Living on the turbulent edge of a perceived 'now', today's assumptions and decisions are based upon ghosts from our pasts. We are shaped and motivated by our experiences – regret, guilt, pain, love, wishes, promises . . . our memories are how we understand our lives. We are our memories. We fabricate a narrative to understand ourselves, navigating our lives with hand cupping ear to catch the fading echoes of yesterday's truth.
But memory is a tricky thing. Memories fade, change, or are lost over time – softened and smoothed as they recede into the past. We have forgotten more of our lives than we remember. Sometimes, we can almost remember . . . but what is it that we actually recall? “I remember that day . . .” or am I remembering a photo, or someone else's oft-told story, so familiar to me that I can picture it? And if we lose our memories through disease or injury, have we lost ourselves?
Echoes & Hauntings explores how memories affect who we are, even as they fade, or change, or disappear. My process has involved distance and uncertainty, like attempting to create truths in a darkened room. I am trying to articulate the hidden. These works can be seen as time-worn totems or talismans. Not depictions, but essences or interpretations. Not actually bone, or stone, only ghosts. Physical artifacts that are almost true.
Echoes & Hauntings is a continuation of my exploration of the effect of time on human memory, examining and explaining our experience of being alive. This journey originated with BREAK, a set of sculptural works that dealt with my mother’s recent death and my memories of her. Next came a series called Remembrance, exploring how loss and grief are softened and smoothed by the passage of time. One day, the memory is sharp and fresh, acute and it seems like it will never end. It does though, it does end.
Making these - the metal form is pounded, twisted, bent, smashed, torqued, wrestled, wrenched, hammered, beaten, coaxed, cut, folded, torn, riveted, and welded into shape.
There is no undoing a smashed metal tube or crumpled sheet-metal, the evidence of the action is impressed into its physical presence, and in this way the metal shows memory of the past. The metal is then covered in layers of torn paper and glue, which softens and smooths the form, encasing, blending, and preserving it.
The paper is ripped, torn, glued, layered, sanded, painted, sanded, painted, steel-wooled, shellacked, and a final steel-wooling.
The paper & glue creates a distance from the raw physicality of the making. There are monotonous days of sitting – applying strips of dipped-in-glue paper one by one. It is with feelings of amazement that I watch the paper skin slowly envelope the rough-scratchy metal and turn it into something that has never existed before.
I spend hours sanding and coloring; I touch every inch of this work multiple times. The surface is polished smooth and soft through frequent handling – like the effect of time upon memory. The touch of these is like polished wood.