The MUSCLE WIRE exhibition is evidence of a larger project which consisted of a month-long research-driven collaborative residency between myself, Emma Finn and fourteen dedicated young people. See more about the participants and the project under 'collaborative projects'.
In the same way that we approached the workshops as a call and answer between our own research and the interests and insights of the group, so did we curate the space as a tool to evidence our experience together; each piece constructed with the remnants of what came before.
It was important to us that we would work to honour the ideas of the group; the students were never assistants to us; in ways it was the reverse. We contributed to their ideas by filling gaps in production, by carrying out menial tasks.
Their ideas were the driving force—equal voices in a conversation that they did not begin but took hold of.
The space itself is calm, lit like a museum with a long history, which appears to be mapped out under foot— a network of converging but disparate marks marble the oor. There is a rhythmic series of hums and dings owing from the back of the space; the sound calls you in, but you do not go there rst. First, you spot the glowing rolls of ink drawings straight ahead. They seem to be both leading the way to the sound and blocking the entrance. As your eye darts to the left, just inside the door, you are struck by the partitions—large wooden structures on caster wheels breaking up the space. Between them a USB hangs, enshrined, above a shelf hosting mound of paper, on the spot-lit white wall.
What is on that USB? I don’t get it. Maybe it is the documentation of the whole project? Is it a gif? ...is it empty? Why?
Beyond the partitions fragments come into focus; a large layered collage, which recalls textbooks and timelines but from which all sense of chronology or narrative seems to have escaped. The images, which range from a photograph of Piaget to documentation of the apron-clad groups at work, appear to have all become part of one another and, in turn, part of the wall itself. Copper flows in and out of the composition, and stitches creep out of the images, threads escaping from the wall.
Turning away from the collage, another partition is visible at the edge of the wall; it transforms the 90 degree angle into something more organic but of questionable function. As your eye moves through the space, you come across a cabinet containing artefacts under glass — pink note cards, some rope, an old photograph of a chicken puzzle. A bell sits silently but authoritatively on top of the cabinet.
What is the colour of your first memory?
On the wall to the right of the cabinet, there are two posters. One, of a pyramid made up of actions: Discover, Rehearse, Experiment and so on leading in an order to the peak: Re ect, Share. The other a myriad of descriptions, Two patterns converging, A sequence of loud/quiet movements, among others. They seem to hold an experience within them; “something happened here”, they say.
We’ve all got archived movements without even thinking about them. Sometimes they change a bit, but they’re there.
As you turn to finally follow the sound through the back of the space, past the theatrically lit rolls of scribbles and sketches, you’re met by an opportunity for quiet contemplation. A selection of books, attached by a string begging to be leafed through. With pink comment cards to mark your place or jot down notes, it is a place to return to time and again. It begs repetition.
Just beyond, Drawing With Norman, plays on a loop. A stop- motion animation which provides the soundtrack for the space (Thank you, Norman McLaren) is mounted on the wall, bouncing its light around the space and making sense of the scrolls hanging as you enter the space.
Where are the rest of the drawings? Remember the installation from the first week? Where is that? Everything is here.
In emerging from the back of the space, you’ve come full circle and are once again met with the room that you rst entered. You see the partitions on casters, the shelf, paper and USB; you see the collage and the cabinet of curiosities. But it all looks slightly different from this new perspective.
When you learn the ending of a story, everything changes, even the way you remember the beginning. Sometimes you go looking for your first impressions. But, unlike shape-memory alloys, first impressions can be glitchy and hard to recall or recognise after they’ve been disfigured.
A Sea of Tiny Factlets
Without Words, What are Facts?
This exhibition combines pieces from several recent bodies of work, including the title series. Each project uses found imagery and histories from multiple sources, connecting the fragments to string together new associations.
My practice pays close attention to the way layers of memory settle to form new narratives, impacting our perceptions of reality. I aim to disrupt existing structures and hierarchies, tracing their relation to the construction and perpetuation of personal and cultural narratives and lore. Stripped mostly of their context, these fragments of history and technology continue to echo their stories alongside those we assign to them to affect our own sense of truth. Tapping into (and confusing) the collective memory, I alter my findings through careful actions of material intervention, gently persuading connections to be made.
The exhibition’s title, Without words, what are facts? makes reference to Susan Howe’s poetic docu-essay Sorting Facts, or Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker.
In an age of digital saturation, I choose to work primarily with found images and analogue photography materials. The works included in this exhibition (with the exception of With Every Remembering) are all unique images made without digital intervention. A combination of silver gelatin enlargements and cyanotypes, each photographic image was produced in the darkroom, from found negatives, and materially altered by hand. Much of this work was created on residency at The Banff Centre for the Arts, with the support of The Peter MacKendrick Endowment Fund for Visual Artists.
The Engram (Pot of Gold)
a physical alteration thought to occur in living neural tissue in response to stimuli, posited as an explanation for memory. Providing a physical basis for the persistence of memory; it is also referred to as a memory trace.
Pot of Gold (noun)
folklore: a mythological reward for finding the end of a rainbow.
branding: a Moirs Chocolate Company variety pack, which sat under most Christmas trees in Atlantic Canada while the chocolatier thrived in Halifax.
A rainbow relies on specific weather conditions, the right moment, a trick of the light and the perspective of the viewer. It is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. These conditions result in the form of a multicoloured arc. The rainbow is an optical effect which depends on the location of the viewer; it moves with the viewer's sightline. When walking toward the end of a rainbow, it will appear to "move" further away.
Despite our best efforts to pin them down, memories are shape-shifters and work themselves into similar fictions. Making something new with each remembering, the verity of the original event is the ‘pot of gold’ which can never be reached due to a shift in perspective.
The Engram (Pot Of Gold) was curated by William Forrestall for University of St. Thomas & The Beaverbrook Art Gallery. It was exhibited at The Yellow Box Gallery, on the St. Thomas University campus, Fredericton, Canada.
THANK YOU: William Forrestall, Nadia Khoury and St. Thomas University.
PHOTOS: Heather Tufts Photography.
Objects of Misunderstood Value
An object of misunderstood value is something which has been kept/collected/found. It has no clear value and perhaps no clear purpose; and yet, it is something one cannot bring oneself to throw away. Sometimes these are personal--photographs of past lovers, used concert tickets, clothing which has become too small. Other times these are curiosities collected from the street, flea markets or even online; perhaps the object is evidence of something more meaningful or perhaps it was purely superficial. In any case, like artefacts under museum glass, these misunderstood everyday objects find power through their amalgamation and their presentation.
This flash exhibition is the result of a workshop designed for The National Sketchbook Circle; it was a collaborative exhibition which lasted only one day.
DIANA & ELEANOR BURCH. FIONA GRADY. LINNEA HAVILAND. ANDREW JOHN MILNE.
Today more than ever, young people have an outlet for their voice, through public social media platforms, but are they being heard?
YOUTH UNCOVERED brings together a team of young people from three different South London secondary schools and invites them to take a chance and step outside of their comfort zones and commonly prescribed roles to curate a contemporary art exhibition. The YOUTH UNCOVERED team joined forces in 2015, placing an international call for submissions and making their selection from an outstanding number of proposals. Since then, they have been working unfailingly to shape the exhibition, both learning from and leading the professional artists in their research and understanding of what it means to be a young person today. The YOUTH UNCOVERED exhibition is the collective voice of the team.
When the YOUTH UNCOVERED team met for the first time in the gallery of a freezing multi-storey car park in Peckham, the task ahead of us seemed momentous. Although the team are diverse in background and upbringing, our experiences as young people shared similar trends - expectations in education, technology dependence and social pressures (to name a few).
We each had unified messages we wanted to share with a wider audience, but, for most, curating an exhibition was an entirely new experience. How would we keep the show personal, but also communicative our ideas to an audience? What was most important for us to address? By working with experienced artists we were able to work through the process, developing our thoughts and opinions into vocal installations and sparking debates across generations about the changing face of youth. The project gave us a playground to experiment, as well as a platform to discuss the extraordinary aspects of youth culture we disregard as everyday life. The result is a non-typical display of what it really means to be a young person today: our anxieties and fears, our hopes and dreams.
Youth Uncovered was conceived, designed and delivered, exclusively for Gerald Moore Gallery, by Amy Ash. Amy is multi-disciplinary artist whose practice incorporates curatorial projects, teaching and learning, installation, collage, illustration and other forms of making.
This exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Thank you.
PHOTOS: David Hughes & Amy Ash
Pot of Gold
I am regularly presented with offerings of abandoned mementos. On a recent trip home, I was gifted a vintage Moirs (a now defunct Halifax based chocolatier) box, full of mid-twentieth century negatives and news clippings, by a local second hand shop. The shopkeeper explained that the box was worthless and would otherwise be thrown away.
Not so. I challenge that the Moirs box and its contents, cradle the very marrow of the place. Images are reappearing, challenging the narratives we expect and the value that has been denied.
This body of work includes silver gelatin prints found negatives, cyanotypes, drawing, handmade paper, collage, installation and text. It was produced during the Truth Lies and Lore residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
Thank you to the Banff Centre and the Peter MacKendrick Endowment Fund for Visual Artists. Thank you also to Loyalist City Coin and Books in Saint John, New Brunswick for always saving unwanted relics for me.
Images from the Banff Centre for the Arts Open StudioDecemeber, 2015.
Orbits and Occults
Orbits and Occults; it won't be the end of things... is an independent curatorial project for which I was commissioned, as a guest curator, by Gerald Moore Gallery, South East London. The opening of the exhibition coincided with the total solar eclipse of March, 2015.
Orbits and Occults refers to the act carried out by the moon as it circles the earth, crossing occasionally between our planet and the sun to obscure the light we rely on -- refers to the centers of importance and influence around which we revolve our activity -- refers to the mysteries and mythologies we secretly rely on -- refers to time, recurrences and the weight of an act which is calculated and endlessly repeated -- refers to all that comes in and out of view and the ways in which we construct and pass on meaning.
Orbits and Occults brought together eight contemporary artists to explore the depth, power and reach of the ideology, metaphors and poetics of cosmologies within contemporary culture.