Sunday, December 9, 2007

Artist's Statement and an Unexpected Gift

Still life from the work table

Went to take down the exhibition today, and was met with a surprise. No not a sale -something more wonderful.

It seems two ladies had dropped in to see the exhibition and were very taken with my work. So taken in fact that they took my Artist's Statement home with them (there was only one copy- tacked to the wall!) and came back later in the afternoon with a gift- two tin photo frames. One is empty, it's a silver tone with lilies impressed around it and an oval inner. The second one is very tarnished brass with a stunning little greytone postcard of the Virgin Mary.

I was so awed! To me this is so much more lovely that someone buying my work. Anyone can just breeze in and falsh a bit of money for something, but to activley return to the gallery to leave a gift for the artist; that shows sdo much more, the sacrifice of personal belongings in gratitude for what they saw. Especially these worn old things- I see them as such precious things, to give up something as lovely as these is quite a feat in my eyes.

I really feel I have communicated what I wanted to, that at least these two women understood what I was working with. I saw a fragment of this when I set up the installation (photos coming this weekend!) -three people offered me their old wedding gowns. I thought they were just being excited, but just now I remember a woman came up to me on the opening night and told me how much she liked my work, that is was very much like what she would like to do. And the curator's mother was very interested as well. Maybe people do understand what I do, or maybe I can dare to think it's deeper than that. Maybe all these women have seen in my work what it is I want everyone to see. I never try to enforce what my mission is, but...it's the ultimate to know that people see it wihtout force.

For the precious few that are reading this, here's my Artist's Statement that the ladies' so took a shine to.

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What lies behind our interest with antique things? Are we simply attaching ourselves to what we romantically see as simpler age, or is it an inkling of a past life, perhaps; the recognition of an object in this life that was all too common in our last?

As children my brother and I conducted small journeys to unveil the layers of past that no one noticed. We located old rubbish dumps on the town map and dug up fragments of teacups, dolls heads and china animals. We visited abandoned farmhouses- places left to wither and die by those who sought the new and modern.

Some places held a capsule of the lives once lived within- a calendar pinned to the wall, a clock on the mantel, a tortoiseshell comb in the bathroom- all evidence of personal lives, people who existed and conducted personal intimate behaviour in the broken-down house I stood in.

To me the abandoned house became a forgotten slip of time that was never quite sewn to the present; a fragile, unwanted thing, a secret history unrecorded. The unwanted houses eventually became the property of nature and her beasts, and time drew it back to the earth.

In my work I hope to explore the consuming interest I have in both the forgotten houses and the objects within. Using the treasures I have collected over the years I assemble them in groups and layers, or sealed in glass-fronted boxes. To enhance the sense of the forgotten, I combined them with elements of nature that to me echo the lost sense of time- a dried weed, a left nest, an empty seedpod.

My pieces have arisen not from any solid idea, but from a place that lays so deep in my subconscious that not even I know what it means. Perhaps I will never understand why certain objects go together or why I adore the lost and the forgotten; but after many years of the struggle to understand my own work I have simply accepted that what I do is something I may never hope to pin a meaning to beyond the emotions drawn from me by these ghosts of history.

What is it about a shredded dress that has been sleeping in an attic trunk that literally makes my heart skip a beat? Why do i gasp at the stains of age on a living room wall? The feeling is almost unexplainable- something brief flashes through my mind about crooked, falling down houses, secret pathways to places long forgotten, ghosts of happy people lost forever in the larger realm of time. Why do I love these things? Will I ever know?

4 comments:

Amanda said...

I haven't been visiting your blog for long, but I do enjoy trawling through your posts. I haven't seen your work "live", but I can see one reason why the ladies wanted you artist statement. It's a beautiful piece of writing, and unlike so many, it doesn't resort to "jargon" or to "giving it all away". You manage to inform the reader but leave us with a sense of mystery. Lovely!

Emily said...

That artist statement is really beautiful, and I strongly relate both to your aesthetic and your articulated reasons for the appeal of antique and fragmentary objects. I'm glad that people at your exhibition seem to be relating as well!

ColibriDreams said...

I just accidentaly came to your blog as I saw you in Etsy Forums... I liked your artist's statement a lot. I have always loved empty and abandoned houses too. When I was a kid, I used to go to this big concert house after a writing course in the night. They always left it open, but there was almost no one there - just a few guards who left you alone when they noticed you aren't gone break anything. I loved to walk there, in the huge hallways, touch the modern sculptures and see the lights that were much dimmer than in a concert nights. I loved the place also when we went to a concert or to see a play, but the best was definitively to go alone, when there was no one.

By the way, I really hope you can put your shop in Etsy, I would like to see your work there!

Robyn said...

Your statement is a work of art in itself. I am so happy to have discovered your blog. Everything about it is lovely.