Sunday, 18 October 2015

Abridged at the Royal College of Music London 2015-2016

This was not what I had planned for my second covert artist residency.

However, sometimes layers of coincidences occur that really have to be acknowledged and given in to. I was going to go for something like a technical museum, concerning clocks, time, mechanics; and not something directly related to my own history and the steps I was somewhat retracing during the first residency at the V&A.

I currently happen to be working at the Royal College of Music in a completely different capacity, and suddenly I am spending time weekly where I was first a student when I was 18 and 19, in 1982 - 4, and so 33 years ago. Here I am really retracing my steps, and it almost feels like revisiting the scene of the crime. All those memories, all those states of being I had processed, suppressed, forgotten dealt with, moved on from. It's not really like a throwback - things have changed, but certain details, the way the doors work, the tiling on the hallways, the noticeboards, all trigger the old and new thoughts simultaneously - I don't go back, but I vividly remember. Walking along a corridor there was a smell which took me straight back to the 80's. Amazing. It took me back to the clothes we wore, the music of the time, the make-up, the hair, the boys, my great friend at college Lizzie Hayes who played the piano.

The way I used to think. The way that led me to how I think now, to what I am now, and everything that led me there. What a lot we owe to our younger selves and the difficulties we went through and got through. This residency is not about a pity party or regurgitation of personal stuff, but while my own history is certainly core, there are other wider aspects to explore.

The RCM has remodelled some parts, naturally - little stays completely static even in a place like that. Much is exactly the same, in that continuum which generations of music students before me had already treaded. I don't feel so traumatised about what happened to me there - perhaps I'll go into all that at some point, although I know it's not an unfamiliar story for an undiagnosed dyslexic in higher education. When something like that is so out of kilter, it has repercussions in other areas of life, and the disorder and lack of control seeps out.

Perhaps even ten years ago I would have used this experience to relive and reprocess, but now I am very aware, because of so many other things in recent life, that this is new time. I've done all that processing, I've done my time.

And so music. For many years since a teenager, the sound emanating from practice rooms was a familiar background soundtrack to my life, and one I somehow thought I would have forever. It's simply wonderful to have that again for a while. Quite a gift. In fact, this whole experience is a gift. Not may people get to go back to a place. So I cannot deny that this is the place which has presented itself for this covert residency.

When I was a student at the RCM the museum of instruments was in a temporary warehouse building in the back courtyard which is now empty. The museum is rather unlovely and about to go through a major refurbishment and rethink. The library used to be at the top of the building and is now on the ground floor, looking like it has been there forever.

I went into the museum, a student was there practising on a harpsichord, and so giving me a private recital.

Ideas crowd in. Already I know what I am aiming for, and how I will develop the idea of the Facsimile Box into a musical memory concept.

Abridged seems right. It has a sense of curtailed.

18th October 2015

Facsimile in Stockholm

In September I took a trip to Sweden, and brought with me printed and cut out Facsimile boxes, adding a glue stick in my case. I made them up in my hotel room and took them out to find places for them in a museum or gallery while I was around, giving an international dimension to my residency at the V&A.

Moderna Museet, The Museum of Modern Art

Nordiska Museet, Nordic Museum

Of course, this can happen anywhere. I or anyone can place Facsimile Boxes in museums and galleries or anywhere else closer to home, with just a little organisation. Probably in the future I will have another spate of placing them.

I was at the V&A recently and decided to seek out where I had left Facsimile Boxes, to see if any remained. I remembered the location of some but not all, and didn't find any. I'm so intrigued but will never know what happened to them, and the thoughts of those who picked them up, even if that was to bin them as ephemeral paper.

18th October 2015

Friday, 11 September 2015

Site Specific Facsimile Boxes at V&A

I think I've just discovered probably the most fun you can have in a museum.

I took about a dozen of made Facsimile Boxes to the V&A to release to the wild, their natural habitat. I found a place for each, somewhere near or like where the images were taken, and left them there.
It was brilliant, and totally covert, as I didn't want them to be immediately taken away by the guard people there. The blocky shapes of substance looked very much in the right place.

When I was looking for somewhere to leave them, it felt like I was casing the joint and about to steal something. How funny to feel like that when I am doing the opposite of stealing. I wonder if there is a word for that - I am not exactly donating, or giving, but surreptitiously, covertly sneaking things in.
It raises an experience of museum and gallery policy issues - art students are forever sneaking little publications into gallery bookshops - apparently.

During my degree at Middlesex, we had to do a group exercise - seven of us did a big joint painting, which was actually a bit rubbish, cut it up, then wore it in Tate Modern, We walked around, sometimes lining up and thus reconstructing the painting.

Access to exhibition spaces, participation in cultural spaces. Decisions, permissions and criteria about what is collected by museums and exhibited in galleries.

So I have left the Facsimile boxes in situ, some more obviously than others. Perhaps I will go back in a few days and see if any remain. In the meantime, my site specific installation is currently in exhibition at the V&A.

What will happen to them. Perhaps they will all be binned tonight. Perhaps someone will find one and feel like they are stealing from the V&A when they sneak it into their bag. Perhaps a couple might remain for a long time.

11th September 2015

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Facsimile Box Project PDF download

Download link to The Facsimile Box files HERE

Inside templates


The Facsimile Box booklet 


The Facsimile Box inside templates


The Facsimile Box outside surfaces 


The Facsimile Box Artefacts