Category Archives: Collaborative Projects

Out of Thin Air

LongLily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In June 1890, at a seance in the North of England, a golden lily was summoned into existence by a medium going by the name of Elizabeth d’Espérance. The flower remained manifestly real for a whole week, then ‘dissolved and disappeared.’ I’ve been holding on to this snippet of information for a long time, captivated by the image of a golden lily – and its unnatural manifestation.

This piece, developed as a response to Diorama: Blackpool’s Hidden Theatres – seemed the right place for me to develop connections between the popularity of mediums and clairvoyants, and the many forms of spectacle or entertainment they put on show in Blackpool towards the end of the 19th century. The seance in particular always fascinated me. It is an inherently theatrical experience: the darkened room, the heavy, velvet drapes, the anticipation of the audience, the conjuring of apparitions out of thin air, and the multitude of voices inhabiting the body of the medium, who performed, as if on stage, even though they were actually situated in just an alcove or a cabinet, set apart from the normal crowd.

The medium, nearly always female, plays her role in what could be regarded as a liminal state – becoming a threshold, to speak the words of the dead for an audience of the living, and to make physical forms out of purely spectral messages. This act of manifestation mirrors that of photography, just as much as it mirrored and was associated with telegraphy, in the imagination of the Victorians: the latent image materialising in the darkroom, the message being received through the aether by a receiver – both seemingly magic acts. The medium’s body can also be likened to a camera, just as it’s been compared to a telegraphic receiver – capturing the uncapturable, and making visible things the eye couldn’t normally see.

My moving image piece offers a contemporary response to this long relationship between technology, spectacle and the nineteenth century medium. The work was presented as an installation – an image flickering on a piece of glass – viewed through a peep hole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Fielden Project

The Fielden Project with Adrian Davies, Alex Jako, Anna Taylor, Eleanor Mulhearn, Erik Knudson, Laura Davies, Richard Mulhearn & Sarah Eyre

5th – 18th May 2014
Unitarian Church, Todmorden, West Yorkshire

My practice is concerned with a fascination for the uncanny and the surreal in everyday objects, as well as an on-going exploration of gender, identity and place, so, naturally I was drawn to the grotesques on the outside of the church. The grotesque is an interesting concept, the word originated from grotto (as in cave), and is applied to decorative architectural features often mistaken for gargoyles. Grotesque, in short, means things that have a multiple form, often an ‘unnatural’ combination of human, creature and plant.

Mikhail Bakhtin describes the grotesque thus “A body in the act of becoming…never finished, never completed: it is continually built, created and builds and creates another body”. The grotesque can also be defined by forms that do not fit in to known categories, forms that multiply, or mutate. With this in mind I used the forms of the body – dismembered, re-assembled, and fused in combination with elements of Todmorden’s landscape and hand tools that are traditionally associated with gendered work within the town. The selection of ‘objects’ was informed by research into the textile trade – especially the mechanisation of the body during the industrial revolution. The choice of scissors makes a direct reference to gendered work but their form also suggests the human form.

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