The ‘Skip Day’* at the end of July rewarded me with four doors in addition to the one I found in the abandoned in the cellar at the apartment block. These are going to feature in my new work. So far I have carried three over the bridge to the studio. I have started to wash them and realise that at least two must come from apartments where a very heavy smoker lived – it seems as though I am removing 60 years of nicotine. The doors are a completely different colour underneath.
It has been interesting for me to think about the significance of cleaning the doors. I want to use second-hand doors because they have history and yet at the next moment I am removing some of the patina of that very history. Working in a quite studio I find myself going over this. At the moment my thinking is that it is enough that I know that the doors are second-hand and are probably 60 years old (the same age as the building), and for this particular piece I am not interested in the dirt they have acquired during this time. (Though I am fascinated by the nicotine staining and the build up of greasiness around where the door handle was and the area where the door was pushed closed directly rather than by the handle.)
Washing is an important part of my working process with second-hand objects: I wash the shirts, the cake tins, the dinner plates and now I am washing the doors. I am more interested in permanent marks than in the impermanent and the ‘removable’. Washing is a good way to work out what is what!
Perhaps there is also something about the act of washing and cleansing; it seems to make the object more ready for transformation. It is a symbolic act of separating the object from its former context and preparing it for something new.
(* Twice a year the management team at the house order a skip for residents to throw out rubbish and oversized items that cannot go in to the normal rubbish chute.)