So the next step was; using paint and varnish remover, de-stain the telephone table! Covering the object with the varnish remover I then left it for 30 minutes. I came back to see a remarkable melting state of the varnish! It had such a great effect! Although I loved that process and that remnant of the varnish, I wanted to see that true underneath, strip it right back! So I began scouring away at the wet varnish- I only managed to do the top on Thursday but need to get it all bare next week! I began to worry about what the end result would be? How will it look? Why have I removed all that human presence? Am I not interested in the traces they leave behind? I really like this as an experiment and reminded myself of the earlier magnolia piece I made last year- removing the past resident with a thick layer of magnolia paint. Like that piece and like when one moves from a home, I’m using this object as a metaphor for the stripping back of a home when that new resident comes in. I began thinking more and more about this whilst in the studio and I feel my next step after the table might be to try and create a similar set up like last year. Create the piece- take photos, they cover again in magnolia. BUT have the image of BEFORE next to space. Still unsure of what I’m saying with all this but that’s the next mission.
I bought my first piece of furniture to play with today! I really like those marks already there, the remnants of human touch. When I saw this piece of furniture I was reminded of something I wrote down from one of Rachel Whiteread’s books, this object was once in someone’s home; “a silent witness to our most private and vulnerable moments.” Although just a telephone table, it probably had a few frames on there, personal possessions perhaps? And it was a silent witness to all those personal phonecalls. Important calls of grief or celebration or just those quick chats with a friend. It’s interesting now that it’s just cast to one side.
So who says watching breaking bad can’t be research? Love the screen shots I took of the scene of the newly married couple, expecting child, looking around their potential new home. I loved the emptiness ready for potential. Knowing all I know that has gone on in that house too. A whole life. Their whole life under that roof. Also just a few photos of my studio space, feeling at home there. Really like the table I have this year. I also have a lot of wall space which I really need to make use of. And just a couple of notes from old note books- a bit of previous knowledge/encouragement. The other images are photographs I took having a wander round town to get some inspiration. I went into the Heart Foundation furniture and electrical store. There were a lot of potential cheap furniture items that I could use for making which I photographed. I really liked that old wardrobe I could see it all stripped back and sanded down to its bare state. And I also sneaked into the back room while no one was looking to get these photographs, which I find kind of sad, all those unwanted items, those slumped up mattresses with no home. I really like these images, they express what I’m trying to say about those unwanted items, the possessions we leave behind.
During a show and listen a piece is exhibited in a exhibition environment and unlike in a public exhibition where I would generally get next to no feedback, here I am allowed to take a step back from the discussion and listen intently to what my course mates think about the piece; receiving an in depth critic of the work. It is so useful when moving forward with a piece and allows you to see what others think about the work without them having any prior knowledge of what your practice is about.
For this show and listen I wanted to show a more resolved piece and as I said in my previous blog post I wanted to re-work the piece I had exhibited in The Classroom Gallery- My 34 Lillieshall Road. Having already set up the piece before this gave me a chance to re-work the piece with more confidence. In the show and listen I changed the setup to a contemporary home setting. Someone remarked that it was “like a scene from IKEA.” I enjoy the modern reference made here to the furnishings chosen. During the classroom show the furnishings had been a mix of eras which I think suited that space however the contemporary feel here established the correct era I had had my experience with house. One of the tutors posed the most intriguing question for me as she wondered; Why not more? Why not wallpaper etc? This was something I myself had questioned in the setup; whether or not it needed more. She reflected that my choice of furnishings was just enough to help trigger the imagination but not too much so that the viewer’s imagination was controlled. The home setup triggered the imagination but the text itself was where the audience created their story.
One main point that was mentioned during the show and listen that I really kicked myself for not thinking of was tuning the light off in the room and only displaying the work at lamp light! The piece could have been more intimate to the viewer this way! It could have created a cosy atmosphere and even played on the idea that when I visited the house it was dark outside. In the photos you can see that I have experimented with this afterwards. Whether or not this then becomes a little too creepy is another thing.
Something which was a huge concern for the audience was their torment in whether this was fact or fiction. This was something I hadn’t even considered. To me the piece was obviously completely real. I had been to the house; this was my experience there. There was no doubt in my mind. They however kept coming back to the question “Do you think she actually went to the house?” This was something I thought of as a negative, as though I hadn’t quite convinced them, however perhaps this just adds to the mystery, adds to the notion of the private v public. Why would someone want to know so much about one house? In terms of proceeding with the work, people suggested visiting other peoples homes, my experience there, other writers, artists etc. One person commented saying the work could benefit by the work being more personal to me; so visiting homes of my past. To me though there is no interest in either of the two. No one would care about my history in a house more than a history of a famous person’s house. This piece to me was more concerned with the layering of lives in a house, any house; this just being the example of one. This finalized the piece for me. I don’t want to carry on creating similar versions. I want to carry on making work that carries with it the sense of a past of a layering of lives in a home.
28th February- 14th March 2013
The Classroom Gallery is an up and coming art space in Nottingham. A newly established gallery on the 1st floor of Hopkinson. There was an open submission for a response to the exhibition title No Place Like Home. When I saw the exhibition title, I thought- perfect! This exhibition is right up my street! – excuse the pun. My current practice revolves around the home; I ask what it is that makes a house a home? I explore the layering of lives within a home, the lives that have touched those walls and the repetition of memorable moments that have taken place there. I found it hard to chose a piece to select for this exhibition however my newest work My Lilleshall Road lent itself well to the notions of home, in particular the layering of lives within one house.
The piece is something I have blogged about before here; https://rachelfenwick.wordpress.com/2012/12/16/34-lillieshall-road/
My Lillieshall Road is a response to a book I read by Julie Myerson, who herself is from Nottingham; the text of the work explains the book briefly- She tells the stories of all the people who ever lived in the 130 year old house she lives in, in Clapham, London, She re-tells the personal stories which went on there and her voyage to find them. The piece is my experience and my impact on the house, my very short history I now have there. The frames I have used are widely used in most modern homes which emphasizes the time I have had my experience with house and also plays with the notions of home, the use of home furnishings which we use to frame our memories.
When it came to installing the piece into the space it became something more than just the idea in my head. I had been wanting to display this work in an exhibition environment for a while. I wanted to create a home atmosphere/setup around it, I had thought about adding a lamp to highlight the text, as well as play with idea of the home. It was very easy to add extras to the piece surrounded by the vintage furnishings at Hopkinson. I used a vintage corner table to hold the frame of the text, brought a touch lamp from home, then to contrast with the modern lamp, I used a 70’s style lamp shade for it. I had intended the entire piece to reflect the era in which my short history of the house had occurred, however playing around with these furnishings I began to like that the furnishings reflected an array of eras that the house had undergone; a sort of mish mash of fashionable furnishings. I also felt that because the idea had developed from it’s original contemporary plans to a much more quirky intention, that the piece could benefit from including the book itself. Invite the viewer to look at the book, flick through the pages, look at the photographs and see my underlining of notes.
The next move for this piece is to exhibit at Uni in a Show and Listen this Thursday. I am going to see how displaying the piece using modern furnishings affects the audiences perception of the piece.