Monday, 20 August 2012

same old thing

cotton and wool, 1995/6 (top) and 
dailymade May 2012 (above)

I’ve taken on reorganising the studio and office this summer, at last! This is some undertaking after years spent hoarding and accumulating stuff. As anything is potential material for work, I have the perfect excuse to keep hold of all sorts of stuff, and crisis point was reached during two recent visits at the studio when the work I produced could hardly be viewed amongst stacks of materials, equipment and tools. So, drastic action had to be taken!

pecan nuts, beads and wire, 2006 (top) and 
dailymade July 2012 (above)

Going through old boxes I was struck how some of the work made almost two decades ago echoed some of my recent dailymades. Some of them have actually found their way on recent posts on the blog.  This made my think of the words of the late genial performer and choreographer Nigel Charnock in an interview with Sonia Baraga.  Artists he said always tinker at the same piece in order to get to that ‘thing’, whatever it is, and ultimately fail to do so.  This doesn’t matter in the end, as the process of getting there is what counts and the ultimate goal takes second place.  Wise words, and Nigel, you will be very sadly missed.

the making of Garland #10 (top), 2006 and prop workshop
for One giant Leap (above), 2012

toothpicks and wire, 1996 (top) and 
dailymade August 2012 (above)

dailymade April 2012 (top) and 
dailymade August 2012 (above)

Friday, 3 August 2012

art for health: remembering and forgetting

Teddy Boys, D.A. haircuts and Camberwell Beauties

‘Memory is a perpetually actual phenomenon, a bond tying us to the eternal present; history a representation of the past’ – Pierre Nora

These last few weeks I have been collecting memories from patients suffering from aphasia with three other artists for Little Boxes of Memories, a project run by Entelechy Arts in partnership with the Museum of London and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Lewisham Hospital Arts Committee.  These memories will provide material for the creation of multi sensory boxes to be used as resources in schools, props in a performance as well as potential exhibits in a future exhibition.

My focus throughout the project was to collect these memories through making. Symptoms of aphasia being commonly movement as well as speech impairment, I was prepared for a challenge.  I brought in objects and materials to each of the sessions and used these as introduction, 'meeting points', that prompted engagement and exchange.  Over the course of the few weeks more objects and materials were brought in by the patients and furnish their bedside spaces and were shared amongst themselves.  This gave the patients a sense of agency and choice and created a sense of community much needed at a time of loss, fracture and trauma.

ball inspired by T.'s tales of football and cricket
3-way plait inspired by D's recollections of making 
across three generations in her family
Many rich and evocative stories were communicated to us over the course of the few weeks and we are now working on how to represent these in the boxes. This process had started early for me as I responded to the stories by producing objects with the patients, which in turn prompted more conversations and revelations and created a connection between us. Reading studies on memory, I recognised how the fear of forgetting can trigger memory and how the reverse is also true.  Pierre Nora argues in Les Lieux de Mémoire how memory stands in opposition to history rather than being complimentary to it.  He writes 'memory, insofar as it is affective and magical, only accommodates those facts that suit it; it nourishes recollections that may be out of focus or telescopic, global or detached, particular or symbolic'. How accurate the patients' memories were didn't matter so much in the end because it is in the recounting of these itself that the past was reconciled with the present, and the possibility created for future imaginings.

‘Memory takes root in the concrete, in spaces, gestures, images, objects; history binds itself strictly to temporal continuities, to progressions and to relations between things.  Memory is absolute, while history can only conceive the relative.' – Pierre Nora

tales of London recounted by patients about to be released
(London AZ pages)