Machina Loci


Get over it

A solo exhibition commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts for their gallery in Burnley Lancashire January-March 2010.

This exhibition was the last to be commissioned by MPA for their space.

Responding to Burnley’s role in the industrial revolution as well as its more recent troubled past, I could not help but see this city through the lens of my own childhood in a depressed industrial city. The contrast between the beauty of the surrounding countryside with its sense of freedom and optimism and the way that Burnley presents itself to the world inspired the main installation of 'barriers' and 'stiles'. I collected phrases felt by friends and acquaintances to have held them back in life, printed these on the floor and displayed their back stories. Eight constructions some suggestive of minimalist sculpture, were arranged to allow visitors to get over the barriers. Hard hats and high visibility vests were provided for this encounter with material and immaterial obstacles, bringing home the sad absurdity of the ways that words do ever hurt us – both as individuals and communities.

My interest in text grew out of a piece I made in 2006, Sticks and Stones, that looked at the relationship between advertising-like words and a particular act of violence.

The exhibition also included a number of Safe and Healthy Art pieces which drew good humoured attention to the health and safety consequences of interactive art work. Posters employing the prosaic aesthetics of regulatory graphics to set out rules for 'risky' activities accompanied artwork intended to be lifted, climbed or stepped on. Challenging the notion that art is something to be viewed from a comfortable distance, this series raised questions about potential risks to both visitor and artwork and wherein ultimate responsibility for these should lay.

Get Over It was reviewed favourably in the January 2010 edition of the Lancashire Art Network Newsletter. Additional work made during a weekend residency and workshop (CSI Burnley: the only safe art is dead art) commented on the imminent closure of the gallery after 40 years.

In order to better understand and interpret visitor responses to this work, I brought Get Over It to London as part of a two week residency at the A.P.T. Gallery. Responding to the different setting and spatial configuration, the Safe and Healthy Art series was expanded to include a sliding pole installation, At Your Own Risk, and a number of new Heavy Objects for lifting. Impromptu 'DIY performances' by visitors were observed and documented and the dance collective Kiihko was invited to develop a piece within the installation (Get Safe! Co. 2010), which was presented to a public audience.

Materials (MPA)
Get Over It (MPA) installation: vinyl text, plywood and mild steel stiles
The Only Way up is Through: mdf, paint, glass, steel ladder (provided by
Safe and Healthy Art: non-stick tape; digital display; high visibility vests and hard hats on hanging rail with electric light; heavy object of wax and plaster
Caution! Sign: plastic sign with custom printing
Rules for Safe Lifting poster
Rules for Safe Climbing poster
CSI Burnley: hazard tape, paper, stencils for writing with UV pens, UV flashlights

Materials (APT)
Get Over It (APT) installation: same as above but without The Only Way up is Through and with:
At Your Own Risk
: scaffolding platform, mesh barrier, mdf stair, steel ladder, stainless steel sliding pole, foam and gaffer tape landing pad
Rules for Safe Sliding poster
Heavy objects: wax, pebbles, pitch, cotton gloves, found wood
Trip Hazard: found rolling suitcase, electrical wire, sockets, led light


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