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I was commissioned to make a new work for the project The Suicide of Objects at Catalyst Arts, Belfast. The project explored artworks which intervened in archives. My Dad has been a fanatical collector of printed ephemera for the last 35 years. He has an extensive collection of early Victorian postcards, greetings cards, valentines, calling cards, cigarette cards, Daguerreotype photos etc as well as objects relating to these areas, including a complete Princess Mary tobacco tin which were given to every person in active service during the First WW in 1914, containing cigarettes and tobacco. Other examples of objects in his collection include Magic Lanterns with slides, model mail coaches and Victorian postal scales. His particular interest is postal history.

His passion with regards to his collection stems partly from a fascination with the things as objects in their own right, but more particularly with the connections (both obvious and obscure) that can be made between apparently disparate elements of the collection through a knowledge and understanding of social history, politics and economics. For this project, I collaborated with him in selecting around 20 objects from the collection through which a chain of connections (non-chronological) can be made which return to the first object. Some of the objects had a particular connection with Belfast, for example a card produced by Marcus Ward and Co, a prominent publishing house established in London from the mid 1880’s by the Belfast born publisher Marcus Ward. Also included were two Art Deco cinderella stamps advertising the Balmoral Agricultural Show, and a Cinderella stamp of HMS Antrim.

I developed a video work in which my Dad talks about the objects and the things that link them together. My intention was to draw attention to the way in which objects give themselves up to narratives, or to put it another way, how objects become subjected to narratives. Effectively, it would be possible to present a plausible narrative connection between any 20 objects. To what extent does this animate the objects, or bring them to life, whilst simultaneously killing every other aspect of the object which is not included in this narrative? (for example, its physicality or its previous owners etc). I also made a second video of a pair of female hands exploring the physicality of the objects. The video of my Dad was displayed in the centre of the wall, with the 20 objects in glass cases or lightboxes in a circle around the TV monitor, as though they were satellites. Outside of the circle to the right was the video of the pair of hands

 

image of a man with his collection of Victorian memorabilia

image of a man with his collection of Victorain memorabilia

image of a man with his collection of Victorian memorabilia

 

installation shot of exhibition

 

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