Mother Tongue, Mother Master – Phoebe Collings-James

Mother Tongue, Mother Master

Phoebe Collings-James


Mother Tongue, Mother Master, Phoebe Collings-James, 2018, 2 min 28 sec

July 24th ~ 31th, 2021

Language, given, received, taken. stolen. assumed.

Light bondage. Joan Armatrading’s song I Like it When You Call Me Names. Shame, flagellating, regret. Always, also, fatigue. Jamaican Tongue, Cockney Tongue. My tongue.

Understanding self through freedom and sacrifice. Being covered, held barely.

Will it crack my teeth and do I care? Those edges. Pleasure, desire, chaos.

What happens when language blurrsss. It is all you have and it was never yours. How to


about liberation? The nets. recurring tensile material. Containment. A stocking,

hammock, a cage.

A thrill, ominous, putrid, sexy in an idea that something could shift motive in a split


Phoebe Collings-James’ work often eludes linear retellings of stories. Instead, her works function as “emotional detritus”: they speak of knowledges of feelings, the debris of violence, language and desire which are inherent to living and surviving within hostile environments. Recent works have been dealing with the object as subject, giving life and tension to ceramic forms. As young nettle, a musical alias, she loves sound that totally envelopes her and is part of B.O.S.S., a QTIBIPOC sound system based in South London.

Drawn to high octane sensual emotional sound, with heavy bass and wild lyrical flows, she creates sound design for original music productions. Including Sounds 4 Survival, an undulating live performance created with SERAFINE1369, which asks the question of what an anti-assimilationist practice can be. As the 2021 Freelands Ceramic Fellow she has an upcoming exhibition at Camden Arts Centre, London, in autumn 2021. Collings-James’s Mudbelly ceramics studio began as a personal practice and research outlet, but has since grown to encompass a shop and a teaching facility offering free ceramics courses for Black people in London, taught by Black ceramicists.