On Thursday and Friday this week I installed my two pieces at the Botanic Gardens and Deadman’s Walk as part of my forthcoming exhibition, Mine the Mountain. What was interesting for me was how, even though I’d planned the work and visualised it in my mind, it appeared so different when actually installed – how new connections between the works were made due to the effects of things one wouldn’t have accounted for, such as, for example, the sun. It was also gratifying for me how members of the public, particularly in Deadman’s Walk were interested to know what I was doing, and more importantly, interested in the work and how it fits with the rest of the exhibition. Being able to speak about things directly is one thing of course, having the work do it for you is another.
Quite a few people knew the name ‘Deadman’s Walk’ but few people knew the history behind it, and it was nice to be able to share my knowledge with people directly. Some clearly knew the name and its origins and assumed before I’d even said anything that the names on the plaques were names of Jews; interesting when one considers that the origins of my research were in Auschwitz.
Having completed the work at Deadman’s Walk I walked to the Botanic Gardens to check on the installation there, and on seeing it again, I was struck by how it worked ‘alongside’ the work in the walk, how the two pieces echoed one another. The sun too gave the piece an added dimension, with the veiled mirrors every now and then catching the sun and for a split second flaring up before dying back down again.
It was as if these ‘glares’ were voices, calling out from the past, albeit briefly, asking to be remembered. They were also in my mind metaphors for our own brief lives in contrast the to the unimaginable span of time we call History. And here there is a connection between this piece and that which I will install in the Town Hall Gallery this week, ‘Stars and Very Lights’ which features 150 faces taken from crowd scenes photographed by Henry Taunt in Oxford. Very Lights are flares fired from a pistol, a term I used to reflect the quickness of life set against the backdrop of ‘non-existence’. In this sense, the sun catching the mirrors echoes that completely – something I hadn’t considered before installing the work.