This week’s meetings with Hermione Allsopp (my partner in the Pistols and Pollinators project) took us to St Leonards, Eastbourne and London. We were able to visit each other in our private workspaces – Hermione’s studio and my UCL office – and also to explore one of the areas of artists’ practice in which we are both interested – the organisation of individual objects to form an artwork – as in Hermione’s piece ‘Field of Dreams‘, on show at the Towner in Eastbourne as part of the East Sussex Open 2013 (website banner above).
Accident & Emergence have been tweeting #artistswhousetext as part of #PandP and this is great in highlighting one aspect of the synergies between poets and artists. I’d suggest that work like ‘Field’ is at the nexus of poetry and art in a different way, as it works on the subliminal and subjective meanings of things – what they mean to the artist; what they mean in conjunction with each other; what they mean to each of us who view them. One of the signs that a poem is working well is that it communicates the emotion / ideas of the poet but invites the reader / audience in to tell their own stories. Arrangements like ‘Field’ perform in the same way, and to that extent are poetic – arguably material poems as well as art.
I’m interested in such arrangements as an extension of the cabinets of curiosity phenomenon. There’s a fantastic history of such arrangements, and one of the many half-written articles on my MacBook presents these as a form of extended mind – the concept that the mind is not entirely internal, but exists in the interaction between the human brain and the external world. We see this in the operation of marginalia and, I will argue one day soon in an academic journal, also in the physical arrangement of possessions in cabinets and, in the case of artists working in this area, in their artworks.
Such arrangements are one element of Hermione’s practice, as described publicly in her artist’s statement:
I make sculptural work by collecting objects and furniture and re-creating them into new forms or compositions. My use of discarded domestic objects reflects on the interior, the past and memory. Through the choice of objects, and the techniques I employ, I intend to explore the boundary between repulsion and attraction and ideas of taste. As sculpture, these re-done, or un-done-up objects begin to exist as something else and raise questions about the value and material nature of every day objects through display. It is also my intention to reflect on wider topics related to consumerism, psychological and physical interiors and notions of desire.
One of the ways in which Hermione and I are working together is looking at the arrangement of objects, and we have been fortunate enough to have a proposal accepted for the Institute of Making‘s workshop on Friday:
Material Connections and the Extended MindOver tea come and share some of the objects that have caught your attention with artist Hermione Allsopp and Lecturer in Information Studies Anne Welsh. Grab a maximum of 5 objects from the shelves and share your story about why you are drawn to them and how you would like to arrange and rearrange them together.
Members of the Institute are drawn from all over UCL and we are really excited to see what some of them make from the objects in the Materials Library. Our meeting with the Institute this week was wonderful, sharing with us stories behind their collections of tuning forks and spoons; the reasons why a cube of material gives more points of comparison than a traditional swatch; and the way in which a lead bell can be made to ring when frozen. We’re looking forward to hearing stories from workshop participants on Friday.
Image: East Sussex Open banner from Towner website, with Hermione Allsopp’s ‘Field of Dreams’ in foreground right.