Thoughts on taking my wardrobe to Margate…

I don’t have many thoughts just yet to be honest, still a bit weary from a long but lovely day by the sea. This feels like a useful place to chew things over and digest the possibilities, so thought I would put pen to paper and make a start…

Some images of a piece I’d like to revisit are opposite. It was something I did at the end of last year – about the same time of year the show will be in Margate. The work was a brief and transient piece – maybe it’s best left that way?


images from recent work in show, after the show comes down.

Having returned to the show after the hiatus of the opening I was less dissatisfied with the work, time and distance is so important and impossible to hurry. An interesting experiment, several technical things might have been preferred, to increase the exactness of size and colour, which would make it a more seemless image. The colour does seem to match well at the bottom of the image, it is the light which alters the tone so much and which the light in the space should line up with the image at certain times – thus the image would merge to a greater extent with its surroundings for parts of the day.

Looking back at original images taken of the wardrobe I prefer these as images to the ones posted here. However, for the show the work as an image was more successful than exhibiting the wardrobe as an object. This raises questions about the use of photographs and what the work is, the documentation of the work being less interesting than the documentation of the making of the work. The work (as a photographic image) itself also holds my attention as an image which could be placed elsewhere. Thus it is site specific but could have life beyond that site as well. Standing in the printers it offered a convincing image of an object, even though the background of the wall it leant against was a painted white wall, proving the image to be convincing as an object (ie a wardrobe as a physical presence not just as a photographic print!).


New work has gone up this week, turmoil of emotion suggests there is still much invested in my wardrobe. it reminds me of the distance I need for that content to settle to see things with fresh eyes. So I’ll include images here as a part of a new series of works and will return with thoughts another time.

The first is the image that was printed to the size of the space it was taken in (217cm x 112cm) and rehung on the same wall. A photo to document the actual work will have to wait until the end of the show when everyone else’s work has come down.

My response to seeing it has some context which is not necessarily relevant here but in reflecting on it now also generates thoughts of the possibility of secrets being exposed but held back at the same time. The size of the image is now life sized in the space and so is a tease of appearing to be a cupboard sitting there which could just be opened, themes of absence and presence, concealing/revealing, witholding and exposing, and of being out of place.

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I have been re reading Poetics of Space this afternoon and wanted to include some quotes from the chapter ‘drawers, chests and wardrobes’.

In particular I am intrested in thinking about the wardrobe as an image of intimacy “…as also with all the other hiding places in which human beings, great dreamers of locks, keep or hide their secrets.” (p74)

“Wardrobes with their shelves, desks with their drawers, and chests with their false bottoms are veritable organs of the secret psychological life. Indeed without these ‘objects’ and a few others in equally high favor, our intimate iife would lack a model of intimacy” (p78)

“But the real wardrobe is not an everyday piece of furniture. It is not opened every day, and so, like a heart that confides in no one, the key is not on the door.” (p79)

“…there will always be more things in a closed than in an open box. To verify images kills them and it is always more enriching to imagine than to experience.” (p88)

[Gaston Bachelard (1964) Poetics of space]

The psychology of secrecy is an area for further research, initial searches bringing unsatisfactory documents or ones where only part is visible (!).

I have found this image from previous work (2008-9). This was from the first series of works made with it, after its initial acquisition, over a year after my nan had died. The openess of the wardrobe bothers me initially, especially in considering the above quotes. I feel exposed. Nonetheless I have included it as example, less than ideal it shows the insides of the wardrobe – which is I think my own discomfort. What may not be clear is that the back of the wardrobe went into a ‘void’ – a black empty space that appeared to go on forever, abyss-like. (Again the photograph does not give a clear sense of the piece but I hope is good enough to demonstrate).

I remember having thoughts of death in relation to it, and it created a sense of fear of falling into it or of intrigue, depending on the viewer. The objects placed in the wardrobe are: a new pair of unworn child’s ballet shoes, a fabric covered coat hanger from which wooden rosary beads and a silver coloured plastic horseshoe (a wedding charm) hang. Notions of endings and loss are prevalent. I am interested in how much, or how little is needed to suggest narrative, to create space for the viewer to project and wonder – to add their own story.

…pondering this further I think the response of discomfort is partly the confrontation with the image from an earlier time. It is also more connected with a sense of self in relation to object I think as well. Previous images have explored relationship of objects with one another or of object with space. This image is of work that was focussed on the object alone and my response to it. Although I added other objects to it and have explored space (in the space beyond the wardrobe), this feels more of a representation or exploration of something more personal in relation to the wardrobe. I am reminded of an earlier comment which highlights Claude Cahun’s ‘Self Portrait in Cupboard’:



Positioning of object, related to placement, but for this example was a different strategy. Re-reading that sentence makes me more conscious that actually positioning of objects is more different than initially considered. This is about the placement of the wardrobe and it’s orientation in space rather than in relation to another object.Themes of expectations and ‘usual’ positions are played on, and what happens to an object if it is placed differently, whether it is ‘out of context’ or out of ‘function’. The point of the wardrobe being to house and protect clothes, it needs to be upright to do this so that they hang down from a rail. To move it’s orientation undermines this function.

I don’t recall unfortunately, how or why I came to move it in this way, I think it was just trying out possibilities with the given restrictions of the wardrobe in the space.

I found it interesting moving the wardrobe in this way, but once I laid it down on its back I couldn’t move it. It remained there coffin-like for several weeks.

Almost frozen by this connection I began to notice (and perhaps distract myself with) the space it was in much more and became involved in documenting the (by now quite confined space of the) alcove in great detai, leaving the wardrobe in relative peace for a while.