I arrived back from Northern Ireland last Thursday ahead of Friday evening’s PV at Craft in the Bay in Cardiff. I’d really only ever been to Cardiff for rugby matches before, so I wanted to take the opportunity to visit a different part of the city on an ordinary January day.
The train from Paddington delivered me to Wales in a remarkable state of calm, and as I wandered off down Lloyd George Avenue in the falling light, I was caught unawares by a sudden glimpse of my work through the glass walls of the gallery.
After the mad frenzy of completing and sending it at the last minute (as ever) the pieces had been transformed by the bright calm of the white gallery walls; it had changed from “work” to “artwork”, phew.
The idea that context changes the meaning of an object was central to my dissertation and it’s been great to exhibit in a range of spaces over the past year – from the glitz of the Goldsmiths’ Hall, to the deliciously dilapidated R Space, via an assortment of well-lit white walls and display cases in between. Letting other people display the pieces is an interesting challenge, and so far those surprises have all been good ones.
For me it was an absolute joy to be exhibited alongside work I continue to admire. Ann Catrin Evans is a Brighton WMCP graduate (I also got to see her door handles at the Welsh Millennium Centre while I was there), and Cathy Miles is one of the artists I interviewed for my dissertation.
Stuart Cairns defies the laws of fragility with his leaf-ladles and it was great to see Enya Moore’s melon balling tools again. Claire Cawte’s combination of felt and lichen-coated twigs felt like an echo of those tests that lurked in the Tool Museum drawers at my degree show.
It was great to be amongst like-minded folk. For once the answer to “which is your work?” wasn’t just “the tools”. Curator Laura Thomas kindly declared in her introduction that the inspiration for Utility was born out of seeing Tool Museum at New Designers when I graduated in 2011, saying in the catalogue that: “While everything can be used for something, these aren’t functional objects in the traditional sense…they encourage a fresh look at the maker’s transformation of basic materials in to something new, regardless of ‘what it is for’.”
What great encouragement! Having recently graduated from working at my Brighton dining table to the pallet bench, 2013 will be the year to get a properly operational workshop on the go. And tomorrow is my first day of teaching on my old degree course and Brighton – there is so much to learn!