UCL Urban Laboratory


Sonia E Barrett | Maplective Public Exhibition

08 April 2024–15 June 2024, 10:00 am–6:00 pm

Sonia E Barrett

Artist Sonia E Barrett takes European colonial tools, instrumental in creating colonial power, and reconfigures them to do the cultural work they disrupted.

This event is free.

Event Information

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UCL Urban Room


Urban Room
1 Pool Street
E20 2AF
United Kingdom

In the Maplective exhibition, artist Sonia E Barrett takes European colonial tools, instrumental in creating colonial power, and reconfigures them to do the cultural work they disrupted. Colonial maps, desks and cameras are reimagined to make tools that draw on pre-colonial cultural instruments. 

The maplective is a collective of black and brown women, taking techniques of personal care embedded in black communities and using them to deal with maps. In dread-locking or braiding the map, they developed their first work (pictured), creating a space for a new understanding of maps and the unravelling of colonial power.

Through sculpture, discussion and performance, Sonia invites us to respond to this work along with two works from the newly formed collective, Tool Breakers Corp (TBC) – to co-create a new sculpture that reframes the question, 'What was here before?'.

The exhibition is a starting point for a further residency that reflects on the use of sculpture to create space and convey change. Welcoming Sonia to the Urban Room is an invitation to all women to come together and explore themes of time, space, geography and the built environment.

Plan your visit

The exhibition runs from Friday 15 March to Saturday 15 June 2024. 

Visit Monday–Saturday, 10:00–18:00, no need to book.

Tickets are required for specific events. 

Exhibition Opening | Thursday 14 March | 18:30- 20:30 

Exhibition opening and talk by the curators, Sonia E Barrett and Dr Kara Blackmore. Refreshments provided.

Book now

Sonia E Barrett

Sonia E Barrett is an artist whose work unpacks the boundaries between the Determined and the determining with a focus on race and gender. She makes sculptural works so she can run her hands alone the fissures and manifest strategies for multiple compatible existences and mourn. Her sculptural practice includes place making with a view to assembling communities under the threat of climate to (Re)claim space as well as instituting permanently.

Born in the UK of Jamaican and German parentage Sonia E Barrett grew up in Hong Kong, Zimbabwe, Cyprus and the UK. She studied literature at the University of St Andrews, Scotland and her MFA at Transart Institute Berlin/New York. Sonia is a MacDowell fellow and has been recognised by the Premio Ora prize, NY Art-Slant showcase for sculpture and the Neo Art Prize. She has exhibited at the National Gallery of Jamaica; 32 degrees East Gallery, Kampala, Uganda; the Heinrich Böll Institute Germany; the British Library; The Museum of Derby, and the Kunsthaus Nürnberg.

Kara Blackmore

Dr Kara Blackmore is a curator and researcher who works at the intersections of arts, heritage, and social repair. Her practice is informed by long-term collaborations in areas affected by conflict and migration. Kara is the curator of the UCL Urban Room where she supports experiential teaching, leads exhibition-based research, and fosters community dialogue.

She is also the Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded Art Allies project at the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa. For this research, Kara works with colleagues in South Sudan and Colombia to investigate how artists and allied activists stay safe in regions impacted by prolonged violence.

About the UCL Urban Room

Located at One Pool Street, the public-facing UCL Urban Room hosts events, exhibitions, workshops and engagement with local stakeholders, professional audiences, and the wider public. Exploring the impact of industry, globalisation, regeneration and gentrification on the six Olympic Park boroughs and their people, UCL Urban Room is a partnership between UCL Urban Laboratory, The Bartlett, School for the Creative and Cultural Industries and UCL Library Services: Special Collections.

For more information email urbanroom@ucl.ac.uk.

Photo credit: Sonia E Barrett

Map Installation at Queens Gardens with Zelda