Twelve Tall Tales, I Cling To Virtue, Politics of Shoes
Guest curated exhibition and presentation of two colloborative projects ’The Politics of Shoes’ with Dash Macdonald and ’I Cling to Virtue’ with Noam Toran. Developed as a singular but fragmented narrative, the exhibition included a number of stories in the form of newly commissioned works and objects from the Crafts Council Collection. The practitioners in the exhibition explored storytelling in compelling and complex ways. By pushing the narrative potential of design and craft practice, they challenge us to reflect upon objects and processes of production in the context of themes as diverse as history, contemporary culture, society and technology.
Crafts Council, UK
Description of project
“When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.” This is Raymond Chandler’s advice for writers struggling with the first line of a novel. Although not my own starting point when I first began to put this exhibition together it has served as a good anchor, attached to which are a number of key points that I have explored. First comes the gun. As most method actors will know, objects are loaded with stories that not only communicate particular narratives and facts, but also provide motivation to act in a particular way. To some extent this is the premise of this exhibition — a recognition that the designed and crafted things with that we surround ourselves are not passive players in our lives, but can contain memories and meanings that become the signifiers of who we are and even the script for how we behave. Secondly comes the doubt. In his piece of advice Chandler recognises that storytelling is a craft in itself. It is not something that comes in an inspired flash, but instead has systems and techniques that can be learned and applied. In terms of the exhibition, I tried to understand the stories contained in the chosen works as much by their structural components, the bits the stories are made of and how they are put together, as their content. In doing so, I began to discover connections across otherwise quite disconnected practices and pieces of work. Finally, if I am to take on board Chandler’s advice I have to define what the principle drama is for the story I am trying, even loosely, to tell. In other words what are my “man”, “gun” and “door”? After some time looking for works to put in the exhibition, rejecting some, including others, what all the final pieces had in common is the tension that exists between the function of the object and its narrative intent. In other words is the vessel there to carry water or to carry stories? Where this tension exists, each of these qualities, like Chandler’s three dramatic elements, are heightened by the other, the push-pull propelling the pieces forward in our imaginations. It is an exploration of how function and narrative are manipulated in relation to each other that I am interested in — and how designers and makers approach this to craft the telling of a story. The exhibition itself had been thought of as a larger narrative made from a number of smaller stories. These stories take the form of newly commissioned works, existing pieces that I had chosen, and a selection of objects from the Crafts Council Collection. Rather like the framing structure used in ancient Indian storytelling, when these otherwise often unconnected stories are placed next to each other under the same umbrella a tension is created that reveals details of each whilst enriching the whole. Ultimately the exhibition was not comprehensive. It was always intended as a partial and personal view and the academic dots were not been fully joined in terms of the narrative themes that run through the show. It felt like it would be forcing the point to do so. However, the intention was that by drawing this eclectic mix of projects together, the richness of the narrative possibilities within design and craft is revealed.
Description of work included
1. Curated Exhibition 2. Mixed Media presentation of ’ I Cling to Virture’: Objects, Text and Video 3. Mixed Media presentation of ’ The Politics of Shoes’: Objects and Video
Type of work
Curated Exhibition for the Crafts Council, UK. The exhibition included two works I Cling to Virtue & Politics of Shoes. The Politics of Shoes was commisioned by the Crafts Council for the exhibition.
29 July 2017 - 20 September 2017
Oriel Davies Gallery The Park, Newtown Powys SY16 2NZ
Link to web site
Speculative & Critical Design
Pedagogic practices & Curation