I painted this as a gift for close family friends moving into their first home. I liked it at the time, but I was even more pleased that the couple seemed to like it! It has become really important in the next steps of me getting back into painting. I’d not painted so small before, the only reason I did this time was because I’d originally set out for this to be a card. It opened up the idea of painting small but painting more.
(And that I should start doing house painting commissions!)
Seen as it’s house and home related I thought I would share my pretty amazing fancy dress costume; even I was impressed with it! I love the film Up! So when I saw those kids dressed up as hot air balloons I thought YES that’s it! I’m going to go as the house from Up. I set to work on the house as you can see above and worried all night where on earth I would get some helium balloons from at such short notice, but I managed it! I also just remembered that this is actually my 2nd blog post about Up!- https://rachelfenwick.co.uk/2011/11/23/up/ I’m always thinking about the home!
I think it is about the right time to mention some photographs which I’ve had in my possession for a while now. The work I’m coming back to is directly related to work I began at the end of 2nd year, this work has a lot of relevance to a sorry occasion for my boyfriend; Louis Bradley. At the start of this year his wonderful Granddad; Stephen Bradley, passed away. Louis was kind enough to take some photographs of his Granddad’s house during the emptying process of his possessions. I didn’t ask for these photographs, so it was interesting to see what Louis chose to take photos of. I really enjoy those few left over items still remaining. There are more images but these are the ones I’ve selected that really identify the emptiness the home now portrays. The work I’m starting now comments on this house, but it also comments on all houses when they lay empty; void of human presence. I’m interested in the movement of one home to the next. The gap in between when the house stands empty. It’s interesting to me to think about the choices we make in the possessions we chose to take with us and the ones we leave behind. By covering found objects in a thick layer of magnolia paint I’m removing the remnants of a time gone by. I want to use Louis’ images to create a piece. Possibly frame one or two of my favourite images. The piece will be titled as is the name of this Blog post- The Home of Stephen Bradley.
Finally getting round to the long forgotten blog posts I’ve been meaning to do all summer. I’ve had the exhibition guide from The Whitworth’s Michael Landy’s show in my laptop bag the whole time, so I feel it’s only right to write about it. I had a few hours spare in Manchester all those many months ago so decided to take a trip to The Whitworth Art Gallery. I always enjoy a trip to The Whitworth. I always come away inspired. It’s a great space to exhibit work, wide open spaces, and I always seem to go alone, so it becomes a real adventure for me. The last time I went I saw Mary Kelly’s Multi Story House– a piece of work that has always stuck with me. I can remember walking into the house itself, the house full of light and full of text. It was a very personal experience. It’s probably a big reason why I continue to enjoy works with an interactive experience for the viewer.
Michael Landy’s; Semi Detached is the piece that really stuck with me from this particular visit to The Whitworth. Though only a photograph of what was the original installation at Tate Britain back in 2004, the photograph still left me in awe as it showed “the installation of a monumental and meticulously rendered sculptural replica of the front and rear facades of his parents’ Essex home.” Michael Landy had made the exact replica of his family home! Every nook and cranny accounted for. Each crack in the paint work noted. The detail was incredible. The photograph shown at The Whitworth shows Landy’s parents stood in front of the installation. The piece has been re-named Semi Detached- John and Ethel Landy. I wonder how different the piece has become with them stood in front. Before, the house could have belonged to anyone; with the occupants stood outside we learn a great deal more about the house. They stand proud outside their home, owning the property. It becomes a lot more personal.
What also intrigues me about this piece is what is going on inside? Landy has created the; “replica of the front and rear facades of his parents’ Essex home” but what’s inside? I guess absolutely nothing. Just the fact that I’m pondering this makes me want to create this interactive experience. I want to peer into those windows, through the net curtains. Or walk down the sides of the house and see the empty shell beneath.
I’m going to have to jump ahead a few blog posts because I can’t wait to write about last night’s adventures up on the hills of Ullswater. Me and few friends decided to take a trek up a fell just behind the village of Glenriding in the late hours of last night. Walking up there in the darkness, but for the little light coming from the torch on my iPhone, was needless to say pretty scary! On the way back down, as promised by the friend who’d done the walk before, was an abandoned cottage named Close Cottage. It literally looked like we’d just walked into our very own horror film and we hadn’t even gone inside yet! The house was perfectly creepy. A small symmetrical house, the door in the middle, four windows either side and one above. In the darkness, I was certain that from behind those curtains someone was going to peer their little ghostly eyes from behind them. We were fulfilling all the stupid character roles you see in films, you know when you shout at the screen asking why on earth would they go inside there?! But it was so intriguing! Especially to me, my inner art was ready to go inside and explore the abandonment.
Entering through the front door with a little force we all bustled in scarily awaiting the fate of the house. I was so excited though! It was amazing; looked like I’d just walked into a Rachel Whiteread piece, especially with the fireplace. It was just so eerie! We walked around screaming and jumping at any new sight. We even managed to muster up the courage to go upstairs. The windows looked so creepy and it felt as though something or someone was going to touch me at any point!
It was a crazy experience! Really got me thinking whilst I was in there though; Why was I so scared? Someone had once lived there; people had had memories, memorable moments there surely? Without people, without furniture, without light it became an empty shell- a really creepy one at that! A big pile of post was scattered at the door, I rummaged around to try and find a name, a previous occupant. I found a name of Geoff Taylor, Mr and Mrs Taylor. Where had they gone though? Why had they left? How long has the house been empty? Whilst trespassing in the house, it felt scary; it didn’t possess any qualities of home. It just provided a shell of shelter.
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.
It’s finished!! All my hard work has paid off! If your wondering what it’s all about, please read 2 posts below for the meaning behind it all. Sorry for all the photos, I got excited, you can really see my process of making though. All I need to do now is print and position the title on it. Any feedback is welcome, leave me a comment if you like.