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Strings Attached

Updated: May 28, 2023

Recently I rearranged the old website and decided to try to declutter the whole thing so I removed a page I called 'Archive'. The intention being to add more but as you can see from my record of blog posting, I'm not very consistent in that department. I didn't want to completely remove those memories so I've decided to copy and paste them into a blog post (two birds and all that).

Strings Attached was the first installation I put together as a ceramics artist. It was in a space at Conway Mill known as the Drying Room in August 2017. The Drying Room is a fantastic space that was where the flax was brought to...well...dry.

Drying Room, Conway Mill 2017

I was introduced to this space by the manager of the Mill, Andy,who has always been a great support to the artists. (Now I had been renting a studio there for 6/7 years by then and this was a whole new part I'd not known existed -crazy!)

This introduction coincided with my renewed love of clay having avoided it since my ceramics degree in the mid 90's (another story).This space was crying out to be used and with my enthusiastic return to ceramics, I was happy to oblige

This piece was about manipulation of forces unseen and our allusions of freedom of choice.

Brexit was looming having been voted for the year before and I had become very aware of the manipulation of the traditional media and the insanely powerful social media world. In this atmosphere Strings Attached was formed.

Taking up the lower area of the space I created 7 ceramic puppetesque figures going about their business. The strings attached to them kept them upright, in the preferred position. That was a lot of throwing balls of string high into and over the rafters, being careful to keep hold of the end of the string so as not to accidentally throw the whole lot, (this happened), I got quite good at it, eventually. Saying that it also helped to have my mate and studio neighbour, Marie Louise Gormley there on occasion to assist.

In the four corners above the space, four large imposing faces look on, these came to represent those unseen manipulators (very serious I know). These images came from ink drawings I had done years before while on a student trip to Italy. We had a day trip from Florence to Siena and in Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena) they have these 172 plaster busts of popes dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. They were incredibly imposing and the way the light hit them their features seemed exaggerated and strikingly powerful. Time before mobile phones (I definitely sketched in public more then).

I had a large roll of cartridge paper so I could create 4 A0 charcoal versions of four of these faces. Loved doing that must do more!

'Strings Attached' was a fantastic experience, I need to do something like it again me thinks.

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