Maurice’s Barn

In Grandad Maurice’s Barn today got crackin’ with an idea I’ve been thinking about for the exhibition! During my tutorial before Christmas I’d discussed the idea to make some form of keyhole whereby the viewer would peek through it and see into something. I haven’t decided what yet, a photo perhaps, a private image, lots of photographs maybe?

So yesterday I decided I needed a box where the keyhole would be on the outside to look into and inside there would need to be some form of lighting. Me and Grandad got building today; found a decent size box, (my ideal 30cm wide I planned yesterday,) and cut the small hole for the key hole. We screwed on the top, which can be screwed off to put in the photograph.

After much debate about the keyhole itself, no one believed that a keyhole was big enough to look through into the box. No one understood why I wanted people to have to bend down and squint to see inside. I want the viewer to feel like they are spying, being allowed to spy, seeing into the privacy of someone’s home, seeing their intimate moments.

Still lots more to do on the box. Paint the outside; gloss like a door, maybe red or my ideal door colour sort of a light green/turquoise colour. Decide the image inside, if it’s going to be one image, does it need a frame. What will the image be off? It needs to be a private moment or a home setting, a family just sat on the settee unaware of the camera, or an image of nudity perhaps. Then I need to think about the box’s setting in the studio. Put it on a plinth, maybe inside a plinth, the dream would be at the studio wall you could only see the keyhole and the box would sit behind it.


34 Lillieshall Road

Whilst In London I just couldn’t resist paying a visit to the HOME I’d been reading all about in the book I mentioned earlier by Julie Myerson. It seemed an odd thing to do, but I had to see it for myself. I got on the tube to Clapham Common like so many of the past residents of 34 Lillieshall Road would have before me. I Google mapped from the tube and I found it! I found Lillieshall Road! I was so happy to finally see it, the houses where smaller than I had imagined. I walked up the road; it had got to 5 o clock by this time so it had gotten dark, maybe unfortunately. I couldn’t see the house in its full light. As I got nearer to the house I walked down, following the numbers, 12- I’m on the right side of the road then. 32… It must be the next house! There it was, the lights were on, someone was home. Was it the writer? I had no idea but without hesitation I rang the doorbell. (Well I took it all in first, got a few photographs.) I didn’t question myself before I rang the bell though, I just did it. A little boy came running to the door and I could hear his mum say ask who it is first. I explained he didn’t know me. His mum came to the door, all a bit flustered. I was flustered too I apologised for just knocking on her door like this, but I was in London and I had read the book. She knew about the book but explained the writer no longer lived there. I have to say I was a little disappointed that the writer was no longer there. I would have loved to have met her, and I know she would have invited me in no questions asked. As it was, the women who lived there was pleasant enough but explained she was just making tea, well I think she said dinner, so didn’t feel like inviting me in. In a way I didn’t want to go in. I had got my glimpse of the place. I saw that the hallway wasn’t the bright pink that the writer had described in her time at the house. I saw the colourful stripy carpet going up the stairs and the lower level kitchen down at the end of the corridor, which looked modern and white. It was strange because after I rang the bell, I didn’t want to go in. It was this families HOME. Their private place.

The Contents of Mrs Rick’s Cupboard

Primary ColoursIt was curiosity that led me to the private viewing of Bobby Sayers; Primary Colours held at Primary Studios on Wednesday evening. A long day travelling meant that all I really wanted was to get back home and into bed, but as I got off the train, I decided to walk the uphill struggle of Derby road and onto Primary Studios. I’d visited the space before and was intrigued to see more of it. The former DouglasPrimary School newly reformed in 2011, provides studio spaces in classroom settings which are spacious with high ceilings; the spaces are shared or used individually.

In the shared space of Craig Fisher and Debra Swan Mrs Rick’s Cupboard is to be found. Bobby Sayer’s work was intriguingly being presented by the mysterious Mrs Rick and her Cupboard. I wondered what this meant in terms of the work. How could a cupboard be used in an art work? What was in the cupboard to see? I’d hoped for an explorative experience into the cupboards content and I wasn’t disappointed.

Mrs Rick’s Cupboard is an artist led project initiated by Craig Fisher whereby he invites “emerging and established contemporary artists to develop and present artwork in innovative exhibitions and events within an unconventional gallery setting.” The cupboard, situated in the left corner of the studio space, is an original fixture of the classroom, thought to have been used as a stationary cupboard. To give you a sense of size, I would compare it to a spacious changing room in a department store. Once inside the cupboard you are greeted with wooden walls and wooden shelving; a completely different platform than the typical white cube. What surrounded you was the work of Primary Colours, the shelves presented colourful sculptural shapes coated in thick plaster, and pinned to the walls where square images on white A4 paper capturing snippets of everyday objects.

I have often overlooked the work of Bobby Sayers. I have previously only seen his work housed in a white gallery setting, whereby on reflection it seems to get lost in its environment, just something to glance over. In Mrs Rick’s Cupboard it was a whole different story. The one on one experience meant I really explored the piece. You really had to go in and spend time with the work. Exploring its content and examining the shelves, reading the cupboard as a museum box and the shelving acting as its corridors.

The use of photography was a huge leap in Bobby’s work for me. The images provide what I felt was the missing link between the sculptural objects and the small drawings he inputs surrounding the sculptures. These cartoonlike drawings act as descriptive sketches for the work often involving arrows and text. These vinyl drawings are fast becoming the trade mark of Bobby Sayers. He derives them from his sketch books and inputs them onto the gallery walls or in this case the cupboard walls. These drawings reinforce Bobby’s interrogation of the “digital and the physical.” From the digital photographs Bobby picks out particular shapes/negative spaces, he then sketches this shape which transforms it into a physical 2D drawing. The physically is then extended to a greater extent when the drawings become 3D objects in their sculptural form. The objects do full circle. Changing from their original bodily form to a flat photographic image, then selected and drawn, then as sculptures they return to being something that has a physical attribute, something to touch and that occupies a space.

Talking to the artist himself he explained the photographs and his use of the widely available technology: Instagram. As the press release says “Sayer’s considers the relevance of these methods in relation to how we record and perceive the world around us.” Bobby invites the viewer to see beyond the everyday and unpick the puzzle to find the sculptural shapes within the photographs.  By using the smart phone app Instagram to modify these images he furthers the notion of seeing beauty in the everyday. The app is widely used to take photographs of the mundane and by using photographic filters they obtain a form of beauty.

For many who stepped into the space unravelling the puzzle became an important part of the work. Once the first piece of the puzzle was deciphered you then immediately wanted to work out the rest. Each image contained a clue which linked the sculptural shapes to the surrounding images. Sometimes the colours coincided with the sculptures which helped. The brainteaser almost felt like a task sheet for children whereby you draw a line between the two matching items on the sheet. Given the setting of the work this was an endearing quality of the piece.

In Mrs Rick’s cupboard, surrounded by the work of Primary Colours, you really do get lost in the everyday. I wonder if the real Mrs Rick teaching her class of youngsters ever took a minute in the cupboard to explore the everyday?

Moment of Clarity

Note from my journal when I had a moment earlier today:

Just having a think about my practice, how I’m feeling, I’m trying to think of ways to define it. Human activity? The spaces we inhabit? Trying to find links. Privacy is a key issue. I feel painting v photography was an important question to ask in my practice. I needed to ask it to further my making process. I don’t even feel like I fully resolved it but it felt right to ask it. The home is still very much at the forefront of of my thoughts. I am linking the role of Facebook into the privacy we no longer have, or have given away maybe. Layering of lives is very important to me which links to the vintage photographs and albums, they are ways of showing our existence. Facebook is a way of showing our existence. Records and archives do this too. Searching for people has always been possible it is just easier and more accessible now. 

Would also like to note the book i’m reading right now which is amazing, called Home by Julie Myerson. It tells the story of the all the people who ever lived in her 130 year old house in Clapham, London. All the personal stories which went on there and her voyage in finding them. Another great source is the BBC’s documentary Supersize World. What a program!  It makes you think about the 7 billion people that now live in the world and how we are all clustered together in such small areas.

World Wide Web

World Wide Web was a piece I showed for the show and listens last Thursday. The group interrogating the piece gave some good feedback. They questioned the vintage album style, they attempted to follow the narrative forming from the photos. I liked how the piece became interactive with the viewer, something I want my work to carry on doing, getting the audience involved in my work, making them explore. They questioned the relationship, me as the artist, had with person in the images. In fact I had no relationship, this woman is a complete stranger to me. (note to you all- but your images on private!) It was suggested I make a multitude of these albums or a multitude of images in one album bursting with images. This will reinforce the ideas forming about the amount of images we all put online. They suggested, which I had been considering beforehand, using text in the album to give even more details about the life of these people. This is something I need to experiment with. What was interesting that someone thought perhaps I had Googled my name, and this was another Rachel Fenwick, I hadn’t thought about this at all! This could be something I further in my practice. An artist suggested was Jenifer Mills, her piece What’s  in a Name? could be very interesting!

There was a lot of negative feedback about the choice of plinth which in all honesty I agreed with.  It was suggested perhaps a shelf or a more homely setting like a sofa could be used more effectively. The plinth made it too formal, almost like a sculptural object. In the future the staging needs to be considered a lot more.