Thursday, 20 September 2012

We're on show!

We've reached our destination - the MA 2012 show! It hasn't quite sunk in yet and I feel very weird; elated and just a bit sad, of course.

But, finally, I feel as though I can show what I've been working on for the past few months, so here are some pictures.

A summary of my project. I wrote six short stories based around everyday objects.  I completed books for three of the stories, an animation for one, and for the final two I chose extracts, presenting them as part of the installation. 
I made a short set of instructions to guide people around the cabinet. 

Here's the cabinet, bought for £50 from a second-hand furniture shop in Brighton, and spray painted white by my lovely housemate Oli.

The top section of the cabinet displayed a short story about scissors. I bound the full story as a concertina, displayed in the middle shelf. The scissors hanging from the top came from my Dad (in exchange for a penny - you should always pay for sharp things). 

The trip switch for the sound

On the bottom shelf, I installed a trip switch, which plays an extract from the story when the cabinet door was opened. Again, my housemate Oli helped me to record the sound. Steve at Build Brighton lent me his skills in creating the circuit board and mechanism that allows the sound to play. He was brilliant, a very clever and helpful person, and I owe him many packets of biscuits.  

The first drawer displayed an animation for Floods (see August post)

Viewers could open the drawer, pull the plug and watch the film on a tiny ipod screen. It's very small, but I wanted it to feel like peering in at something, as if through a keyhole. 

Green Elastic, a story about a missing hair bobble, was in the middle drawer. This is the first story I wrote on the MA. The lights flash a sequence of white LEDs, stopping at random intervals on green for a few seconds. It's meant to convey the sense of waiting and hoping for something you thought you had caught a glimpse of, but can't be sure. 

The story was contained in a small hand-made concertina book and box.

I played with typography to reflect the qualities of the elastic hairband in the story. 

The bottom drawer held an extract from the short story A Hope Box. I wrote this as an entry for the Guardian newspaper's Futurescapes competition earlier this year. The story is, basically, about a mother reflecting on her declining relationship with her daughter; she gathers a box of unusual keepsakes for her, in an attempt to make a connection.

Again, I wanted it to feel like you were peering in, this time through a window. I probably rushed this bit of the cabinet, but actually I'm pleased with how it turned out.

My Mum proof read the story for me when I first wrote it, so I thought it would be interesting to ask her to describe what kind of imagery or colours it conjured for her. This influenced the finished artwork. I really like what she wrote (in an e-mail): 

'A grey satiny smooth surround
Little flashes of colour to represent the things you have talked about
Or the box
A window at the back  ( painted )  looking into the future with a very pale sunrise and rays around it – maybe faint figures floating in the rays'

Ceramic Hand, a story about an unwanted object, was on the top shelf of the bottom cupboard. 

For this story I produced a finished book; in total, I think it took about two months to make. I set and printed all of the type in the letterpress workshop at university (under the watchful eye of our helpful and patient technician, Sat Kalsi).The illustrations are linocuts, and all of the pages are handprinted on 160gsm redeem. I bound it (the type of bind is called butterfly binding) in the bookbinding workshop at the university (where Helen Gibb is the technician, and she is quite a legend).  I loved the whole process.

Skirt is the last story. It's about coveting something you can't have, and also about being an awkward teenager. The narrator falls in love with her best friend's skirt, and asks her Grandmother to make her one just like it, but ends up with something unwearable, frumpy and embarrassing. 

Like A Hope Box, this was an interpretation of an extract from the story. It begins with the narrator sitting in a park with a group of girls, anxiously waiting for her best friend to show up, 'pulling and twisting at clumps of grass with restless fingers'. 

I wanted this part of the installation to be tactile, as the story is quite sensory, often referring to textures and fabric, as a way of expressing the narrator's emotions. I also wanted viewers or readers to understand the girl's anxiety through her actions. These pictures aren't too clear, but the box is resting on a bed of grass (real grass that I grew in trays at home!). The ridged texture of the box is meant to evoke the feeling of corduroy (the fabric that the skirt in the story is made from). 

That's it! Or maybe I should say 'The End'. I want to find a way of getting this collection of stories out into the world in a format that's a bit more accessible. Although I'm pretty happy with this installation, I think I could have 'told' some of the stories a bit clearer, as the heart of this project was the written work. 

If you've stuck with this (very long) post to the end and have any thoughts or questions, feel free to leave a comment or get in touch. I'm also creating a mailing list, so sign up if you'd like to hear more about projects I'm working on. 

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