerwood Maker's Award, (2021,) and a major commission from Unlimited for 'Breathing Room,' which premiered at Milton Keynes International Festival heralded a breakthrough into the mainstream art world. She is best known for her grass roots interventions in non-gallery environments, as well as her large scale immersive installations. Her current focus is porcelain sculpture which was very favourably received at Sotheby's earlier this  year.

Art gallery with exhibition
'Unstable,' 2024,  porcelain, steel and ribbon
Death of the Matriarch, 2022, Kay Le Seelleur
black and white drawing of figures falling

Anna has produced a new piece in the 'Unstable' series for Vice and Virtue incorporating a blood red glaze giving a wounded appearance. She is sharply critical of identitarianism and asks, 'How do you fare in a world where identity is sanctified? Is this piety beneficial or dehumanising? When will the witches stop being burned?

Nina Edge

Nina Edge is a multi-skilled, multi-media artist, whose best known work, Snakes and Ladders, (1985,) is in Women In Revolt, the block buster Tate Britain touring show, currently at the National Galleries, Scotland. She was prominent in the Black Arts Movement in 1980s/90s, taking part in Along the Lines of Resistance, (South London Gallery/touring,) curated by Sutapa Biswas, Sarah Edge and Claire Slattery, 'Circular Dance,' Arnolfini, Bristol, curated by Nima Poovaya Smith, and 'Trophies of Empire,' initiated by artist Keith Piper and the Bluecoat in Liverpool, working with Arnolfini in Bristol and Hull Time Based Arts.

Nina was represented by Maud Sulter's Gallery, Rich Women of Zurich, in the early 2000s until it closed in 2003. Over the last two decades, she has worked closely with Tate Liverpool and focused on public artworks that can be seen by large numbers of people in venues as diverse as local street hoardings and shops, Granby Winter Garden, and Clatterbridge Cancer Hospital. She brings her humour and consummate skill to Vice and Virtue with a new work, 'No Picnic,' a series of glowing colour sketches which she sums up in the statement: 'It is possible to become trapped by the quest for betterment.'


Con-she artist is a conscientious objector, hard living, boozy Pierrot, and presenter of the Wokely Roundup - a back room broadcast covering news events from a sceptical viewpoint. The artist is currently exhibiting in New York with Passion for Freedom, and with Not for Sale Gallery in Hackney Wick, London in 2+2=5. I am delighted to be hosting some of Con-she's work in Vice and Virtue alongside these ground breaking exhibitions. Con-she is also the author of Manifesto for Humans: On Art, Writing, and Life. Her name, Con-she, is a play on words - 'with her' as well as 'conscientious objector,' and is reflected in her splendidly abbreviated 'artist statement': Art must be free to be nuanced, complex, and un-didactic.'

The image above is a still from her film of the performance, 'Walking On Eggshells,' 2024, made specifically for Vice and Virtue and performed on location earlier this year.

Kay Leseeleur Ara

Kay trained at Corsham school of Art, an avant garde school modelling itself on the Bauhaus. In her 4 years (1958-1962) there, she was taught by Howard Hodgkin and Gillian Ayres along with a roll call of British modernists including William Scott and Adrian Heath. After art school, life intervened with babies and the demands of family.  Jersey, where Kay had lived for most of life, offered few opportunities to advance her career or her practise and she appeared to let go of her long held ambition of being an artist.

An accident in late 2019 left Kay permanently unable to walk without sticks or a frame. She turned this devastating fact into an opportunity and threw herself into her practice resolving to paint and draw every single day, a resolution she has kept to ever since.

Kay Ara has exhibited at the Royal West Academy in Bristol, Bankside in London, Jersey’s CCA Gallery, won the JJ Fox several times and collaborated with her daughter for an installation piece at the Barbican Centre in London. It is an honour to able to include her work in Vice and Virtue and look out for a work at the British Art Fair, 2025. Her acclaimed exhibition at ArtHouse, Jersey, won her a an international audience which follows her on her three Instagram pages as well as attending her exhibitions. Any of her now considerable oeuvre would have been the perfect fit for Vice and Virtue.

The image featured here is 'Death of the Matriarch,' one of Kay's many paintings dealing with religion and its impact on family.

I also have work in this exhibition. As well as the four jugs comprising, 'Everygender: A Morality Play in IV Pots,' there are three more works, which are in the 'rhyming jugs.' The Ballad of Sister Bergdorf is one example. It is the one I most often 'perform.' Performance was an important part of this exhibition. I was delighted that Tramontana Ensemble joined us for a performance of 'Vicious Virtue: a Morality Play Gone Wrong,' of which more in another post. Meanwhile, do read more about them on their website.

Finally, there is a black and white printed record of the exhibition, 'Vice and Virtue, the Annals 2024.' It features a drawing from every artist, a work in progress record of the show as it was coming together. There is also a written statement from every artist - some are only one line, some longer. The Annals will be added to the catalogues of earlier exhibitions available in my online shop here.

Vice and Virtue is the first show in a mainstream, commercial, London gallery to show art that is 'gender critical,' and by an artist, (me) that has been punished for it. Con-she's performance/video exposes the gross hypocrisy of the 'be kind' command and Nina Edge's work, 'no picnic' questions much of the prevailing discourse around environmental issues. All three of us do so with both knowledge and humour.

The expulsion of female artists from exhibitions and events is relevant to this show. Three of us have been and are still directly affected and a fourth has a family member who has been. My thanks to Ruth Schryber and the four women in Tramontana for resisting the 'contagion' issue and showing/performing with us. Above all, Ruup & Form deserve gratitude and congratulations for presenting this exhibition and doing so beautifully.