Joy is connected to heightened emotional states like ecstasy, euphoria and pleasure. These feelings can pass quickly, often leaving us wanting more. Expressions of joy such as laughter can release tension and mitigate the effect of stress on the body.
New artworks by Harold Offeh, David Shrigley and Amalia Pica explore themes of resilience, humour and hope, and consider the power of shared joy to help us overcome difficulty. During the pandemic, and despite physical distancing, communities have found creative ways to experience intimacy and connection. Altruistic behaviour has been found to increase in times of adversity.
These commissions are shown alongside contemporary artworks and historic objects that consider the many different kinds of positive emotion, with their relationship to the body. Situated throughout the gallery are observations from poets, scientists, historians and activists reflecting on the impact of joy within our bodies, and how different generations have sought to reclaim and redefine it.