an exhibition designed to highlight Mental Health issues and celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week – May 2018
at The Open Door Gallery, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire
The ten Archi-Frames with Solar Plate Prints depict parts of photos found in a Brighton flea market. The frames were made of wood that was once old architrave taken from the demolished walls of Graylingwell Mental Asylum.
When I saw the architrave I wondered what sights and scenes this inanimate material had witnessed. Images that came to mind were of old and abandoned wards & corridors in a Mental Asylum were sad and poignant. The corridors looked scarily like frames when a face was superimposed on the end wall, and bore a similarity to my idea of how the finished piece should look.
My frames have, on the whole, the thick, outer parts of the architrave turned around to make a central viewing window rather than the more usual, narrower edge in the middle. With the origins of this material in mind I hope that looking down these apertures will lend a sense of voyeurism to the peering experience. For this reason too, they are hung just slightly lower than is comfortable as I am evoking a sense of bending down to look through a key or peep hole; where what is seen is difficult to make sense of – people locked away, unable to go home or escape the wardens who, most probably would continuously observe them through.
The solar plate etchings within the apertures are heavily cropped parts of family photos found in a flea market in Brighton. The images used depict arms, knees, hands, faces and an eye uncannily taken out of context and digitally manipulated to create a uniform ‘look’ by applying a Bitmap screen – as used in photo journalism.
Happy New Year everyone. As we approach a brand new, fresh year I am hoping that some things may happen to give me some optimism for the future. But I am struggling to foresee anything that might work that magic?
I won’t look to this UK government to suddenly wake up, look around them and see what an utter mess this country is in. To pick one area where they could help, the NHS, they have cancelled all non-essential operations for January – apparently it is NOT in crisis!!?? Then there is the 3.4% fare rise on our railways whilst earnings have not risen sufficiently to make this hike affordable. Let’s not forget poverty, how could we forget that the past Christmas saw more homeless children than ever before. Which takes us nicely onto the lack of affordable housing whilst around 610,123 homes remain empty in England; 31,884 in Scotland and 23,131 in Wales.
I won’t look to the environment as we leave a year riddled with extreme weather. The fingerprints of climate change experienced throughout 2017 have featured supercharged storms, hurricanes, floods and heatwaves through to bushfires. 2017 has seen it all.
So I’ll move onto world peace or the lack of it. With the crisis in Gaza, the rise of Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria and the international stand-off ongoing in Ukraine, it can sometimes feel like the whole world is at war. And experts believe this is actually almost universally the case, according to a think-tank which produces one of the world’s leading measures of “global peacefulness” – things are only going to get worse. Out of 162 countries covered by the Institute for Economics and Peace’s latest study says that just 11 countries were not involved in conflict of one kind or another.
Without even mentioning Donald Trump or North Koreait is looking like a rather bleak year that we are entering. Yes, little babies are fantastic and wonderfully full of potential but what sort of world will they grown up in? The planet upon which we live is beautiful and nature is wonderful but human beings are working hard to pollute it. Technology is a whole other bag of worms offering some potential advantages and some threats with multi-national companies in charge of whole banks of knowledge about us. We must not walk blindfold into this brave new world. If I have depressed you, I am sorry, and beg you to reply to this Blog with some ideas about 2018 that may cheer us up?
PS. What a shame these images by my favourite printmaker, Kathe Kollwitz, still resonates nearly a hundred years after they were created.