Pavement Meditations – the universe beneath our feet
Pavement Meditations is a project rooted in walking, daydreaming, drifting, street haunting and psychogeography. Most of this is done by walking and public transport and during these regular journeys to escape from the studio I began to notice discarded, unravelled, torn, flattened, ephemeral and crushed pieces of rubbish scattered on my walks. These abstract forms of rubbish on the pavement fascinated me so I began to obsessively document them photographically. With the environment so much on the political agenda I felt almost guilty finding these pieces of rubbish so magical and intriguing. I should be clearing them up. Each piece seemed to tell a story, or at least an imagined one, always with a trace of human life and behaviour attached. They were modern day artefacts of peoples lives. The coffee cup lid discarded by the commuter rushing off to catch the train and then trodden on by hundreds of other travellers. The sandwich packet remains of someones slow or fast lunch. These pieces of rubbish seemed to have a lifespan much like humans, plants and animals and the speed and length of that lifespan was determined by their materiality, chance and circumstances. A plastic wrapper could be tossed in the wind for days, weeks and months and travel great physical distances. A free newspaper was repeatedly trodden on and turned into a paper pulp by the rain showers then dried out again in the sun to take on a new solidified form where the words were no longer legible. A wet tissue could curl and dry into a form that resembled a cloud and a piece of knotted plastic could resemble a dancing figure. A whole universe/cosmos existed beneath my feet. The discarded objects are everyday and real and mostly banal, yet weathered by human contact and their environment they can twist and transform into beautiful abstract sculptures and forms. I decided to take this one step further by choosing several pieces to make artwork about and then project my own narratives in the form of short stories onto each discarded piece. This project is inspired by Brassai, Irving Penn, Virginia Woolf and all street walkers and daydreamers.
After initially starting out as a photography project ‘Pavement meditations’ has developed into a full body of work
Rented by the hour
Rented by the hour is an ongoing collaborative curatorial research programme always searching for the next appropriate architectural space.
The focus of the exhibitions and events is to exhibit in unusual buildings with complex histories that can be rented by the hour, away from traditional white wall gallery spaces.These exhibitions are site specific and the building itself works as an integral part of the artworks.We are aiming for the idea of an architectural “gesamkunstwerk”.
Several exhibitions over the years have been set in a very tired run down hotel in central London(Clearlake Hotel in South Kensington) that now is being repurposed by a developer. The hotel housed several separate apartments and had a chequered history having in the past been used as a brothel, a place to deal drugs from and generally a very low budget place to stay frequented by a very large variety of people.
The interiors were very shabby and dated. Walking through this labyrinth environment of the apartments what struck us as artists was how the building felt like a heaving, fragile, unstable and decaying body. The auratic feel of the individual apartments were heightened by the peeling wallpaper, tired and greasy kitchens, leaking taps and humming bathrooms. The building had its own noises and a weakening appearance, much like a human body breaking down as it ages over its lifespan. We imagined each apartment could almost represent a different part of the human body, for example the nervous system, the cerebral cortex etc, but the individual artworks evoked less literal responses to the building. We wanted to create an immersive experience where the art interventions dissected the interiors looking inward and then mirrored and reflected the architecture back at the viewer, creating new narratives and imagined stories. By treating the hotel as a decaying organism we had the freedom to create sensory, oral, abstract and psycho social environments to create a unique experience for the viewer. We wanted to raise questions of who slept in those beds, sat in each chair etc and make the artworks respond to some of the activities that may or may not have happened in such a transient space.
As Bernard Tschumi writes “buildings only truly come alive on the point of collapse.”
Curators: Olivia Hicks, Laura Clarke and Beatrice Haines
The body in the landscape
This series of works are based on a personal response to the unique landscape of the Troia Pennisula on the Sado estuary in Portugal with its salt marshes, sand dunes and distinctive vegetation defined by their extreme exposure to wind and marine salinity.
This landscape is a place where a sense of time is lost and the past, present and future merge together to create space for imaginative landscapes to enter human consciousness. The landscape is steeped in history from Roman ruins to The Carrasqueira pier built on wooden stilts that has exsisted for more than two centuries. This co exists alongside a modern Casino and fast moving luxury housing building projects,yachts, burgeoning hotel complexes and golf courses. However out of season it has an immense tranquility with only birds, wildlife, sea grasses, holly and the islands cats for company.
In moments of rare total isolation in such a landscape our private identities can be explored away from what we present in the rest of our everyday lives.Inhibitions and social anxiety naturally slip away.
In these works personal rituals, gestures and imprints are left on the landscape to explore various emotions. Anonymous figures appear from different time zones and the body can be viewed as both present, absent and partially obscured to represent connections with nature, the landscape and the islands history. The sense of exposure to tidal flooding, temperature variation and salinity bends and shapes the trees, bushes and vegetation in the wind to create architectural bodily shapes. This process has existed from ancient times to the present moment.
Hotel trauma is a developing body of work looking at the association between architecture and trauma. The work is based around memories associated with a high rise hotel where a traumatic event occurred where the human ideal for peace was shattered in an unexpected life changing incident. An act of destruction can lead to a rush to find closure to catastrophe but the process in reality is much slower. Architecture becomes a strong participant in the memories and also eventually in the trauma recovery. This work documents the ghosts and scars and walks through the memories, some distorted by time to serve as a memorial to those events and a specific moment in time.
The land of hope and inequality
Our changing sense of space and the built environment around us affects our everyday experiences of city life, from small towns to the megalopolis
Architectural structures can range from idiosyncratic unusual spaces to bland vernacular environments. Each space exists on a social, psychological, functional and aesthetic level.
This exhibition represents a collision of the dark and the light in our architectural surroundings. Buildings continually reflect our lives and how we live them. Our experiences can be both singular and collective in certain spaces.
Architecture can appear to be dystopian, oppressive, fearful and isolating. It can feel representative of inequality, segregation and control. Overpowering geometric Brutalist forms can be illustrative of this fact. However subjectivity and the singular do come in to play. To another individual these concrete palaces instill feelings of awe and wonder.
The opposite side of the spectrum is Utopian buildings. Spaces that embrace the future with vision and hope. They carry an underlying message of unity and council, the idea of working for the greater good. A sense that everyone is equal.
“ A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which humanity is always landing. And where humanity lands there it looks out, and seeing a better country sets sail. Progress is the realization of Utopias.” Oscar Wilde
In this exhibition art and architecture cross over to explore a movement of darkness into light.
Utopian and dystopian ideals represent our ever evolving architectural spaces and the way we are emotionally affected by them.