FAVOURITE WORST NIGHTMARE

 

 

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“Favourite worst nightmare” drawing with ink and enamel paint on paper, 1.5 x 1.3 m, with plaster cones below

 

 

 

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NONESMANNESLOND

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“Nonesmanneslond”: installation of silver leafed brambles at the Fleur de Lys, Faversham in August 2016. ACE funded commission for the “Legacy and Localism”project looking at the impact of World War 1 on Faversham.

The starting point for this work came from the correspondence of Private Ernest Cutcliffe held in the Fleur de Lys archives. He wrote two letters to his family whilst a prisoner and patient in a German hospital before his death in 1918. I was struck by the kindness that he received from the Germans and the oddness of being cared for in an unfamiliar enemy environment, removed from the fighting, in a physical state between life and death. This started me thinking of “no man’s land”, an indeterminate or undefined place or state: an actual and metaphorical space in World War 1, but a term dating back to the Middle Ages, “nonesmanneslond”. I also read about the explosions at the Cotton Powder Company, and imagine Uplees after the Great Explosion in 1916 as a desperate, fractured landscape similar to the Somme: the tangled brambles now growing over the abandoned site again recalling the barbed wire which separated the trenches from no man’s land.

My piece “Nonesmanneslond” is a temporary installation demarking a piece of space between the gallery floor and ceiling. It is constructed from bramble sections gilded with silver leaf to look like metal, in contrast to the metal camouflage tree observation posts made during World War 1 to look like foliage. The very act of applying silver leaf to thorny plant stems is preposterous, like many of the actions ordered during the war. The bramble tendrils are broken and tied together, and the bandage which has been snared on these has fragments of one of Private Cutcliffe’s letters on it, highlighting one personal tragedy amongst millions between 1914 and 1918.

 

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Initial ideas around injury and camouflage. Etched lino cuts with soldier motifs, the soldier image inspired by the photo of Private Sharp in the Fleur archives. There is a tear in the photo of him at exactly the point on his arm where he received a shrapnel wound.

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Start of camouflage painting experiments- large painting 1.5 x 1 metres

THE TWELVE WINDOWS

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This work is inspired by a Grimm Brothers fairytale, “The Sea Hare”. It goes something like this:

A princess refused to marry and went to live in a magic tower with twelve windows. She told any would-be suitor that if he wanted to marry her, he had to hide from her. If she found him, he would lose his life.

Many suitors died: what they didn’t know was that from her twelve windows the princess could see everything in the world. Finally a huntsman decided to have a go at hiding from the princess. As he searched for a spot in the forest around the tower, he took aim at a bird, which he thought he would eat for his lunch. The bird asked the huntsman to spare its life in exchange for helping him find a hiding place, to which the huntsman agreed. The bird concealed the huntsman in an egg in its nest.

The princess looked through nine of her windows but could not see the huntsman. Finally, in the tenth window, she saw him hiding in the birds nest. She was impressed at his effort and gave him one more opportunity to hide from her.

As the huntsman looked for a second place to hide from the princess, he passed a lake, and cast a line and caught a fish. The fish pleaded with him to spare its life in exchange for hiding the huntsman, to which he again agreed. The fish took the huntsman to the bottom of the lake and concealed him in the sand.

This time the princess looked through ten windows but could not see the huntsman. Finally, in the eleventh window she saw him at the bottom of the lake.Again, she was impressed, and gave him one final chance to hide from her.

The huntsman walked once more through the forest by the princess’ tower looking for a hiding place. He saw a fox and decided to shoot it: again, the fox pleaded for him to spare its life in exchange for help, to which the huntsman agreed. The fox transformed himself into a peddlar and changed the huntsman into a pretty sea hare: he took the huntsman/hare and knocked at the door of the princess’ tower. The princess was enchanted by the sea -hare and wanted to buy it: as she fetched her purse, the fox told the huntsman/hare to hide behind her neck when she looked out of the windows.

The princess took the sea hare and went to search for the huntsman through her windows. She looked through ten of them and could see no sign of him. She looked through the eleventh window and still could not see him. Finally, as the princess went to look through the twelfth window, the hare/huntsman scampered up her shoulder and hid behind the back of her neck. The princess looked through the window but could see no sign of the huntsman .

The sea hare jumped down and transformed back into the huntsman. He married the princess and perhaps they lived happily ever after….

I have made twelve windows with different views out,consisting of my paintings/prints. cut and collaged, and contained in card boxes.

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The twelfth window has a mirrored surface (with silver leaf )- so the viewer will see themselves in it, as well as the “princess”.

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CARDBOARD CANTERBURY

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“Cardboard Canterbury” is an installation in The Front Room of The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, running from October 31 2015 to January 31 2016. I have been working with adults and teenagers who are, or have been, homeless; and my collaborators have made prints and constructions reflecting their experiences, anxieties, and hopes for the future.

I covered the gallery walls in cardboard as a reminder that this is a throwaway material used by those rough sleeping on the streets; and the work has been added to over the exhibition duration so that it is constantly growing.The photos above show the first stage of the installation: see more exhibition photographs below, and go to http://www.cardboardcanterbury.wordpress.com for more information and images.

“Cardboard Canterbury” includes films from the award winning Homeless Film Festival (www.homelessfilmfestival.org), and we are very grateful to the directors Paula and Dean for allowing us to show such thought provoking and moving work.

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