I make sculptural and wall-based three-dimensional work that places discarded objects in new systems or contexts that play on their function through their form or materiality. I’m interested in the complexity and scale of the everyday infrastructure that surrounds us, and how our relationships to objects change when they stop being useful to us.
The objects I use are domestic, human in scale, and typically can no longer perform their original function. They are found by chance, typically in the street as I cycle or walk from place to place, and so have to be a portable size. They’re complex, factory-made, but externally relatively simple (a shower tube, a TV). They usually bear marks of a previous useful life, but are always from somewhere else, meaning I approach them with no knowledge of their past. A discarded object to me always has a sense of tragedy – a victim of the brutal calculus that says that if it can’t do its job it’s thrown away. I want to give it a second chance, to celebrate all that it can still do, even if this isn’t very much.
My work brings these objects back to life in new surroundings, relieved of the requirement to be useful, and instead operating for their own amusement. The techniques used to do this largely determined by the object under consideration: whether painting a facsimile of a packing board or making a fountain out of a coil of shower tubing. However, in all works there is an attention to craft and technique: planks slot together neatly; a light swings to the specific point on a TV screen where it has broken. Yet these interventions also bring with them the idea of the hand-made, the home brew – these are not things that might have been made by a machine.
Informed by surrealist thinking on the found object, Object-Oriented Ontology, Bill Brown’s Thing Theory, and Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter, the works call attention to the potency, capability and strangeness of objects that surround us, particularly when they are no longer of use to us. Their new arrangements carry with them a memory of what they used to do, but this action is transformed into a moment of beauty and poetry. The breakdown becomes a breakthrough, a suggestion of a different set of functions and interactions between the objects themselves. I’m intrigued by ideas of parallel worlds that might exist right next to ours, as in the TV series Stanger Things or Philp Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and particularly the points of intersection between the two worlds: gaps, portals or vents.
At the same time, the (human) viewer is invited in, and encouraged to participate in these structures. The “behind the scenes” of work is either visible, or constitutes the main part of the work. There’s no mystery as to how the works were made, or work - no backstage area where the illusion is prepared. And the hand of the artist is also clear – there are imperfections in construction, moments of “that’ll do”. Like Rauschenberg not wanting his materials to work for him, I’m aiming to work with my objects, to let them do or show what they want, rather than impose myself on them.