My practice this year has been concerned with time, place, memory and meaning. The focus has been on the materiality of the objects; the appropriateness of the material being central to its meaning. In preparation for Year 4 I applied for a place on the DIY project in London ‘Keep your luggage with you at all times’, led by the artist Geraldine Pilgrim. It was the catalyst for the processes I then followed. Having explored the use of suitcases and journeys, particularly holidays, my attention turned to an old suitcase inherited from my father containing a family archive of slide transparencies, mostly of holidays taken in the 70’s, towards which I felt both ambiguity and ambivalence. I was interested in exploring these tensions in my practice, and it has formed the basis for the final presentation of my work. Many of the slide transparencies showed the ravages of time and poor storage, radically altering the reading of the images. Others were of poor quality, out of focus and with little regard for composition or distance. In fact they were so bad they were wonderful material for an artist! I selected 20 to work with, all of lone figures which seemed to predominate in the archive and continued to fragment them even more. I felt that the materiality of these objects connected with the fragmented memories I held of my parents, both dead for several years now. I wanted to delve deeper and somehow extract their essence. At the same time to explore the tensions between the abstract and the concrete. I began by playing with mirrors and projection, using an old suitcase as a focal point, placing the projector within the suitcase and projecting the slides on to fragments of mirror which reflected back a fragment of the image. How to present this turned out to be a major problem and I felt so frustrated by the process that I shelved the idea. The next step I took was to digitalise the slides. These I then printed out on to acetate in various scales. I preceded to inflict minor violence to them in order to extract their secrets, cutting them up, replicating details, continuing to fragment the image, working with the materiality of each slide to render them empty of and separate from their histories. At the same time I have tried to link them to my own personal memories of a coat, a colour, a particular way of standing or sitting, my mother’s handbag…. Memories that show them as something of myself and as something that could be anybody’s, anywhere; that connects with a universal memory. As Susan Hiller so aptly said of her work ‘ which seemed to carry an aura of memory and to hint at the meaning of something’ (Hiller 2000, Afterword) By putting them through a series of processes that threatened to further damage or alter them physically I felt that I was trying to force their secret out of them, only to find that the memory stayed where it was and that I had constructed a new set of objects (in this case new slide transparencies) which in turn contain a fragment or memory of the originals that I supposed to hold memories of the past. I made the decision to present these slides as they would have originally been seen, on slide projectors rather than digital. The slides were spaced in order to emphasis the gap, between the object and me, the work and the viewer; spaces where meaning can be found.
The slides were shown in pairs - it was difficult to photograph the final projection but the images above are a few of my favorite pairs of images - I apologise for the fact they are a bit skew wiff! And of course they were much larger - each image about 3 ft width and very grainy!
Then ghost like and shadowy - unsure of direction!
All this from a few flaking bits of paint!
This last one is my favorite - I feel it will become a drawing!
And the project itself well let me try and explain. I have been working with a family archive of about 200 slide transparences (remember them?) passed on to me when my father died a few years ago - many are damaged and would suit Seth's disintegration project really well!! You can see what I mean in this slide below
At this point I must mention what a terrible photographer my father was, figures so far in the distance they are hard to make out or so close up only part of the person is in the picture, mostly out of focus too! They really are so bad they are quite wonderful!
Added to this is mold, fungal disintegration and bleeding of colours.So I have taken this a step further playing with these elements. The originals have been digitalised and reprinted on acetate and made into slide transparences again - these are going to be projected in pairs! I hope it works - here is one of the original slides that I have been playing with
that has now become 2 slides which will be projected side by side on an automatic slide projector. Why my mother is sitting, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, in a suit staring out to sea i have no idea - it was taken about 35 years ago, I would love to ask her but she has been dead for many years now. So my project is about memories and how even when we are not part of the event in a photograph it sparks our own memories, maybe of the place or the people, we might remember just a fragment of something that is contained in that photograph! I would love to know your thoughts about this!
I hope to have around 15 pairs of images and when they are finished I will post some of them on the blog - meantime wish me luck!
How the garden has grown since the winter pictures - my sheep skull peeping out from between the fennel! Let's see what it is protecting................
The residential insect life now needs to find a new residence!
From Lambeth I rambled along the river path - under the London Eye (another wish for my camera) past the Royal Festival Hall, the Hayward Gallery, South Bank and British Film Institute wishing I had more time, finally ending up at Tate Modern to see the Roni Horn exhibition. It was disappointing which was a surprise as I was looking forward to seeing it - I'm still trying to work out why I was disappointed. I just did not connect to the work - is that what it is about - connection? the work was beautifully presented and her process and subject matter is similiar to my own themes and processes. I should have been bowled over but I wasn't - I felt detached from it - as I said there was no connection. I would love to have your thoughts on this.