This is a collaborative, site-specific work by the Interstellars conceived and constructed during a residency under the auspices of 72 Hour Urban Action in Jena-Lobeda, Germany, May 2019.
The Interstellars are a collaborative group of artists, architects and engineers from France, Germany, Iran, Russia, UK/Ireland and USA: Alexandre Parena, Irina Lobovikova, Jason Smith, Jonas Korten, Judith Waring, Juliette Beer, Natalia Tinyaeva, Shahab Tahmasbi, Stefanie Lampe, Victoria Pogosyan and Wolfgang Winkler.
The Interstellars were tasked with creating an ‘alternative reality’ for a space which presented a number of challenges. The reality was ‘dead space’: an area bypassed by a diagonal flow of traffic both pedestrian and vehicular.
The space is further overshadowed by an iconic housing block of a particular time. It is fronted by the rear side (‘popo’) of a low-rise commercial block. The project also required a sensitivity to residents whose private and public lives interacted daily with the space.
Concept and Outcome
We wanted to engage with these existing issues. In particular we wanted to start a conversation with the architecture, environment and natural elements such as wind and sun. We theorised on ways of presenting an alternative reality by offering a different way of seeing the space. We also wanted to draw people into this area by raising visibility from the main road. The execution of the project referenced a number of existing features from a different perspective. The metal fencing starts to curve and lose its grid pattern; organic forms appear on the brick pavement; some trees and grasses start to grow in the space; and the balconies’ corrugated cladding appear in a different material, form and function. We wanted to offer people a space for ‘wellness’ – a space for meeting, a space for taking time out. We hope the look and design fulfill to some extent our aspirations for an alternative reality.
The Popo was created during the 72 Hour Urban Action festival in Jena-Lobeda, Germany in May 2019.
rabbit skin (ethically sourced), cherry stones, gold leaf, linen book-thread, drawing-pins, chalk, painted wood
40 x 40 x 10 cms
Compass is a 3-dimensional drawing in the form of a visual poem inspired by the literary and metaphorical travelogues of Odysseas Elytis. It 'functions' as a travel compass or 'rose of the winds'.
Εκεί εκεί να πάω σ' ένα νησί πετραδερό που ο ήλιος το λοξοπατάει σαν κάβουρας κι όλος τρεμάμενος ο πόντος ακούει κι αποκρίνεται.
ΜΑΡΙΑ ΝΕΦΕΛΗ (1978) ΠΑΤΜΟΣ
As with an Elytis poem, the drawing is tactile, visceral and 'of nature'. It exploits the materiality of the receding analogue process of writing poetry.
The work reflects on the arbitrary nature of the Æolian winds of fate - namely on Elytis's important relationship with the art publisher Tériade in Paris, his journeys of discovery through the extensive legacies of Greek history as well as the concept of poetic modernism.
Compass was shown at Monitor Fest in Heraklion, Crete in 2018.
Gunnera manicata leaves, linen book cord, plum stones and gold leaf
29 x 21 x 10 cms
The ideas for my 'végétal' artist's book are informed by research into mediaeval manuscripts, in particular the production and circulation of books in 11th- and 12th-century Byzantium. In exploring the materiality of 'végétal-ness' I experimented with using or manipulating plant-based materials and evolved the concept of the organic book.
The process of biodegradability is also important and the book will decompose but in a way that challenges Lucy Lippard's much-cited 'de-materialisation of the art object' (1973). My book is compostable rather than merely ceasing to exist. Within this concept there is also a challenge to the long anticipated 'death of the book' and a re-affirming of the book, especially the artist's book, as a valued cultural object.
I made a quire ('cahier') from each of the single leaves which have been cut up. There is clearly a recto and verso (top side and bottom side) of each folium. The leaves are not trimmed but retain their own shape which can be seen from the paper maquette. Each quire is sown with a figure of 8 binding process using 3 sewing stations. The large veins of the leaves provide the support for the sewing structure.
livre bio was shown at Atelier Vis-à-Vis in Marseille, France in 2017.
Wood, Icelandic dry wool, Majorelle blue
200 x 100 x 100 cm
The Anemometer was made for the RHS award-winning (2009) Walled Garden in the grounds of Bangor Castle, N. Ireland. I researched the Garden's history from its creation in the 1850s, through its decline and subsequent reconstruction in 2008. The basis of my anemometer is a Victorian model from 1846 which operated with 4 hemispherical cups. During the reconstruction of the Garden there were some issues with the prevalence of the plant Mare's Tail. I have used the idea of a Mare's Tail to modify the Victorian anemometer. The Anemometer is dynamic and spins around in the wind but it functions aesthetically rather than scientifically.
Anemometer (Mare's Tail) was shown at the ForM Sculpture Exhibition, N. Ireland in 2017.
Bodleian hand-made paper (1975), Aida cotton, linen thread, harvested fur (obtained from a natural shedding process), gold leaf residue
46 x 32 x 0.5 cm
The concept was to move beyond and engage with ideas of the 'production' of books and to a large extent codicological research informs the thinking behind the fabrication of this work. The materiality of harvested fur explores the animal-ness of parchment as a surface for text and the visceral, domestic-scale process of its making. The 'parchment' here is unadulterated, hair left in situ rather than depilated while the preserved residue of the skin surface is almost negligible.
The use of vintage paper along with woven cotton offer a visual coalescence with the skin. The tufts of fur mark the surface as a 'text'. This text is fixed by black and red thread after manuscript convention.
Folium turns the form of the manuscript book inside out; here it is both the object and subject of itself. Folium was shown at the New Museums Site, University of Cambridge in 2014.
analogue overhead projector, fabricated faux glass
300 x 300 x 200 cm projection
Tessera is a ‘window’, a mimesis of the refraction of natural light through the medium of glass. This ‘window’ creates a suffused light moderated by changing environmental conditions, those of day/night, sunny/overcast. The intensity of the imaged window is diffused with the disruption of viewers’ bodies, unintentionally or self-consciously, passing by and through. An on-going choreography of the light with shadows and the spectrum of opacity offer a perpetually changing window.
The work was shown in a deconsecrated church over 4 months. The faux glass degraded and the projection morphed from a 'stained glass window' falling to earth becoming an 'organic mould'. The projection occupies a space where a window had not and/or could not have existed previously. It can be seen as a type of fragmentary episode and a kind of oneiric overlay, a short, imagined footnote on various histories.
Tesserae was shown in Norwich, England in 2012.
45 gallon oil drum, site specific installation
My work on boundaries and borders was inspired by Christo and Jeanne-Claude's 'Iron Curtain' from 1961/2. I drove 5 x 45 gallon oil-drums in a small van from London to the Rue Visconti, Paris and on a quiet Sunday morning recreated a number of re-imagined versions of 'Iron Curtain'.
This body of work was shown in London in 2010.
linocut on linen
150 x 150 cm suspended banner
Vi Ses was made for an outdoor exhibition in Denmark. It needed to be ephemeral but also durable as it was on show for a month by the sea. The concept explored absence and the tension between presence and absence. I used the light-hearted iconography of x and o (kisses and hugs) to reflect on the deeper human emotion contained in the 'goodbye'.
Vi Ses was shown in Faaborg, Denmark in 2016.
wood, spools of linen thread, steel wire
150 x 10 x 5 cm
This work is made from 4 kilometers of linen thread wound on spools tensioned on steel wire and suspended across a wooden support. It was made after I swam the Hellespont in Turkey, crossing from the continent of Europe to that of Asia. The absent element of water might be seen as a potential catalyst to releasing the thread and its tension, dissolving Angst and the trepidation of deep, cold water and the body moving through it, from A to B. The work is poised on its own long thread, like that of the spinning Fates of antiquity. Fragility and strength combine in the materiality.
Four Kilometres was shown at 'Blow My Skirt Up', Chelsea Futurespace, London in 2008.