Ghosts

  

LOOK INTO THE LIGHT FOR A CLEAR VIEW said the S. Mark Gubb public artwork just outside Portsmouth Harbour station. I obeyed the order. During my week-long stint at Aspex I was rewarded with a sky of blue, hot sunshine, a rollercoaster, the Spinnaker Tower and fresh sea air.

The public had been very generous in donating their unwanted items to Working Title. I spent the first couple of days reveling in the Aladdin’s cave of junk. I decided not to make concrete plans immediately, just to react to what I found. In order to warm up, I made a few small works quickly: a little landscape made from jar lids, deflated balloons and images of bonsai; a toast rack of 2D trees; a fire extinguisher which sprayed out a rainbow of colours; a laptop with the keys replaced by upturned rusty screws; a book turned into a laptop with the leftover keys; a dying tree made out of brown paper, copper piping and tyres. It was difficult not to get giddy with all the possibly-maybe useful stuff. I admired my fellow artists (it was a pleasure to work alongside Beata Kozlowska and Andy Parker) for their far more considered approach, which rubbed off on me eventually and I calmed down…

By accident I found that some white tent poles I had hoarded fitted exactly onto small white plastic bottles. I had also been attracted to a large roll of white material (possibly carpet backing). Using a tent pole base as a stencil, I cut circles out of the material. Once threaded onto the poles, I found I had made strange looking structures inspired by my surroundings – they were spindly like the aforementioned Tower, but oddly organic like something growing on the seabed. The structures’ individual elements were no longer useful – but at least I had rescued the material, the bottles and the poles from oblivion (even if only for a short while). The structures were hazy, shadowy things, hovering in the crevices between use, misuse and disuse  – I think they might have been ghosts of sorts.

Nicola Dale

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