Profusion of Blooms
Florets and other precious things
‘Things kept, things left unkept,’
My home is a studio, a place of work, a place for keepsakes, a place of storage and a place of making.
A space full of tests, samples, materials, the unsold and the ‘somewhat useful for some future time’. With an insecure income, keeping things has become a way of life for me. I save - store - hoard - keep all I can because maybe tomorrow there will be no income. Uncertainty is the rational for keeping, collecting, storing – as well as keeping a memory from the past alive, these things are also three dimensional sketches of what might be possible in the future. My home/studio is a place of objects, materials and mementos. A material diary of my life in Singapore. Keeping these archives of events (successes and failures) of the past 15 years, means I surround myself with a life that has passed. So quickly it seems, this time has vanished in an instant - somehow - living in Singapore is a tenuous experience.
Yet, the weather remains as a constant – always hot, always humid – there are no variations to mark the passing of seasons and the passing of time. Work, projects and commissions ebb and flow – one to the next – there is no real stop or start - they overlap with a slow emergence of confirmations and soft closures and completions. There are only a few lines are drawn in the sand, only a few days were celebrated as special, different – as the constant consistency of days and weeks flowed together to create years.
The approach of a new MRT subway station signalled a shift, a change, finally arriving sooner than expected. All residences in Kuo Chuan Ave are ‘moved along’ so the street can be ‘rebuilt’. Forced to leave my Kuo Chuan home has been a substantial task. The stuff collected and amassed – the essential equipment and materials of my life/trade/living, means the collection of glass, tools, samples, artworks, tests, leftovers and equipment, has required a process of sorting, clearing and removal.
The need to leave facilitated a self-questioning and ‘why do I kept things for so long’. As I starting the process of clearing I understood the capacity for random objects to spark a memory of a time, a conversation, an event. How can I remove and throw away these things without remorse - abstract remnants, objects, stuff – all imbued with a life and a moment in time I believed I needed to keep.
Archive as an Art Project, begun in 2016, started as a process of clearing, yet life, projects, exhibitions, events get in the way so the process must necessarily stop and start from time to time. At least I was able to clear enough space to have access to wall space, a clear space to project thoughts, resolve issues and aesthetically develop new ideas.
As my focus must turn towards the removal of items, materials and objects I have decided to create artworks by re-melting, recycling and re-making works I have in the studio. Making new out of old - returning, unused, unsold items are unpacked and repurposed – to bring into clear contrast my investigations into the nostalgia of things.
Notions of home, place, culture, identity can be approached through investigations of self so as to find a sense of identity through the objects ‘left on the shelf’. The presentation and destruction of that which is precious allows an investigation into why an object, material, experience is of particular importance. Is it the retained memory or is it the object itself that is of significance? Then, once the memory is acknowledged, is the object still of import? The process of unpacking, rethinking, rewriting, recording and a re-making is central to the development of this new body of work. It is the action that connects to a time past. And the object can go beyond language, cultural differences and be imbued with a set of expectations of what life is or was meant to be.
Collecting and storing has for me created a sense of safety, as I cocoon myself in thickened walls of stuff, samples, materials, the unsold, objects, books, records and projects managed. This has created an innate sense of safety, a protective shell made of things, useful, available, accessible, to make a place of permanence and relevance. So now relook and start making and creating, using and disposing of the impermanent permanently.
B. Jane Cowie