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.
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.
It’s pretty hard going doing a fine art degree. Going through a bit of hating the course/loving it at the same time over this last month. I have felt a bit lost lately on what I’ve been up to and where my work has been going. Been looking through my blog though and trying to not feel too stressed about it. I’ve actually done a lot this year, so I don’t need to put myself down. I have had my work in three public exhibitions, had my reviews published on Backlit’s website and began the amazing project with Future Artists Nottingham. So not bad at all Rach! Plus looking at the archives on here, the amount of work I did past March last year was amazing so just need to remember that and get cracking in the next few months! Here is my statement of intent which is to be set into motion as of now!! BACK TO THE HOME!
During the next module I want to establish a clear focus within my practice. To allow my practice to move forward in a much more manageable way I know I need to break down what it is that really drives me and what it is that I am passionate about. I intend to keep to this focus point. During the previous module I was sporadic, exploring various notions regarding the need for painting in contemporary art and the obsessive need for photography in the digital age we live in. I now know that this was too much to take on. I am still questioning these notions, especially the digital age, and the reduction of privacy technology has meant for us. However the underlying passion of my practice has always been the home.
Within my practice I intend to focus on the notion of the home, what it is to create a home, the nostalgia based there, the layering of lives that form there and the privacy and security that that space gives us. The layering of lives within a home is something that has become especially of interest to me whilst reading Julie Myerson’s book- home. She tells the stories of all the people who ever lived in the 130 year old house she lives in, in Clapham, London. It was of real interest to me to hear the repetition of lives, of celebrations and memorable moments that have all occurred in one house by numerous people and families. I want to explore various ways in which to respond to this- looking at Rachel Whiteread’s casts; especially, Untitled (Twenty-Four Switches), exploring the lives that have touched those walls, memories that have remained in those walls. I will use archives and microfiches in the library to explore the history of our homes. Also graduate from Trent: Adele Boden, is also someone of particular interest to me. She relates to previous ideas I have had about creating a piece using wallpaper layering the wallpaper to have the effect of the house itself. This is something I have attempted before but would like to do this much bigger and more authentic.
Reading a book currently by Witold Rybczynski, I am learning the history and the functions of the house and home. I am exploring the historical, social and cultural differences the home as under gone over time. This knowledge I am hoping will allow my practice to explore the functions of the home and discover how a house becomes a home. Wider reading of Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space and Species of spaces and other pieces: by George Perec will also be useful here.
In terms of making I want to continue to develop work that the audience can interact with. I believe this can be done using installation and setups of actual rooms; an artist I saw in Berlin who relates well to this is Gregory Schneider and also Martin Honert. I also want to get back into casting, perhaps looking at creating model homes based on the paintings of Amy Casey. I need to make/draw/sketch/paint much more in this module as a means to develop my practice and to further ideas more rapidly. The exhibition piece needs to be much more resolved and experimented with to reach its full potential.
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.
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.