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Moki: Home as stage, stage as home
Institute of Contemporary Arts
Moki Cherry with her children Neneh and Eagle-eye and other visitors at the dome project at Utopia and Visions, Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Moki Cherry with her children Neneh and Eagle-eye and other visitors at the dome project at Utopia and Visions, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 1971. Courtesy of Cherry archive, Estate of Moki Cherry

In this panel, Moki Cherry’s extraordinary legacy as an artist and a parent is expanded upon by Moki’s family, Neneh Cherry and Tyson McVey with guest speakers artist Linder Sterling and author Hettie Judah.

Moki writes about her experience of the invisible social structures that have existed for generations and still fail society by placing emphasis on women as primary caregivers and domestic workers, as enshrined in policy and law. In reflecting on cooking, cleaning, caring for children and being her husband’s muse, she often pushed into the hard edges at the confines of her role. Reflecting on her domesticity in text, sketches, poems and in the practice of raising children and caring for her family and community and through music, textiles, writing and spiritual practice she wove all the threads of her creative being into art work.

Her most visible work to date has been the twenty-year long collaboration carried out with her partner Don Cherry, that included their Organic Music project, many tours and workshops, and having children. This exhibition however, co-curated with Moki’s granddaughter Naima Karlsson, has centred Moki as an artist in her own right, who worked with the conditions available to her to become a force of productive art making and radical thought.  Moki’s art and life coalesced around the material conditions of her everyday: growing food, feeding and dressing her family whilst sewing tapestries and involving the family in a children’s TV show and moving the family into a biodome as a living artwork.

This discussion will explore the conditions in which Moki Cherry lived her artistic life and entwined motherhood, creativity and a daily making practice, and considers what conditions might enable artistic practice, reproduction and domesticity to stand in workable balance.


6.30pm  Talk and introduction by Naima Karlsson, co-curator of Moki: Here and Now

7 – 8pm  Discussion

8pm  Questions

Naima Karlsson (b. 1982) is a multi-disciplinary artist and musician based in London. Her practice interweaves sonic and visual forms led by interests in repetition, improvisation, and the abstract relationships between language, symbol, image, and sound. Naima’s main instrument is the piano, as well as percussion, vibraphone, and organ. Improvisation is at the core of the artist's musical process, combined with minimalist uses of tone, arrangement, and an inherently organic approach to playing. Naima is part of the duo Exotic Sin with Kenichi Iwasa, and she is an archivist and coordinator for the Estate of Moki Cherry and Cherry Archive.

Hettie Judah is chief art critic on the British daily paper The i, a regular contributor to The Guardian’s arts pages, and a columnist for Apollo magazine. After publishing her 2020 study on the impact of motherhood on artists’ careers in 2021 she worked with a group of artists to draw up the manifesto How Not To Exclude Artist Parents, now available in 15 languages. In 2022, together with Jo Harrison, Hettie co-founded the Art Working Parents Alliance – a supportive network and campaigning group for curators, academics, gallerists, technicians, educators and others working in the arts. Recent books include How Not To Exclude Artist Mothers (and other parents) and Lapidarium: The Secret Life of Stones. She is currently working on a book and Hayward Touring exhibition On Art and Motherhood (opening at Arnolfini in Bristol, March 2024) among other things.

Linder Sterling (b.1954, Liverpool, UK) is known for her photography, radical feminist photomontage, and confrontational performance art. Emerging from the Manchester punk and post-punk scenes in the 1970s, Linder focuses on questions of gender, commodity and display. Her highly recognisable photomontage practice combines everyday images from domestic or fashion magazines with images from pornography and other archival material. Cut and montaged by hand using a scalpel and glue, the juxtapositions recall a rich art history harking back to Hannah Hoch and the Dadaists.

Neneh Cherry (b. 1964) is a singer with a four decade career of music, songwriting and performing. A sonic force, shaped by global styles and a youth spent traversing Sweden, London and New York City. She came of age in the radically creative world envisioned by her mother, visual artist and designer Moki Cherry, who with her family championed the power of music, art and community. Neneh Cherry continues to be an iconic figure whose raw, ever-perceptive style and incisive lyrics inspire female empowerment and self-expression through a forward-looking gaze, and radically prescient sound. Cherry is writing a memoir to be published by Penguin Books which she describes as ‘about punk, reggae, dub and hip hop… It’s about having children and being a mother and a daughter. It’s about balancing family, work and artistic life. It’s about race and struggle and overcoming hardship. It’s about feminism, and the joy of female friendships. It’s about love. It’s about marriage. It’s about music.’

Singer, songwriter, record label co-owner and model TYSON was born in London to a deeply musical family. Spending much of her upbringing on the road, she settled in Stockholm, Spain, and New York, before returning to London. TYSON’s accolades include being named Breakthrough Act of the Year 2022 at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards, collaborating with a multitude of talented artists including Joy Orbison and Ezra Collective, soundtracking Stella McCarney’s Autumn/Winter runway show in Paris, modelling for Bottega Veneta, joining Sudan Archives on tour and performing/speaking at a host of festivals worldwide.

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Moki and Don Cherry at home in Gamla Stan, Stockholm, 1967. Photo: Peder Björkegren, courtesy of Estate of Moki Cherry
A portrait of Hettie Judah. She has short hair and is wearing a black collared top.
Hettie Judah
Neneh and Moki, c. 1976, courtesy of Estate of Moki Cherry
Moki, Neneh and Don Cherry at home in Gamla Stan, Stockholm, 1967. Photo: Peder Björkegren, courtesy of Estate of Moki Cherry
A white person with long hair, wearing a striped red shirt, a black coat, and a yellow bangle around their arm
Linder Sterling. Photo: Gabby Laurent
Moki Cherry drawing on the blackboard in Tågarp, 1975, courtesy of Estate of Moki Cherry