Posts Tagged ‘Cathy Dillon’

Post-performance

Shelved

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

As the sun rose on Friday the 3rd, I was scurrying round my house gathering the essential materials I needed to make sure Shelved could be set up successfully. With a sports bag filled with my various exhibition pieces, a laundry bag filled with thirteen meters of red velvet material, four rolls of double sided sticky tape and a pair of scissors I made my way to Lincoln University’s Great Central Warehouse Library! The exhibition was to be like no other ‘performance’ I had done before, and I was surprised I felt so nervous. With a bag on each arm I squeezed through the turnstiles and struggled into the lift, (I know, I know, I was only going to the first floor, but those bags were heavy!!). I continued on and marched down the central aisle and dragged my bags through the tiny opening nestled between the two bookcases making up the final shelf at the back of the first floor. Looking at the sun streaming through the closed blinds of the large windows opposite the shelf I felt happy I’d picked this shelf out of all the available ones in the library.

Arranging the fabric was definitely the hardest part. I had had a trip to the library the previous week to measure up all the individual shelf pockets and to ensure that I would actually be able to carry out the procedure that I had mapped out in my head. Measuring up the individual pockets also meant I could cut all the pieces to measure at home and wouldn’t have to do this in the library before setting up the actual exhibition pieces. I was so pleased when I bought my red fabric, my original thoughts had been to create blank spaces, using white cardboard to create boxes, but after a nudge in the right direction from Wes red velvet fabric seemed like the right route to take. The red velvet brought a warmth and luxuriousness to the stark shelves. It made me think of Victorian magicians and seemed to add to what would be the sudden magical appearance of my exhibition. Rather than going for a modern art gallery look I was going more for a classical look, think less Tate Modern and more National Gallery. I felt that the juxtaposition of my quite modern pieces against the traditional background would work well giving the piece a certain elegance yet enhancing the bizarre nature of the actual pieces.

Once the fabric was dealt with I needed to carefully place my pieces on the shelves, and leave them for my audience to view!

ForbiddenFruit

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

Forbidden Fruit
“God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5, New International Version)

Forbidden Fruit was an exploration of how both primary and secondary audience members would react to a ‘treat’ left on the shelf. It was part of the exhibition, set out in exactly the same way as the others, however, the unopened can of Coke was something of an experiment.  If the audience members knew I wasn’t there, no one was watching… would they take it? In my trial run of the exhibition I left a Coca-Cola can and a Kit-Kat together, within 1.5 hours both were missing and only the Kit-Kat wrapper remained. This time, however, the cola can sat on the shelf for 6.5 hours from 10am till 4:30pm! I can’t be sure who took the can but I believe it was probably a secondary audience member, someone just passing by, ‘at site the audience may be incidental- those present in the same place at the same time – and obdurate’1. I believe this as after talking to a fair few friends and course mates about the exhibition many of them were shocked that someone had taken it. My reply to them was, ‘But that was the point.’, ‘The point was to take it?’, they questioned. I explained that it wasn’t necessarily the point to take the can but that the piece was a temptation.  I had set it up to test the audience, to see if anyone would take it and change my exhibition in doing so. The fact that it remained there for five hours says more than if it had disappeared within one. Most of the people I spoke to, didn’t want to take the can, as they didn’t want to ruin my exhibition. The piece was a temptation and for most the temptation of the pleasure of a can of Coke against ruining my work wasn’t enough. The audience that viewed the piece may have struggled with the problem of taking the can and altering my work or may just have seen the installation as art and respected that it should not be altered.
I loved the way the can looked on the shelf, the red metal gleaming in the sunlight made it appear like a mirage. The red of the can looked just as inviting as I imagine the red apple dangling from a branch in the Garden of Eden would have looked. When the can finally did disappear a small card was placed on the shelf that read ‘Can of Coca-Cola – Last seen16:30’. Then I placed a Kit-Kat behind the note, I thought perhaps the addition of the note might make a difference into how long it took for the Kit-Kat to disappear but it didn’t. At first I was disappointed but eventually I began to realise the fact people didn’t feel comfortable taking it was just as important as if someone did.

AnEmptySpace

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

 

An Empty Space

The artist invites you to fill this space as you see fit

The idea of An Empty Space was similar to Forbidden Fruit, a further test on  unsuspecting library users, my audience members. When given with an opportunity to participate, how would they respond? Apparently… with rubbish! Left for me by the end of the day was:

  • An empty Snack a Jack Packet
  • An empty Fanta bottle
  • A Freddo wrapper
  • A small sweet
  • Notes from another site-specific performance
  • A London underground ticket to Liverpool Street
  • Two pennies
  • A drawing of a smiley face, captioned ‘Hello I’m a book’.

One piece that did seem to hold some meaning was  a print out of a quote from The Real Thing: A Play by Tom Stoppard that read,

‘Words… They’re innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they’re no good any more… I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.’

I struggled to find the meaning and beauty in the rubbish and wrappers, but then I thought, I’d left it open to the audiences interpretation and this was how they wanted to respond. I did also realise that they would have been ill prepared to contribute to an artistic piece and probably only contributed with those items that they had to hand. I thought back to when I had an idea for a piece called Found, which would have consisted of things found in the library. After spending a few days in the library trying to search out interesting artefacts, I honestly didn’t find anything I thought I could create a great piece from. The items left in my empty space, were artefacts from each person’s visit to the library the fact that some held meaning whilst others seemed to be discarded rubbish was not the issue. Individuals had contributed and this was the interesting issue.

 

Maggie

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

Maggie
 Poll tax was introduced by the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Maggie, is collage of Margaret Thatcher surrounded by images from the 1992 poll tax riots. This piece relates to the shelf pocket it was placed on. The book directly to the right of the pocket was Britain in the Polls 1992  by Anthony King. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I felt disregarding the books on the shelf I had chosen, would be ignorant.

Rule, Britania!

 

 

 

 


Rule, Britannia!
Territories held within the British Empire from 1839
The vision behind this piece was similar to that of Maggie, allowing the shelf to become part of the exhibition, this was placed on a shelf contain numerous books on post-colonial politics. It consisted of cut outs of over 200 countries Britain colonised since 1839. The cut outs were placed on the shelf and I blew them to create the feeling of dislocation that occurs within colonised cultures.

D.N.A.

IMG_0864

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecule that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and many viruses.

Most of my ideas surrounding my own identity got lost in development. This idea stuck, due to the way I heard people react in the trial run. While sneakily hiding behind the shelf, pretending to look for books, I overheard 2 boys describing it as disgusting, and when they saw the Coke can, decided it was best to leave it, because someone who’d put their toenails on a shelf has got to be pretty gross! This averse reaction made me want to keep it as part of the exhibition.

 


 

 

 

In & Out
Collection of returned and borrowed receipts collected from the GCW University Library

In & Out

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

In & Out, was part of the exhibition that looked into the library users themselves, in probably the most obvious way. The returned and borrowed receipts contain the library user’s names, library card numbers, books they have taken or returned, and on which date they did so. Almost everybody leaves them in the self-service library machines, apart from maybe a few timid first years that have been told they absolutely must keep them safe. The amount of information about ourselves we leave open freely for strangers to view is disturbing, although this information is seemingly unimportant information, we wouldn’t expect someone to collect this information and read it and the thought might make us quite uncomfortable even though we freely left it there for anyone to see

Nails

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

The Unreadable Collection
If you wanted to make a book unreadable, how would you do it?

This was the main focus within my whole exhibition, the collection was made from eight ‘unreadable’ books. These pieces were the most time consuming and yet the most interesting to make after I developed the idea from looking at making paper.  When I made the decision to create 

‘unreadable’ books, I gained inspiration from the Book Arts website

Pulped

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

((http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/)) and literally asked myself the question, “If you wanted to make a book unreadable, how would you do it? ”  I thoroughly enjoyed, thinking up ideas to create and soon found the continuing metaphor of the book and it’s pieces all being there, but it being unreadable, beautiful.

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

 

 

 

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

cropped-Flowers.jpg

Shelved, 3/5/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Word Count: 1945

  1. Pearson, 2010, p. 17 []
Posted: May 12th, 2013
Categories: Shelved
Tags:
Comments: No Comments.

A Perfect Place.

Thinking about creating numerous peices to display on the library shelves, yet again my eyes wandered back to the bookarts website1. I took inspiration from the website and soon realised that the majority of the books I had collected would be made into unreadable book sculptures. This meant that they would keep their individual meaning and beauty locked deep within them all. However, this is not the only exploration that will be made within my exhibit. Through the idea of unreadable books I intend to look at the identity of books and their importance within society. If ‘To make a book is to gain power over objects.’2  then to make a book unreadable is to take that power away from the books, I will not be completely destroying the books, so the power will remain, just not be visible  In the exhibition I will also look into the library’s identity, the library user’s identity and my own identity. I worked out a long list of concepts for exhibitions revolving around these pieces. Some ideas fell by the way as my piece took shape and some took on a greater life, looming large in their importance to the piece.

I had to find the perfect place to display my exhibition. I knew the bookshelf would need meaning, it was really important to me that the book shelf wasn’t just any old shelf, convenient but without relevance. I wandered up and down the isles on each individual floor. I started with the third floor, I felt perhaps the silent nature might lend itself to the vision of an art gallery. However, it was too quiet and I realised that one of the main points of art is to raise discussion. The silence would be a hindrance to the process, discussion would not take place and I wanted my efforts to spark conversation and discussion with people. It wanted my piece to cause sparks of communication and for ideas to be set alight about what the pieces meant to everyone individually. None of the Shelves on this floor spoke to me, and so I moved down a floor. The second floor is where I spend a lot of my time in the library, as this is the floor that holds the Drama books, I lingered around the art books, but it just felt to obvious and predictable. I moved done to the first floor and as I got to the back of this floor it was like I had stumbled across the Holy Grail. As the natural light streamed in through the large glass windows I heard angels singing, not really I just thought it look pretty awesome. The last bookshelf on the 1st floor stands opposite a huge set of glass windows, most windows in the library, excluding around the stairs, are quite small. The huge amount of natural light flooding in makes this bookshelf feel like a different part of the library. Artificial lights are on everywhere in the library to aid the students, making sure we’re not all stumbling around bumping into each other like moles scurrying around our underground mazes. But this shelf didn’t feel artificial; looking out at the people going about their daily business contrasted with library life, I felt a real juxtaposition of energy. There is also a small bench that runs along the window, the perfect place for someone to sit and think, potentially critically, about my work. The library’s architects clearly saw me coming, could they have made it any easier for me!

21/03/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

21/03/2013, GCW Library, photography taken by Cathy Dillon

After inviting Wes to see my proposed exhibition space, he agreed, even though the only meaning behind choosing the shelf was aesthetic, that meaning was enough. We spoke about the shelf it was on and how it would be ignorant to completely ignore the books surrounding my piece. So it was decided another exploration within my exhibition would be about and including the books on the shelf 324.242 – 327.73, Politics and government, Electoral systems, Migration, Colonialism, slavery and emancipation, International relations.

 

 

 

Word Count: 683

Works Cited

Wasserman, Krystyna, (2007), The Book as Art: Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Princeton Architectural Press.

 

  1. http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/ []
  2. Wasserman, 2007, pg.12 []
Posted: April 25th, 2013
Categories: Shelved
Tags:
Comments: No Comments.

Recycle.

Looking deeper into my idea of using bookmarks, as a guide of some sort to take people on a journey through the library, I began to look at how I could create these bookmarks.

I looked into how to make paper, and surprisingly it was relatively simple. All you need is: a blender, a deep tray, water, old paper, and a type of mesh material (like the ones you would use to protect vegetables from insects).

I have the majority of these things, except the mesh  material, which I bought cheaply on the internet. To begin with I used a newspaper. It made…well what I can only describe as  some sort of mush. I hadn’t thought it through properly and it didn’t go well. It was due to the fact that  newspaper is already made from recycled materials, the paper is not particularly dense and has a  high amount of ink incorporated in it. What I ended up with was a grey mess and not pleasant looking, I didn’t even wait for it to dry. I realised that  I would have to buy some books from a charity shop and use these. However, while wandering through the library one day my eyes settled on the old books, no longer wanted by the library, selling for 50 pence. At first I picked the books at random, just choosing books that had an aesthetic appeal to me. I found a few that  were drama books and so I picked  them up too, feeling they would be very pertinint to the project.  A few were foreign language books and a few were on politics. I trundled on home and set about making my recycled paper.

The first step is to tear the pages of one of the books up and this was an act I struggled with. I had been brought up to respect books, I know my mother some how drilled into my head the importance and significance of books. I loved reading and was told never to rip, throw, deface or damage books. And so the battle within my head began. One side taking the view I was giving the books new life, the other that I was an awful human being. There I was tearing up books when there are people who have died defending their write to read and have an education. I reconciled the issue by telling myself If I hadn’t  bought the books from the library they would be sent to be pulped and recycled.This greatly improved my humour.  I began to feel like a  super hero, BookGirl, saving books from the terrifying PULPER!! It felt good to save the books from the pulper but soon i realised the  books didn’t want to be saved and sit on my bookshelf never being read.  They didn’t need my pity they were on their way to the pulper for a reason. If no one buys them, or wants them, off they go to become  something new,  saving a few trees from being cut down in the process. In a crazy way this was their circle of life!!

One of the books I originally bought and was drawn to, was  ‘The Arts In Early England’  by Baldwin Brown. I flicked through the book and it had so much information in it, there were even little fold outs, with diagrams and tables of data on it. The fact it’s an old book and probably is no longer in print is why I struggled wanting to save it.  I also felt it was a book that could possibly come in handy one day, (it won’t, I will never read it).  The library would not be removing the books if they were useful, the age of the book, the reason why I like it, is probably its worse enemy. Written before the internet age I could probably find all the information in this book with one Google search, into the blender!

I also  bought a small book of poems, by a Spanish writer called Juana Melendez de Espinosa. I am unable to read Spanish and actually struggled to find any information on the author on the internet. My Dad speaks some basic Spanish and so I asked him if he could translate any of the poems. He disjointedly translated these once carefully crafted verses, words like ‘moon’, ‘house’ and ‘night’ standing out to him. Part of the beauty was probably lost in translation and part also probably lost in the quality of translation, but I still felt bad about tearing up the book nonetheless! I battled with my conscience but finally managed to tear it up. My  reasoning? I had the author’s name, and if I’m ever desperate to read some Spanish poetry (which I can almost definitely say I won’t be) I can look him up.

There were quite a few foreign language books and the thought that there may be a modern foreign language student sat writing their dissertation, wondering if there was a  book on ‘A Literary History of France’, searching for the perfect quote from Robert Niklaus, to back up his ideas, and I have just shredded the book he’s searching for is a little distressing. But, to think like that would be soul destroying, he never knew it existed so doesn’t know what he’s missing out on. A good lesson to learn early on in life, that you won’t miss what you’ve never had.  The library would not remove books if they in regular use and needed for specific courses, The MFL student probably would laugh at my copy of this book, ‘Pah! Published in 1970!? What possible use is that to me?’ I hear him say, mocking my poor little outdated book! Into the blender it goes!

I waited for the first batch of paper to dry and when it finally had, what I held in my hand was nothing short of  beautiful. I had not begun to comprehend the joyous feeling of making something myself which could prove to be both useful and beautiful in equal measures.  Not all of the words had been removed, so the paper was littered with the odd word or letter. The metaphor the paper created was amazing, I was glad I had kept the blending process to one book at the time and the pages I created were from one single book, not several merged together. I had destroyed the book, and all the information it held but somehow it was still within the new paper. After showing this to Wes, we decided that perhaps the beauty of the metaphor is something I could use to create numerous similar pieces and my idea developed form just bookmarks into an art exhibition, utilising the Library’s shelves to display my work. ‘Exhibitions are fundamentally theatrical, for they are how museums perform the knowledge to create’1

And so, Shelved was born!

Word Count: 1149

Works Cited

Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, (1998), Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums and Heritage, University of California Press. 

 

 

  1. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, 1998, p. 3 []
Posted: April 24th, 2013
Categories: Shelved
Tags: , , ,
Comments: No Comments.

What are you looking for?

After looking back at the work of Space Hijackers1 and their piece The A-Z of Retail Trickery, I was really interested in how they were revealing the tricks that major shops and brands use to get us to spend more money. They  show their audience the ways in which shops get them, the consumer,  to spend more money and exploit them. Companies spend a lot of money and time on working out how best to organise their shops. The ideas used within shops are almost opposite to that within the library. While shopping, companies attempt to find ways to get us to spend more money, buying things we don’t need. The library is organised in a way that hopefully makes it easier to find exactly what its users need, so they do not have to spend their time searching.

Organising the library takes a huge amount of effort and time to get right, Lincoln University library uses the Dewy Decimal Classification , this system is both complex and yet incredible simple. The Library is not designed to exploit us; it is designed for efficiency, and to create an environment for work. However, in creating an efficient working environment, the books within the library simply become numbers on a shelf.  There is a wealth of knowledge that many users will never see as they are not browsing but are able to arrive immediately at the place that houses their topic.  It would be extremely rare to simply stumble across an unexpected title or book within the library; to find something in the library you have to be looking for it. You have to know the floor it’s on, the general area of the bookshelf and the code on the book.

 

Imi Maufe’s, You Are Here, from Part 1 of the Bookmark Project, 2004 - http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/

Imi Maufe’s, You Are Here, from Part 1 of the Bookmark Project, 2004 – http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/

 

But what if you didn’t know the title or author you’re looking for? Perhaps, you’re not sure what area the book you’re looking for would fall into? I would love to be able to create a piece using the idea that you don’t need to know what you’re looking for to find a book you need. A piece aimed at continue to serve the library user and engaging their mind, underscoring the importance of the libraries within the public or university community, the role that it serves and the amount of information contained within it’s walls.

I was intrigued with the idea of how I could use the idea of bookmarks as an artefact within the library; bookmarks are useful, can be beautiful and are often extremely personal about the owner and their choice of book. After looking into the work on http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/  I was further intrigued by The Bookmarks projects. This project encourages appreciation of work in the form of an artist’s book. Artists who take part produce 100 signed and numbered bookmarks, these are then given away through distribution boxes at venues around the world. On every bookmark is the website address which will bring the person who found the bookmark to a gallery of artwork online.

I am particularly interested in the idea that my bookmarks, or guides, could possibly infiltrate into the library system and continue to do so after the piece has finished.

 

Word Count:538

  1. http://www.spacehijackers.org/ []
Posted: March 7th, 2013
Categories: Shelved
Tags:
Comments: No Comments.
© 2017 Babel. Hosted by University of Lincoln Blogs.