It’s so useful to have a positive exhibition deadline to work towards. It provides that crucial impetus which forces decisions that might otherwise rumble along for ages. Suddenly it is possible to visualise the work in position in the gallery and to make decisions accordingly. The work has to have a title – this is great too – it provides a focus, it narrows down the options and simplifies the thought processes. There is an end date; a moment when the work must be “finished” so there is no more time to go on and on “developing” ideas. It must be refined, defined, no more beating about the bush. that’s not to say it can’t be improved upon or developed for the future, but for now, for this moment, it is done. There is time to reflect, regroup, step back for a minute, and decide what should be the next step. It’s kind of a relief…
My new work, A Brief History of the Future, is a staging point in my long-running project, Once In A Universe. I submitted it as a proposal for the Sussex Open, as a development on a previous installation I made a year or so ago. The way I work involves making a lot of small experimental objects and drawings, collecting images and information as part of my research, and trying to create some sort of order from a complex accumulation of ideas, information and material. In the past probably 99% of this material never saw the light of day or got beyond the studio door, but recently I’ve discovered that it makes a lot of sense (to me at least) to show selections of this material as collections in a loose museological format. In addition to this new-found strategy, I’ve discovered that it really helps me to make sense of the research to have to present it to people as I did at ONCA recently.
So here is the result of these new strategies which help me make work: A Brief History of the Future, now showing at Towner, Eastbourne until September. Taking geology as a starting point from which to explore past, present and future, this work considers the interconnection between the basic elements from which all things on this planet and beyond are formed, and the multitude of new, man-made materials now present in our environment. It explores the growing ambiguity between man-made and natural.
It’s a great feeling to have reached this point, and now it’s time to make a plan and move on to the next deadline, which thankfully is not too near! Now there is time to explore and experiment some more, to try to increase the scale and allow new things to happen. And to enjoy the sense of completion at reaching the end of this phase.
Images above all from A Brief History of the Future. Media: concrete, vinyl, suet, wax, flint, iron sulphide nodules, polymer clay, spray paint, gold, sandpaper, silk clay, seeds, glass, plaster, paper, ink, letraset, 3D printed PLA plastic, aluminium, silicone, lichen.