The installation on day 2 meant rethinking it all. The linear orientation needed to be broken up, but I did not want to lose the sense of progression, from flat chipboard origins to a more complete ‘unit’. I decided to include the ‘frame’, which acts as the full stop and the final view. This new layout offers more dynamic views and shows the individual pieces reacting to each other more. There is a linear route through the piece, this time a diagonal that tacks back towards the door and allows viewers to stand among the pieces – to try to fit them together?
With more space the ‘Scrolls’ piece can have more space to breathe….it allows viewers to approach unhindered.
The scrolls look well on their double chipboard background – utilising a spare a printed cloud board to work as a frame, this gives more presence to the piece and links them together better than was achieved in the last installation.
Finally the third piece: Lacking, Needing, Wanting Taking, uses the pillar to create a branch effect, allowing the four box units to be seen as one alone and in contrast to others at 90 degree angles as part of a group, but ultimately all four can never be seen all at once.
The work arrives quite literally as a ‘Flat pack’, fitting snuggly in a family estate.
Work begins finding a place – chipboard working just about ok with the parquet….
The final section – ‘Kallax’ of the main series needed to be assembled for the first time – The instructions were missing – so guess work and a download needed.
The plan to install as a line works ok, it definitely feels like a formal display room from a leading brand of flatpack furniture. As sculpture it looks crowded and over formal. It also puts pressure on neighbouring spaces and creates a very linear movement in the gallery, this could lead to viewers walking past and ignoring – definitely need to review this with fresh eyes in the morning.
Pick up time from Langley Furniture. Geoff has done an excellent job on assembling the bathroom cabinet. Its doors have the right cabinet fixings and it balances the perfection of precision with roughness of the material.
There are other shapes with printed images to pick up, Geoff has cut them to size. The printing from Chromazone is sound, possibly a bit dark – in hindsight we maybe needed more test runs. However the grain in the photo and the ‘grain’ in the chipboard work really well together and the best balanced images that have clear inherent contrast work produce a very good ‘material photograph’.
Bcak at the studio, there are still some decisions to be made and making to do. The mini box on the first square needs to be built. The two panels that will be used for the ‘scrolls’ need to be unified with a baseboard. I had an extra 800 mm base square cut which looks well for proportion, but how much grey cloud form should be there?
The work for the final exhibition is coming together well, but requires input to monitor and interpret drawings and models.
The printed sheets of chipboard have been completed by Chromazone and picked up by Geoff Jackson of Langley Furniture. Geoff will slice the printed chipboard and assemble the bathroom cabinet. First there needs to be a plan.
The grey tones of the chipboard print look excellent, but what will they look like under the harsh light of the top floor of Northumbria Gallery North….
Another visit to IKEA. As I looked for the ‘lack’ units I was going to use I followed the maze of paths, highly directional, always leading you on to a new interior fantasy, and found myself lost. I was struck by how aspirational landscape photography was being used to give the surreal spaces a homely reality. The images above show a hanging drape or screen – much like the ones I made for the last crit – depicting a log stack with irregular tree rings and on the right, a black and white with misty scenes printed on canvas, and on the table is more photography. Ikea is using a folk memory of an ideal view of landscape to reinforce its desired perception of an ideal home interior, or cool workspace. Visual references to the abstract landscapes humanise the coldness of the flatpack interiors.
The simplicity of the design of pieces, using the square as the defining unit of space – this easy use of units creates a lazy abstraction, shorn of detail, maker’s hand or personalisation. Underneath it all? Chipboard.
William Pym – artist statement – first draft
‘The Photograph is an extended, loaded evidence – as if it caricatured not the figure of what it represents (quite the converse) but its very existence.’
Roland Barthes (1915-1980) writing in Camera Lucida (Barthes, R. 1980)
Do Photographs really capture memory, place and a point of time?
A sheet of chipboard or shiny laminate leaves its birth factory, becoming kitchen, bathroom or storage cupboard, does it too carry an image history in its fibrous soul?
Circle the landmark factory, catch from the corner of your eye the ever changing, always present, FACT of this community of work. See woody STEM changed to billowing STEAM, the cycle of breaking, recycling and consuming, reflected in reassembled shiny white flatpack storage.
Photographs, images, memories, held for a time in fragile materials or digital storage, are fading out of existence like the distant views of a curling vapour trail, continuously twisting in the air.
After review by a literate non artist:
(who rightly pointed out the incomprehensibility of the above – ‘Is this written for a viewer or your Tutors?’ – good question – I have always been irritated by incomprehensibility in galleries, so I must try to say it more clearly)
William Pym – artist statement – second draft
I have circled a landmark chipboard factory, catching from the corner of my eye the ever changing, always present clouds emerging from its dominant flue.
The industrial process changes woody stems into billowing steam and chipboard flooring. The sheets leave their birth factory becoming kitchen, bathroom or storage cupboard. This cycle of breaking, recycling and consuming, is the history that our reassembled and shiny white flatpack furniture carries in its fibrous soul. All of our photographs are fading, only held for a time in fragile materials or on digital media scrolls.
‘(the photograph)…is still mortal: like a living organism, it is born on the level of the sprouting silver grains, it flourishes a moment then ages……Attacked by light, by humidity, it fades, weakens, vanishes…..’
Roland Barthes (1915-1980) in Camera Lucida (Barthes, R. 1980)
The process of reviewing all the photoshoots of the chipboard factory has been fascinating. With more time to reflect, I discovered some gems from the original film shoots back in November. These were shot on 35mm film so contained some well composed captures in landscape format. This is useful as the Kallax piece, in fact all the pieces using Ikea furniture items, need images that are not square. In this example, I have deliberately edited quite underexposed from the digital scan of the film negative. The reduced highlights bring out the textures of the riverbank and the grey cloak of a sky. The reflected light on the three factory structures shine out.
All images used can now be from film – it is consistent.
There are great risks in getting others to make to formal designs. I successfully made the drawer component of the exhibition but I need a greater accuracy in the cupboard feature. Therefore I need to work with a skilled collaborator: Geoff Jackson of Langley furniture Works. http://langleyfurnitureworks.co.uk. There is a degree of absurdity in sitting down and talking about the ugliness of chipboard with Geoff who is a maker of fine furniture, adding insult to injury by asking him to make something from this weak and fibrous material.
However, Geoff is a consumate maker and enjoys the creative challenge as this fine picture from his website testifies – a ‘Noddy Car’ for an exhibition at the Centre for the Children’s book. Geoff is intrigued by the idea and talks of other hidden northumberland factories which make strange or even threatening products – hiding in plain sight.
I need the chipboard printed so collaboration with Chromazone is also needed. I have made samples and now need them to print larger sheets to work with. I am also working with Robin Watson signs to make the vinyls that will go over the Ikea furniture. This has become a process of project management – designing – testing – costing and then allowing this work to be made by others. A change from my previous practice which focussed on what had been made by hand – primarily by my hand.
The hand of the ‘maker’ will be concealed in the final piece, even though the work will be partially about the process of making from materials…..
Above is the trial photo scroll as a 3d object. The following is a ‘still’ from the edited scrolls I have been making. Improvements inspired by feedback include – a decisions to drop the hand written font and work with a simple typeface and font – like a traditional typewriter or a ticker tape. I have also included some words that reflect ancient property rights or structures, a demesne is the are of land close to the manor on a medieval lord’s estate. All the photography is now shot on film.