I was so nervous and excited on Saturday. Having set up all the work and felt it looked OK it was now down to the public to judge. My first conversation was with a lady who had taken one of my booklets. She seemed to be someone who had visited a lot of gallery spaces and also suggested I try the Ropewalk gallery in Hull for an exhibition, which I presumed meant she liked my work! She said she found it very evocative and detailed. It fit together well in the space and showed the pieces off well.
I had invited a number of participants and some of the craftspeople that had worked with me on the items, either telling stories or passing on information and they ALL turned up! I was so happy! It was quite the challenge to talk to everyone, but I managed to get to speak to everyone who had come to see the show. A number of the participants came and spoke to me. One participant said how evocative the object was and enjoyed reading the quote. She commented it was ectoplasmic and had a very spiritual experience. She felt very happy to have been part of the work. Another read the quotes and thought that one of the other participants quotes belonged to her. She was surprised at the overlap of people’s memories. She said she felt very posh waling round an art gallery and having a glass of wine and being part of it.
The craftspeople were really happy to see the work. They commented how beautiful it looked when the pieces were displayed in the setting. One of the craftsmen had his picture taken next to the work he had helped me with. He asked when I was coming back to learn more forging skills!
The two hours went so quickly, I had so many visitors including a friend who had travelled from London to surprise me. It was a very humbling and overwhelming experience to see so many of my friends from different parts of my life looking at my work. I think if I hadn’t have been ill it could have been more emotional as I was so pleased that people had come to see it. I think because I was a bit tired it all just happened and then afterwards at home I began to process it. I felt a bit sad I couldn’t have spent longer talking to people, but what it did show me was how many people I have met and made friends with over the space of the making part of the project. Over half the people who came, I didn’t know before this started…and I have already organised to see a lot of them again on a level of friendship that has been built due to their storytelling or crafts skills they have passed on.
This week has been hard and a learning curve, but then exciting and exhausting all in one!
I was going to write one long post about this all, but felt two would be more appropriate to explain a few things and my absence.
It was my first week back at work after a months hiatus because of illness. An illness that was unexpected and sudden and will affect me now forever, which has/is hard to come to term with as I always have been so active. Basically I felt like I was getting ill and then started turning yellow. I had a week of travelling everyday to and from the hospital as I got yellower and yellower and more tired and sickly. Finally on the Thursday my levels were so high they had to keep me in.
After scans and blood tests they found I had an inflamed liver, then that it wasn’t functioning and I had a biopsy. After probably close to 100 blood tests they resolved that I have an auto immune condition that attacks the livers bile ducts so they can’t function. It’s called Primary Bilary Cholongitis….! They are still very puzzled, as am I as to what has caused it.
So thank my lucky stars I am one of these over organised people and had already sorted out the vinyl and got it cut, ordered and had had the plastic display cases delivered and begun preparing the exhibition booklet and fliers. The very kind technicians at work cut my bases for the boxes and others came in to help with the installation.
The condition I have has left me with bad fatigue, which to a busy body is very frustrating! I hate not doing anything and not feeling like doing anything is even worse. I can’t even read anything by any means technical as it just doesn’t go in! I have had some great helpers this week, sorting the vinyl and helping me with the installation, painting boards, printing booklets and I am so happy to have had their help.
It was a lot more straight forward than I’d planned. I drew all the space up in Google Sketch Up before installation to check it would fit and how it would look, but when I was in the space it was just a matter of looking and changing until it FELT right. Again this has been a theme throughout my making process and for it to follow through to the curation was a fitting surprise.
The quotes were all spaced out and didn’t relate to their specific object, more free form for people to read and consider. The objects then stood in their own space to represent their story tellers and commanded their area, but worked well together as a group. I was so pleased with it but also surprised at how good it actually looked! I am so glad these pieces that are so familiar to me now get to be seen by so many other people who will hopefully engage with their own story that is triggered by someone else memory.
I have a bit of updating to do, so there will be a few retrospective posts in a little while, however just wanted to get it out there that my exhibtion at Dean Clough in Halifax is finally happening on the 21st of July! Private view between 12-2pm. Please come along if you would like to!
Thank you to everyone who has helped me get this together, esp Kathryn Brennand, for running me about, organising vinyl cutting and just generally being amazing at this! We’ve got a tough week ahead setting up, but looking forward to the end result and unveiling on saturday!
The last few days have been really interesting and exciting with lots of highs and lows. The trainers were the one object I have been scared of producing as they are something that was out of my comfort zone and used about £200 worth of silicone which again made me worry about getting it “right”.
The beginning of the process went well, prepping the shoes ready to be cast. I filled in the majority of the trainer where the foot would go to stop it collapsing in under the weight of the silicone and capped with plasticine as this still allows the silicone to go off rather than stay sticky.
Gluing the shoes to the base of the box so they wouldn’t float in the silicone, I then created the box around and glued it into place. This left the shiny surface for the silicone to stick to but give a clear outer finish. I thought I was going to cast the piece over a few days but having spoken to the technician, he recommended me pouring it all in one day. This worried me as I haven’t worked in such a large scale. I ended up doing 4 pours, 3kg, 4kg, 1.5kg and 2kg. This allowed me to judge how much I needed and not over cater as its expensive stuff! It felt so good to have done the whole pour on one day. The box needed clamping to stop it bowing out under the weight and it worked well.
The next morning I came in and the block had cured! It was so heavy, but by carefully splitting down the glue on the box I peeled off the outer frame to reveal the block. Turning the block over to see the soles of the shoes revealed how much had soaked underneath and showed where I should cut back the silicone to. It quickly became apparent that I would need to chop out the shoes piece by piece rather than being able to pull them out. This is because of the type of textile that the trainers are made from stuck in different places due to it porous nature and texture. Some sections such as the laces were completely embedded and unfortunately in removing the shoes some of the laces pulled out the silicone and ripped. This annoyed me as I like to get a perfect mould, but the more I thought about this, the struggle is synonymous with the relationship (this piece was based around a story of lost love, a boyfriend who ended up completely disappearing when then relationship finished and that the end was hard and a struggle. Also where the elements had ripped, it resembles how the end of the relationship felt and that a piece is now missing and the participant feels she has lost a friend as well as he disconnected from all her social media and life. He was ripped out of her life.
Also the opacity was not as clear as I’d hoped. Probably because there was so much silicone. Until I get them fully out and clean it up I won’t know, but hopefully it will be more clear when I get them totally out and can finish the object.
The shoes are still being stubborn and taking a while to get out. Hopefully I will feel better about the piece when they are well and truly out!
So annoyingly I am still having trouble trying to cast wool samples and get it to release. It’s frustrating as I have tried all sorts of release agents, other stuff like epoxy to harden it, it never seems to go right. I have to cast the toilet dolly at some point soon too and unless I find the right thing she’s going to be stuck in their forever!
I tried this as an experiment, because it felt the right thing to do. I had build the box base and sanded it down ready to make the lid, but it felt too wooden….So I decided, having some 4mm leather in stock (I think I bought this by accident a few years ago) that I would spontaniously, at 10pm at night try wet moulding. I had done this in my MA, albeit with thinner leather, but the way leather goes when it is wet is amazing. Veg tan as a natural leather goes floppy. It allows you to manipulate it round curves or moulds and sets in that position.
Using the base I soaked the right sized leather in warm water for about 10 minutes. I then patted off the majority of the moisture and positioned it over the top of the wooden box (wrapped in cling film). With my hands I moulded the leather around the curved edges of the box and smoothed it into place. Wrapping the whole thing in clingfilm and securing the edges down with masking tape and adding pressure using wood and tape I left it to dry for 48 hours.
Being a thicker piece of leather than I normally work with, I used my friends stitch markers to create the stitch holes as mine would be too close together. It punched out well and is now ready for stitching. The side pieces were cut in relation to the curve and stitches again were marked ready to be sewn. These are not all teh way through, but an awl was used to create a 45 degree angle on them to do a box stitch on the leather. I have ordered thicker linen thread so I am looking forward to stitching this as soon as it arrives!