Visual art exhibitions and events with a platform for critical writing
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By: Lauren Sagar
The Chandelier of Lost Earrings, is a mass participation artwork, gathering together the earrings left after its pair is lost.
Now, there is a home for that lonely earring that is left in the drawer!
The sculpture will thread together the individual stories of all the gifted earrings. Without these contributions there can be no chandelier.
The project emerged from our long-term engagement with staff at St. Mary's Maternity Hospital, Manchester.
# 7 [11 December 2012]
At the Royal Exchange theatre, Manchester I saw the production Rats Tails by Carol Ann Duffy with my kids. Kids really enjoyed it. My Oldest asked why at the end when we'd been clapping the actors, did they go out and come back in again, while we were clapping (clearly I have been very remiss and not taken him to enough to the theatre!) I tried to explain the 'Encore' to him, got a little lost and will probably have to Google it myself, but basically I said it's a way of the audience (us) showing our appreciation to the actors for their performance and how much we liked, and wanted to see more. As I was focusing on this whilst talking to my son I realised in return we get back the beaming exhilaration of the actors having achieved taking us on thrilling story ride.
At this point we see the actors as themselves, just people. Naturally I started to compare this to the chandelier of lost earrings-which Lauren and myself have referred to as a 'thread of individual stories (stories behind the lost earring and its wearer) brought together in a glittering art work.
The stage we are at is how to bring all these earrings into one art work, coherently. As we guessed, this is the real creative bit of the job. Now we have all our 'paint/media, the earrings how do we put the mass story together.......in progress and slowly coming to fruition, fortunately I'm a great believer in process within creativity, so I am not unduly worried, kind of enjoying it in a brain aching sort of way.
But first they needed to be photographed, individually and in small related groups. They have become like real people, crazy, and we know them personally, hence the 'Cast of Thousands' on our publicity. It feels important for them to be recognized individually before they become as one in the art work. I am being to sound like a 'crazy earring women', but so immersed we've become in this art we've both dreamt of the earrings, and now counted them, all 2418 two thousand four hundred and eighteen of them. Collections of earring types have emerged...little scenes played out.
AND more sanely a documenting process, which we hadn't foreseen on this level, and have had the luck to bring in a colleague to help bring order to our artistic random systems.
Overall though an Encore of 'earrings' has come first before the main production!
# 6 [10 December 2012]
On a roll this morning......usually most of the stuff I write stays in rough hand written notes on odd bits of paper.
Have to share this Art work found on 1 Design Per Day web site
think I should move to Canada
It caught my colleagues attention, and mine, not just because it looks so lovely and beautiful, but its engaging, look at the peoples faces, enchanted.
To make art work that has this positive effect on people is the aim.
# 5 [10 December 2012]
Surreal workshops - or where a workshop should and shouldn’t be held, a lesson learnt.
In St Marys hospital the main women’s and maternity unit, and where the concept of the chandelier began, we were to hold a drop in session for staff over a three hour period around lunch time.
We set up in a teaching room, on the 2nd floor, maternity wards, with weird and wonderful hospital paraphernalia around us; a hospital bed, a plastic model birthing canal and lots and lots of glitzy jewels (that’s us).
We didn’t expect a fast crowd of hospital staff to rush in they are busy people......but the area was devoid of sound, people, crying babies or even footsteps........like we had entered a different time zone... finally one man walked past.....twice, probably thinking , ‘did I really just see a jewellery factory shop?” He didn’t come in.
So lesson learnt, we should have taken a tip from the TV show ‘Location, Location, Location’. Although the drop-in session was advertised, and we know the staff were interested, we had chatted to them about it at the collection events; we were not in a main thoroughfare or on the way to anywhere, as the expression goes ‘out of sight, out of mind! But fortunately we worked, made up lots of single earrings and had a laugh making up stories of where everyone had gone.
# 4 [2 November 2012]
Whitworth and Hospital Earring collection events
Two successful events for Lone Earrings finding a new home within the Chandelier.
Firstly, many bloggers write or excuse themselves for not keeping up to date, so ho hum it's been a while, other life moments have taken over/distracted me, and the blog has fallen off the end of the 'to do list'.
In thinking about these moments, I realise for me they are the glue of life that keeps me going and usually retrospectively funny.
One of my excuses/life moments;
After a Yo-yoing day, of backwards and forwards to the studio, as teenage son poorly and off school, I have timed to the minute the amount of time needed to cook a quick dinner (that means pizza), and walk my other child to his club, so I fitted in a quick chat with a friend down the road, with children the same age. Leaving on time, I had not anticipated the two youngest within the blink of an eye launching their school shoes onto the porch roof! Why? No time for irritation, or crossness, ladder found, (still in the bedroom, awaiting decoration) balanced on wobbly ground, doesn't reach arrgg.... fishing net stick (also not reached shed after summer holidays) just the tool for catching wayward shoes. Me, a slightly hassled mum gets back to dinner and schedule, and re-tells story later, laughing!
Lauren and I try to base art works on the familiar stuff that we and hopefully people can relate to. I realised it is this familiarity that draws people to the chandelier, earrings often hold memories, small moments of life, personal history, funny, sad that are shared familiar experiences, people keep telling us, what a fab idea, with a sort of quizzical surprised but smiley face, that seems to say this is an obvious thing to do with lonely earrings.
Two Events we arranged, so people could come donate earrings and chat to us.
The Whitworth Art Gallery Manchester
Two days, four hours, where we sat in the middle of a light airy gallery of Hockney paintings, with a screened slide show of the Summer Glass house and related images, while making earrings from donated beads and broken earrings. We invited people to join us, and interested gallery visitors sat and joined us, asked questions, discussed engagement in art, and made earrings. Also a School group showed interest, and we chatted to the pupils and teachers, possibly might visit their school. A very enjoyable couple of days, good coffee shop to!
St Marys Hospital, Main Atrium, next to the courtyard where the project all started.
Two days, four hours, large blue display board, hand painted banner, images, and lots and lots of already received earrings displayed. Lonely earrings coming in to be part of chandelier with their stories from staff. Thank you
The Dentistry Hospital sent us a bag of earrings (delivered by Stephen the porter, thank you Stephen), which included some lost property; bona fide lost earrings!
As Lauren has posted on the http://www.facebook.com/TheChandelierOfLostEarrings FB page "So....we've been to the Whitworth and St Mary's, and have again been surprised and heartened by peoples warmth towards the Chandelier project."
See FB and side for lovely pictures of donated earrings, photographs by Lauren
# 3 [22 October 2012]
Press releases and PR skills
Last few weeks have concentrated on this area.
A steep learning curve of necessary skills and lack of experience, none of it related directly to art, bit of a shocker......a key area of this project is the PR! We know what it is and have done it before in minor ways, but a big push was needed.
Radio, very local and regional, Press again local and regional and even TV local northwest news tonight, these were the aims and all these need personal contacts and the sending of Press Releases. The art of writing a Press release that is read! After much dithering about the etiquette of writing said Press release the decision that again Action over no Action, wins......JUST SEND IN SOMETHING!!
Lauren has Triumphed, Women's hour, and Invited!! We are awaiting this to happen.
We achieved Local press and an afternoon interview with Liz Kershaw and a live phone in appeal with Andy Crane on Drive time, both with the BBC Manchester, for before our Open Rogue Studio event.
It seemed like it was going to be an unsuccessful, non-appearance on Northwest tonight, we were bumped off at the last minute.....I even know the PR lingo now. But then without warning three days later, we appeared on Northwest tonight, in our studio talking about the earrings, for nearly 10 seconds, blink and its gone.
Result lots of lovely lone earrings for the chandelier.
# 2 [1 October 2012]
A successful Lonely Earrings Collection Day event at Victoria Baths Manchester Heritage Open day, Sunday 9th September and despite being in competition with the Paralympics closing ceremony and possible last sunny day of summer, stories, much interest and beautiful earrings themselves were gathered. We meet some interesting and interested people, a good reminder to ourselves how invaluable networking is, one person was a fellow Rogue Artists Studio Member who we'd never met before.
An unexpected aspect of awarded Arts Council England funding, is the positive effect on our identity as artists, validation, we should be doing this. It would seem (for us anyway in part) that it takes a well established high profile Arts organisation, and being paid money to have a substantial confirmation of our skills and experience.
Also to throw in some realism, can now pay bills and clothe the kids!
The above references some rather lean periods of paid art work. We have strove to remain artistically active in various ways, (sounds promiscuous) sometimes invited and in the case of this project's beginnings, uninvited, we continued to present our art to an audience, for our own sanity. And of course working leads to more work and even paid work. Action wins over inaction every time!
# 1 [11 September 2012]
I am the Campbell part of Sagar and Campbell.
I'm hoping the informal nature of blogging fits with my own nature, being dyslexic.
We (sagar and campbell) have worked together as public, community and glass artists for about 10 years. This project is the most exciting to date, as it seems to be the culmination of our previous learning processes, skills experience, and importantly the reasons why we work creatively.
Also it is a project that we created from scratch (and much hard but much fun unpaid work, i.e. blowing up about 30 3ft white spherical balloons) rather than through winning a commission.
And a delightful new phase as the project just won Arts Council England funding! Fitting that this blog about the Chandelier should start now from winning the award.
The project has a long and wonderous history on another blog,
http://thesummerhouseblog.blogspot.com, (do have a nose for pictures etc). It charts the beginning of our informal engagement with existing sculpture, the Glass Summer House, which we were commissioned to make in the new St Marys maternity Hospital Manchester, women's courtyard.
We decided to install mini 'pop up' exhibitions inside the Summer House. We were looked upon by staff and patients; a bit like being goldfish in a bowl! We chatted to people and found out that they were interested in what we doing, and we found out what they wanted from looking at the 'yard'. The chandelier was inspired by these conversations, and wanting to create something that they and others could participate in.
That all sounds simplistic, but its a 'in a nutshell' describiton, only the process took a longer time, over a year and the inspiration and ideas too.....like Grayson Perry described ideas 'as timid creatures, glimpsed in the corner of an eye - they had to be reassured before they would come close......' this one took a while to catch.
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