Chapter 1: Newlyn Art Gallery

Chapter 1: Newlyn Art Gallery

We tested some of our initial ideas at Newlyn Art Gallery in 2004. There were two significant new works, with ancilliary works made on site during the course of the week long exhibition.

Dividing the gallery into two zones of operation, military (MILOPS) and domestic (DOMOPS), the space was dominated by a 'plotting table', a direct visual reference on those used by the RAF in WW2, which straddled an area demarcated as 'No Man's Land'. The table was designed to function as a 3D mind map for visitors, who chalked their own words relating to ‘Tanks’ and ‘Tablecloths’ and physically pushed them with a plotting stick to create interrelationships with other words. The table was used not only as a means to discuss ideas, but also as a more creative way of visualizing more complex notions.

The second major work was Spit & Polish. The idiom resonates in both spheres. In these early stages of the project, archetypes of the Sergeant Major and the Housewife were deployed to signify the military and domestic. The obsessive tidying of the Housewife echoed the pedantic fervour of the Sergeant Major. The Sergeant Major deployed chores to occupy the ranks, whilst the Housewife battled accumulations of dust and dirt threatening to overrun the home.

The act of polishing is significant in this respect. The soldier’s black leather boots are polished both to maintain integrity, and to present an acceptable appearance. The Housewife’s silver cutlery must be polished to prevent both the black tarnish of time, and the whispers of the neighbours. Black is rigorously applied to one, and removed from the other. For the exhibition, we produced a set of laser cut cutlery in black leather which was affixed to the gallery wall, in close proximity to the plotting table, in a 'swarm' reminiscent of a radar signature of airborne objects.

Photos: Steve Tanner

Spit & Polish 1
Laser cut leather cutlery
Sizes vary

Plotting table [Tanks & Tablecloths]
Plywood, pine, vinyl
2440 x 2440 x 1000 mm

Hedera Xileh
Desks, lamps, desktop materials, felt laser-cut ivy leaves

Protect Blanket
Wool army surplus blanket, felt laser-cut letters
Approx size 2000 x 1500mm