The Living Quality of Light, Time and Form

Date From
Date To
Admission fees
Mary Martins

Opening 22 Apr 18:00-21:00. 

TACO! is open Thurs-Sun 12:00-18:00 during exhibitions. Free entry. 

Address: TACO! 30 Poplar Place, SE28 8BA

The Living Quality of Light, Time and Form is a new animated film and the first solo gallery presentation in the UK by British artist animator and film maker- Mary Martins.

Martins works with animation and moving image to push the parameters of traditional animation practice to find new forms of representation. Martins’ interest in animation stems from the physical and material potential of the medium, a potential which she sees as integral to how she engages with the world and her own lived experience.

In making her work, Martins often applies an ethnographic lens to autobiographical subjects as a vehicle for exploring specific places, cultural practices and alternative realities. Previous animated works have explored growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, or the views of family members on death and heaven.  

Martins takes an experimental approach to film and animation, overlaying animated sequences over analogue film footage she has shot using a 16mm camera. Her use of abstract and gestural mark making mimics analogue animation techniques from the 1950’s and results in playful and expressive collages of moving images and abstract forms that encourage fluid readings of her films and their meanings.  

The Living Quality of Light, Time and Form is a 3 part ethnographic animated film shot on B&W 16mm and double exposed.  Projected full screen in a dark grey gallery for striking visual affect the film presents a  studied portrait of a capoeira dancer performing carefully choreographed moves set to music with spoken word, in other sequences he plays a berimbau, a traditional single stringed instrument. This central subject of the dancer is juxtaposed with abstract animated elements and film sequences that focus on the play of light and shadow.   Whilst the film is both an animated study of a dancer and of a specific form of cultural expression, it is also a poetic ode to the spiritual dimension of capoeira, its origins and traditions.

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form and martial art that combines dance, music and acrobatics, using hands, feet and legs in expressive kicks, rocking steps, and flowing movements. It was developed by African slaves brought to Brazil in the 16th century and is said to have incorporated dance and music in order to hide its fighting technique from the colonial gaze. The martial art form was declared illegal in the 19th century but was gradually reintroduced in the 1920’s.  Though the form has since gained worldwide recognition and uptake as a practice in multiple countries it is still strongly connected to its roots as an expressive form of cultural resistance and spiritual resilience that developed out of the context of the colonial slave trade.  

The Living Quality of Light, Time and Form was made collaboratively with the practitioners from the Grupo Muzenza, a long running community focused Capoeira group based in the London borough of Greenwich. The central figure of the dancer is performed by Luiz Sousa, founder of Grupo Muzenza.  The film was commissioned by TACO!


Mary Martins is an artist film maker and animator living and working in London. She makes animated film and has screened her work nationally and Internationally. She studied philosophy at University of Birmingham, Animation and Moving image at University of East London, and documentary Animation at the Royal College of Art. Mary won the Mother Art Prize in 2016 shown at 198 Gallery, London, and in 2018 she was commissioned by the BFI and the BBC as part of the Animation 2018 programme, screened on BBC4 as part of a celebration of the best of British animation.