It seems natural for me to choose etching as my medium for this work. Many of my ideas come out of the materials and processes of etching. I love the 19th century technology of it and the substantial, material quality. It can seem close to sculpture as you remove and transform metal and press it into paper. I love the heaviness of the metal and the blackness of the blacks. It is also dirty, poisonous, physically hard and repetitive. So it seems a very appropriate medium for work inspired by this industrial site.
I decided to use a steel plate to represent each pane of glass. I have been doing a series of drawings of broken glass windows on drypoint plastic and also using shards of glass to create prints on steel plates. These have all been done by tracing directly onto the plates at real size. I would like to do this with this window, treating it as a found object to make the work from, but the practical difficulties of reaching the top of this 7m high window mean that I will have to work from photographs. However I do want to make work real size, to maintain its presence, even though that means it will be difficult to display it in one piece.
I have been looking at the broken windows at the back of Chisenhale Artplace for several years and wanting to make an art work out of them. The building was an early 20th century factory and part of it is still derelict. the huge triple height windows consisting of 77 panes of glass have been broken by generations of kids chucking stones through them. This decay of a grand example of order and industry provokes a mixture of unease and fascination – a common reaction to derelict buildings as they remind us of the transience of our own apparently secure structures.
As an artist I am particularly interested in accident and its relationship with selection and design (or intent). One theme I have been exploring is the fracture of glass. Unbroken glass is pure, simple, transparent, clean, modern, useful. The accidental or intentional violence that breaks it, damages it irreversibly, destroying its smooth transparency and reminding us of the fragility of man-made things. Its sharpness is dangerous and its complexity unwelcome. Because of this, broken glass is often used as a metaphor for the irreversible fracture of a person or society.
But complexity and imperfection has its own beauty.
Each pane has been broken on a different occasion and in a different way. This contrasts with repetitive grid structure of the windows, producing something analogous to a scientific experiment, or perhaps just the record of a series of unfortunate events.
Chisenhale Artplace has given me the use of Studio 4 for a six week residency. It is a lovely big, light studio and I plan to make a series of etchings on steel plates in response to the broken windows in the derelict part of the building. I will be using these etchings to produce a large print installation in Studio 4 at the end of my residency.