So Paula left me a comment about yesterday’s post, so I’m going to try and explain the process behind that work, so here goes, hold on it will probably be a twisted ride!! So lets follow a white rabbit and try not to get lost in my mind! This is the Richardson Building in Buffalo NY. Designed by H H Richardson it is on the historic register, and it’s beautiful grounds were landscaped by Olmstead. It was once the state asylum, before it started falling apart! It is an incredible Gothic edifice… (well Richardson Romanesque if you want to be technical about style!)
Through this building I got to be really interested in women and madness… I created a series of calling cards for women who had been institutionalised in the 1800’s and left them on cars all around the area, I wanted people to remember that real people suffered inside this amazing architecture.
So then I became pretty obsessed with these women and their stories, two women in particular, Adriana Brinckle and Adeline P. Lunt who published eloquent accounts of their stays in the asylum. Adriana used this incredible language full of laundry metaphors, like being smoothed out with a flat iron and cut to a pattern, Adeline spent 28 years in an asylum over a piano, (her father had her declared insane to not pay the bill for the piano, then died, leaving her stranded inside the walls.) Adeline was the inspiration behind the work from yesterday’s post, she was allowed books to read and so tore a letter a day from a page so it would be inconspicuous, then sewed the letters into the seams of clothes she created as part of her therapy. A dressmaker eventually let out a seam on one of these dresses and petitioned for her release. The tenacity of her behaviour over 28 years still gives me goosebumps. It appealed to my sense of humour to take the letters to restore their voices from these really pompous old psychiatric textbooks. It was this REALLY time consuming thing that totally appealed to my way of working, I like intensive and meticulous, repetitive work it turns out (who knows why that is?) The end result became an installation that eventually carried me back to England to write my Master’s dissertation on the link between mad women and immoral wallpaper, (which is a whole other story, and what I am making work about now)
Any how what I was trying to show is how one thing just led to another, and that it’s really just replicating someone else’s process, certainly not anything terribly original…
This is really how I work, I read A LOT, things go into my head, then they all wrap around each other, and jumble up, and then stuff comes out the other side. Maybe my view is occasionally indosyncratic but its not particularly original or unusual. I’m certainly not smart enough for a good original idea! If I learned anything during the tortuous process of writing (?) my master’s – it was that I don’t know very much, and that I have a really hard time thinking linearly, so while I think every now and then about a PhD, right now I am happy to make art that goes around in circles…
OK shutting up now… have to go to get hair wax to muss up Nan’s coat and fabric dye to make her less white… back to life.
Let’s let the mad girls have the last word today… This is from Adriana’s broadside about her experience in the institution (although obviously I painted them on this banner and hung it at the site!)