By Olivier Vergnault

An internationally recognised artist is to have his first UK solo exhibition in Cornwall.

Very Volcanic Over This Green Feather will be Kosovo artist Petrit Halilaj’s first UK show and will take place at Tate St Ives throughout Autumn and winter.

Petrit, who was born in Kostërrc in 1986 is internationally recognised for his expansive artworks, often using his own biography to reflect on private and collective histories in constant transformation.

Deeply connected to Kosovo’s recent history, he frequently incorporates materials from his native country and re-elaborates them through installation, performance, textiles, drawing and video. His work explores issues related to individual memory and cultural identity.

Displaced by the Kosovo War (1998–9) as a 13-year-old, Petrit and his family lived at the Kukës II and Lezhe-Shengjin refugee camps in Albania in 1999.

For this exhibition, the Berlin-based artist will present a poignant new installation reimagining a collection of felt-tip drawings he made as a child at Kukës II.

The original pictures were created under the guidance of Italian psychologist Giacomo ‘Angelo’ Poli, who was taking part in a humanitarian mission at the refugee camp.

Angelo supported the children in communicating their experiences through drawing, encouraging them to document the destruction they had experienced but also to imagine ideal, fantasy worlds for the future as a tool to escape the present.

In a period of 15 days, Petrit created 38 drawings, all of which have been preserved by his Italian mentor until today. After Angelo’s departure, Petrit continued to create drawings of his experiences, one of which he showed to Kofi Annan, then Secretary General of the United Nations, when he visited Albania.

In 2021 Petrit revisited the original pictures he made with Angelo for the first time in over two decades. It is that work which he will use to create an immersive environment within Tate St Ives’ largest gallery, in St Ives, Cornwall, magnifying and reconstituting fragments from the original drawings on a grand scale to reflect on personal and collective memories.

An adjoining gallery space will offer additional information about the Kosovo War and the political and social contexts which continue to impact the country and Kosovar society.

The exhibition will take place from October until January 16, 2022 at Tate St Ives.

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