Under the Skin

Unit 197, Borough Yards, London
Under the Skin image
Event has ended
This event ended on Sunday 8th of October 2023

Unit 197, Borough Yards, London

Nearest Tube/Rail Stations
London Bridge 0.21 miles

The English National Opera Launches ‘Under the Skin’ - a celebration of diversity in opera - in collaboration with Mobile Art Disco.
spectacular exhibition of new artworks created by leading artists – including Stuart Semple, Sara Pope, Nathan Bowen, My Dog Sighs and Matt Small – inspired by the work of the ENO’s approach to diversity – is launching at the Mobile Art Disco gallery, Borough Yards on Sep 15th.

Entitled ‘Under The Skin’, the exhibition is the result of a 12 month collaboration between the ENO and Mobile Art Disco. Conceived as ‘both a celebration of and manifesto for the future’, the project provides a platform for the extraordinary creative & cultural output nurtured by the ENO’s approach to inclusivity and relevance.

The spectacular spectrum of resulting works provide a proof-positive portrait of the diversity of creatives working within the opera industry.
The ENO sets itself apart from traditional opera houses by focusing on making opera accessible, and with the believe that positive change for the industry comes from removing barriers to access. Performers sing in English to be accessible to the widest possible audience, as well as offering free tickets for under 21s to every performance and at every level of the theatre. They have extended discounts for under 35s, and tickets available for as little as £10 for everyone else.

Appealing to a new and progressive generation, the inclusivity and relevance work actively encourages diversity of creatives to join ENO and is delivering some spectacular results. Already at a national diverse representation, 20% of ENO’s principal freelance performers last season were people who are ethnically diverse. The ENO is committed to ensuring this level of representation on stage is maintained and aims to meet the London diverse representation target of 48% by 2030.

To celebrate and accelerate this commitment, ENO & MAD have commissioned a series of new works by leading artists inspired by the work of these producers of colour. 25% of sales from these works will go towards funding Fellowships for Global Majority musicians next year.

Curated by Bee Hepworth – MAD’s resident curator and printed edition specialist – this is an exhibition about diversity. Each artist has been paired with a diverse crew member of the ENO who have become their muse and inspiration for their piece of art. Stuart Semple, for example, has been inspired by celloist Tamaki, spending time with her in the orchestra pit. He used paint to mimic what the cello did and similarly Tamaki, played back what the paintworks sounded like on her cello. All the works are different so the exhibition feels as diverse and inclusive as the ENO itself.

There will be 20 exclusive artworks in the exhibition, including 9 limited edition prints. The exhibition will take place at Borough Yards, a creative, dining, leisure and retail destination in Borough.


EVE DE HAAN: Eve de Haan applies her love of the written word to a growing portfolio of neon artworks. The London-based artist describes her work as “progressive and positive” and is interested in art as a form of communication.

NATHAN BOWEN: Nathan Bowen is a London-based street artist running a movement called After Lives. He has greatly left his stamp on the walls of London over the years and continues to amaze passers-by coming from all around the world.

CAMERON UGBODU: Growing up on Austria where the artist and his family were the only Black people Ugbodu’s work is dedicated to what he didn’t see: Blackness. Through his work, Ugbodu importantly depicts the softness of Blackness - and for Ugbodu, it is paramount that his work is accessible and visible to the people he represents.

VIOLETTA SOFIA: Violetta’s fashion pictures and celebrity portraits are in demand for the likes of Vogue and Deadline Hollywood. In her practice, she also explores issues of identity, race, inequality and politics.

SARA POPE: Sara aims to capture the sensuality and seductive power conveyed by the lips and mouth. Interested in questions of beauty, communication, and the notion of perfection, Sara uses the perspective of her commercial experience to explore these themes.

MATTHEW SMALL: Matthew Small’s work has strong urban roots. By painting directly onto found pieces of metal, he brings physical elements of the city directly into his work. Matthew’s portraits have a sense of energy and power that compensates for how some people are often overlooked in our flash-in-the-attention-span culture. in

STUART SEMPLE: Stuart Semple is a multidisciplinary British artist working across painting, sculpture, happenings, technology and activism. He is well known for his sociologically engaged works that often discuss youth politics, accessibility and democracy.

FLO LEE: Florence has only been a professional artist for 5 years, however in that time she is booked up with commissions and built a huge following. Her portraits are playful, colouful and capture the soul of her subjects.

EMEL: Edouard Lyons, AKA EMEL is a graphic designer by trade and has worked on a huge range of projects from large murals for the hospitality industry to repackaging the likes of Sipsmith's Gin.

For his debut printed edition EMEL will be bringing his abundance of energy, love for the printed process and enthusiasm to the brief.

MY DOG SIGHS: My Dog Sighs's style is characterised by the combination of melancholic and often naive portraiture with the use of found materials including abandoned food cans. After 10 years of giving his art away for free as part of the now infamous Free Art Friday project, My Dog Sighs now has five sold out shows under his belt, and a strong following of staunchly loyal fans on social media.

Tags: Exhibition

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