basementblogs


Final Piece
October 5, 2010, 9:31 pm
Filed under: BLOGS, Emilie Collins

Photography: Paul Avis

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Hair Collection
September 24, 2010, 4:16 am
Filed under: BLOGS, Emilie Collins



‘ A matter out of place ‘
September 24, 2010, 2:22 am
Filed under: BLOGS, Emilie Collins

1) ” The title comes from anthropologist Mary Douglas’ assertion that dirt, when understood as ‘matter out of place’ simultaneously implies both the existence and the contravention of an established order or system and that this in turn establishes dirt as symbolic. Further, Phyllis Palmer has written that dirt is ‘ a principal means to arrange culture ‘ “

Hair has through times and cultures bore many usages and significations. From the intricate hair styles in so called ‘primitive’ civilizations, the elaborate wigs of the XVII th and XVIII th century, the Victorian 2) Memento Mori hair art to the use of hair in contemporary art and encompassing the symbolic value of hair in the collective unconscious ; hair as a social institution never ceases to both fascinate and repel.

Viewed as a powerful seductive asset when attached to the body, hair becomes assimilated to dirt once separated from it. It is its ambivalence between the universal and the intimate which first drew me to use it for the ‘ Down in the Basement ‘ project.

As mentioned previously, my current work mainly revolves around the form of site specific art, basing itself on a first reaction or thought regarding a given place. Milkwood’s basement provided me with matter to work upon, as it is at the same time cold, damp and at times creepy, reminiscent of childhood fears or anxieties similar to that of being afraid of the dark, whilst being situated under Roath’s friendly, community orientated gallery. It was this ambiguity which I chose to play with, bearing in mind the idea of creating a piece of work that would evoke and provoke various issues and emotions in the viewer.

The short introduction above established the ambiguity of hair in the collective unconscious, fallen hair which troubles the viewer because of its association with dirt – specifically hair that comes from an ‘other’ – but equally as it throws back the viewer to its own mortality and absurdity, its evocative power suggesting at the same time the presence and absence of a body.

I chose to collect hair from a local hairdresser, from friends and included my own to incorporate it into a rug found in a local charity shop, needle felting it by hand following a simple pattern made of circles. In my mind, the act of recuperating and modifying a found object would tie in with the spirit of the gallery which offers vintage and hand made items, often based on ‘recycled’ materials. At first glance, the rug appears to be an everyday object, devoid of any other signification, until it is looked at more closely. I wanted there to be an element of surprise, shock or bemusement once the viewer realized what had been used in the rug. The pictures on the wall would add to the theme of this presence and absence of the body, only enhanced by the use of black and white which can itself play with the idea of mortality, as black and white pictures may be evocative of a time long gone.

I also wanted for the viewer to physically interact with the installation by inviting them to walk onto the rug barefoot, experiencing the feeling of hair in the hope of yet again provoking in them conflicting feelings. The idea of the hair becoming part of a functional object rather than an ornament in the vein of Victorian Memento Mori also appealed to me as well as associating an object assimilated with cleaning to ‘dirty’ fallen hair.

1) Wical, Carol. “Matter Out of Place: Reading Dirty Women.” M/C Journal 9.5 (2006). 24 Sep. 2010 <http://journal.media-culture.org.au/0610/10-wical.php

2) ‘ Remember you will die ‘ or ‘Remember your mortality’, latin



‘ Down In the Basement ‘
September 5, 2010, 7:26 pm
Filed under: Emilie Collins

As an artist currently interested in the field of site specific art, residencies strongly appeal to me as they involve an engagement with a given space, culminating in a response which can take many forms. The whole appeal of site specific art to me is the unpredictability of the result, each artist responding to a place in their own way, developing their own train of thoughts and possibly revealing or highlighting something different about a place, or raising an unusual or unspoken issue.

I tend to base my ideas upon a direct reaction to a place pushed further by research and experimentation, usually going with my first thoughts or feelings, which, more often than not, prove themselves to be the most effective.

A previous residency took place in the botanical glass house in Roath Park, where I suspended an average of one hundred and ten glass beads from the plants throughout the place. The work raised concerns with the preservation of natural resources as the conservatory is a place where many people go to observe tropical plants that are subjected to extinction. It was inspired by water, our most precious resource, which is abundant in the tropical forest under the form of rain and used abundantly in the conservatory to nourish the flora.

Working in such an overwhelming place as the conservatory called for a subtle intervention. By creating raindrop shaped glass beads and suspending them to the plants, my aim was to create such a piece as an intervention which would encourage the public to ponder/reflect upon the preservation of natural resources – whether water, plants, etc…- as tiny drops would condensate upon this ‘static rain’ of glass beads.

‘ Down in the Basement’ conjures up images of a creature or spirit lurking in the shadows as the basement; as a generic term in the collective unconscious; bears strong connotations to childhood fears or anxieties. True to form, The Basement in Milkwood is an ambiguous place as it is at the same time located under Roath’s friendly, community orientated gallery whilst being cold, damp and seemingly cut from the exterior world.

My aim is to create a piece of work that will follow and enhance this ambiguity to make the viewer both amused and uncomfortable whilst raising questions about our relationship to fallen hair, ‘ others ‘ as well as the value and function of everyday objects.

Many thanks to Sands Hairdressing & Beauty for their help

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A new project for September…
August 30, 2010, 3:59 pm
Filed under: Emilie Collins

The Proposal: ‘ Down in the Basement ‘

“One of my main aims for this residency would be to create a piece of work engaging the community by producing a site-specific installation.

The basement itself, as a generic term, is a place with strong connotations to childhood fears or anxieties, which I would like to play with.

By combining the two above components, my proposal is as follows:

Collecting hair from local hairdressers and from friends, I would create a carpet of hair either felting the hair into a ‘found’ carpet or by making it myself.

Viewers would be encouraged to engage with the carpet by walking onto it barefoot. Pictures of the people having participated would also be stuck onto the wall, allowing the viewer to see, and even possibly recognize, the participants they are walking upon.

The piece would draw parallels with the Victorian hair art, also known as Memento Mori (‘Remember you will die’) along with playing with the psychological associations associated with fallen air. Fallen hair being evocative of the presence and absence of the body, this uncanny feeling would only be reinforced by the pictures which can also be considered, in a certain way, as a proof of presence and absence of life.”

Emilie Collins

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