In April 2006, I asked a group of local craftsmen to create the three contrasting houses of folklore, in a gallery setting. The project was stimulated by council plans for urban renewal at a site nearby. The houses were built over three days and brought valuable opportunities to observe each craftsman at work, to document their embodied skills, and listen to their opinions about relationships between art, craft and making a living. The ‘pig’ scale of the finished installation allowed each perfect little house to be experienced close up. Visitors could pat the thatched roof and sniff its grassy scent, slide their hands along the cool elegant surface of the polished wood, examine the slate's veins of fossils, or count the run of the dry gritty bricks, as they imagined living inside each space. To create tension, a video of the recent nearby demolition of three 1960's residential tower blocks, was also shown.
The skills of the craftsmen were self-evident and brought tacit integrity to the work. The communal familiarity of the story, and the sensual intimacy of the installation combined to show visitors to the gallery that the materiality of man-made things: in this case the houses' qualities of construction, look, odour, touch and feel, are our practical means to objectify myth, morality, identity, community, power and social values. Working skilfully with materials to give them shape and meaning is how ideas, experiences and emotions are made tangible …... how they are made real.
After three weeks, I became The Big Bad Wolf when the houses were broken up, to make way for the next exhibition.
You can see more about this project and others at:
(click on the hammer on the desktop workbench at a-brand.co.uk for Huff & Puff)
Project concept, design and management, photography and video creation by Fiona Candy (2011).
Thanks to Barry Milne, Barry Turner, Dominic Rogan, Harold Wignall; Ben Casey; John Turner Ltd; Pad Gallery, Preston; Arts Council England; "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf" played by Henry Hall's BBC Dance Orchestra (1930).
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