I still seem to be playing catch up after the holiday; there’s a real sense that I’m clearing the decks in preparation for some hard work ahead. I feel in limbo with regards to 10 x 10 as there’s nothing much I can do now until the installation on September 18th. I’m grateful to Coastal Currents staff in the meantime who’ve been brilliant at getting some great publicity for 10 x 10 in the local press: http://www.hastingsobserver.co.uk/news/local-news/… I’m hoping it will help to bring in an audience for the exchange on September 22nd.
The importance of documenting my work is something I’ve learnt from others and I’ve got better at it, the more work I produce. It feels particularly important for events that involve audience participation – catching the moments, preserving snippets of conversation. Shelley Rae kindly captured a couple of ‘Going for Gold’ moments on film when she participated in the event. They’re seconds long but nevertheless sum up the energy and enthusiasm of some of those who took part. I’ll post Shelley’s films on here just as soon as I’ve worked out how. I was also able to document the evening with a series of photographs.
So, for the recent open studios, I invited people to celebrate the Olympics in their own way. Whether feeling curmudgeonly or filled with joy about the Games, moaning about the traffic queues or feeling overwhelmed by the wealth of athletic talent worldwide, I assumed that people (surely!) had something to celebrate – either for themselves or on behalf of someone else.
As the world’s top athletes continue to celebrate winning gold medals – the amazing David Weir just last night – I invited people to celebrate personal achievements in other fields, to reward themselves or someone they knew with a piece of gold from my ‘Going for Gold’ assemblage. Made up of golden objects, some in their original state but many of them sprayed gold, giving the most mundane objects a whole new lease of life, the objects were laid out to form the numbers 2012. As visitors to my studio gradually felt more comfortable and able to reward themselves with a golden object, so the original outline of 2012 started to disappear, echoing the impending end to the Olympic and Paralympic events.
It was a simple idea – one that grew out of consciously wanting to inject some fun into whatever work I presented for the open studios. Those of you following this blog will be aware of how a negative experience had impacted on me in the previous weeks. People’s positive response to ‘Going for Gold’ felt good, then – and retrospectively, was brilliant in helping me restore my faith in humanity.
It was interesting to see people’s response to being invited to take away something for nothing – a different experience from 10 x 10 where people are asked to leave something in place of whatever they take. Exchange adds another whole dimension – all the emotional implications associated with it come to the fore, raising the question around how much you actually want an object, what it’s worth to you and ultimately, what you’d be prepared to give up to secure it? Did the objects I offered for free, immediately diminish in value on account of costing the receiver nothing? Did it make the objects more difficult to accept?
There was a bit of hesitancy amongst some who said they didn’t feel right about just taking things and there were suggestions amongst others about leaving money in place of what they’d taken. Others entered into the spirit of rewarding either themselves or someone else who they felt deserved it by simply taking away a golden object. There were a few pieces left over but the numbers 2012, just as I hoped they would be, were indecipherable at the end of the evening on Saturday, August 11th. I rushed home afterwards, just in time to witness one of the most incredible live televised evenings of athletic history ever – to see two of the world’s top athletes Mo Farah and Usain Bolt achieve their considerably more challenging attempts at ‘Going for Gold.’