Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness

Past exhibition
Hayward Gallery Touring

Image of artist John Walter in his installation
Jonathan Bassett

Hand-made, deliberately clumsy and lo-fi works contrast with the slick production of much contemporary art

Hayward Touring’s Curatorial Open exhibition explores the nature of visual awkwardness through the work of artists and architects.

Shonky is a slang term meaning corrupt or bent, shoddy or unreliable, standing here for a particular type of visual aesthetic that is hand-made, deliberately clumsy and lo-fi, against the slick production values of much contemporary art.

The exhibition proposes a more celebratory definition of ‘shonkiness’ and showing how it can be used for critical purposes in the visual arts to explore issues including gender, identity, beauty and the body. By drawing together artists and architects whose work has not previously been exhibited together or discussed within the same context, Shonky allows for new ways of thinking that privilege shonkiness over other aesthetic forms that have dominated recent visual culture.

In a series of conceptual rooms, Shonky explores this aesthetic across a range of media including paintings, sculpture, video, architecture and performance.

Shonky: The Aesthetics of Awkwardness is curated by John Walter. It opens at the MAC in Belfast before embarking on a national tour to Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) and Bury Art Museum and Sculpture Centre.

Featured Artists

Arakawa and Gins; Cosima von Bonin; Niki de Saint Phalle; Benedict Drew; Justin Favela; Duggie Fields; Louise Fishman; Friedensreich Hundertwasser; Kate Lepper; Andrew Logan; Plastique Fantastique; Jacolby Satterwhite; Tim Spooner and John Walter.

Exhibition venues

This exhibition toured to the following venues:

  • Mac, Belfast
  • DCA, Dundee
  • Bury Art Museum and Sculpture, Bury
Touring exhibitions

Find out more about our touring exhibitions programme, including exhibitions on tour and available to visit or hire.