To The Lighthouse (and back) (10 minutes, silent), shown at Newlyn Gallery (2002), Wild Dog (2004)
With an atmosphere of apparent timelessness, the silence and slow motion of the camera (the author/subject/gaze) moves across the tiny figures at Godrevy, passing a young child, and settling on the image of Virginia Woolf’s lighthouse.
My work tries to deal with the unrepresentable; experimenting with various notions of presence and absence. Most of my work is based around the female body, and re-representation of the maternal. Referencing Woolf’s work, the repetition of the lighthouse image is one of ‘Return’ – retourne to the past, the constant return to the mother, and the question of her Subjectivity, and entry into the symbolic.
In 2001 I clawed back a small space at the end of the garden of my tiny rented accommodation in St Ives to make a ‘room of my own’. The shed that I built was not a great studio. Small cold and lacking, its one great advantage was a fantastic view over to Godrevy and the lighthouse. It was mine, a place to escape childcare, housework, and domesticity. I began avidly re-reading the work of Virginia Woolf, and equating my lived experience with making art, a way of expressing my personal struggle to have a creative life in the face of every obstacle.
To the lighthouse (and back), was a video work that came from long hours of reflecting on feminist discourse, performativity, and video art practice, using the site to create a timeless scene from imagination. I was not trying to illustrate Woolfe’s book, which despite brilliant passages is not a favourite, merely allude to sited domestic associations with place, and the lived experience of time and repetition, with its potential for change.
Historical questions of the considered value of womens’ work and their confidence in making, creativity and making their voices heard (even in the early noughties).
Is it working? was an interim work documenting my shed (room of my own), over the course of a couple of months. (Installation shown as part of an AAS, We are Relentless, at the Custard Factory B’ham, 2003). One photo each day, with diary entries and an accompanying video. The ironic title was a way of dealing with questions about value and women making art. Every day the other male artists I knew in St Ives, went to their studios at Porthmoer and had the luxury of working all day, doing their important thing. I squeezed a few hours when I could around childcare, domestic duties and part-time work, Some days I only had time to take a photo. Could I claim that my work was important or even that it was art?
It also links to other projects involving synchronic time. I wrote of the project at the time:
‘Referencing Tching Tshieh style documentation, the question of the title enquires after this special space of the artist and the significance (or not!) attached to it in society. It is also a personal space, from which you can see Virginia Woolf’s lighthouse. For women what does it mean to ‘have a room of one’s own’ and how can documentation of this fact, with the personal of the written diary entries extrapolate meaning over time?’