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AIC215 Art In Context – A Breakdown of Communication!

It is neither Art for Art, nor Art against Art. I am for Art, but for Art that has nothing to do with Art. Art has everything to do with life, but it has nothing to do with Art.

Robert Rauschenberg

Using my own life experience and thinking about how the use of technology is influencing communication within families, especially at mealtimes I decided to to try and find a way I could express this as an installation piece.

I am part of a locally based Facebook group which aims to recycle unwanted items rather than send them to landfill. As a keen recycler I have been using this site for the past four years and have been able to make use of many items both in my home studio and my space at college.

This summer I collected an unwated table from one person and a set of chairs from another. At the time I knew I wanted them for something… I just didn’t know what?

As part of this module we had to consider not only what we were going to make, which materials we wer going to use, but also where and when it was going to be placed. To ensure it had the right impact on the viewer.

At college we are fortunate to be able to use the foyer as a display area. This has a designated resessed space as well as the ability ro be adapted to showcase wall hangings, light boxes and sculpture.

As the child of a deaf parent, communication has always been a persistant theme in my life. The need to translate for my mother, from an early age has meant that I view discussion and communication between family members as highly important.

What I have witnessed, working in schools, is the impact that technology is having on families, particularly children. Time and again I would witness eager Year 1 and 2 children despirate for their parent to collect them at the end of the day, only to be met by someone who was more interested in their mobile phone than on what their child had to say. By Y3 it appears that most children (in the area I worked) had a phone of their own, which the parent would give them on collection, an instant pasifyer! After many repititions of being ignored in favour of a phone, the child could then ignor its own parent, prefering to communicate with it own phone.

I was also aware, from what the children would tell me, of the neglict these children were witness to at mealtimes. No meals were taken at what was traditionally the hub of family life (the kitchen table) and therefore another missed oppertunity for the parent and child to talk about the ups and downs of their day.

As there has been a dramatic increase in demand for child mental services I wondered if this was due in some part to the increased role social media has on children coupled with the lack of real communications between family members.

With this in mind I decided that I would use my reclaimed table and chairs as the centre of my installation as for me it describes family life.

I used a decoupage method using paper napkins to cover the chairs, as the napkins closely relate to eating. I also decided to use wall emulsion to pain the chairs as this is much more delicate and easy to damage (as shown in one of my pictures above.)

The tops of each of the chairs are highlighted in gold leaf to tie in with the wall art that accompanies this installation.

In reflecting on this work, I would say that this was very time consuming. Cleaning and sanding the chairs, then painting them with three layers each, next adding two layers of (individually cut to size) paper was a labourious task. However I am pleased with the end result.


Published by stweddle

Living in Newcastle I have access to great landscape; sea, urban, country and city which I am continually inspired by. Starting my artistic qualification in my 50's allows me the benefit of long years admiring others art and a burning need to create my own.

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