Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Walls Are Talking.

Wallpaper, often discredited as a 'kitsch' and 'unsophisticated' artform, is out of the closet. It perhaps is not even described by most as Art, but rather taken for granted within our everyday backdrop. Yes, ofcourse many a home owner would agree, that much deliberation is taken over choosing just the right pattern for ones home, however even in the home, wallpaper is becoming obsolete and sees its place within the more contemporary environment of the club, bar or restaurant.
Not only can wallpaper be viewed as a decorative feature, but as a representation of a variety of compelling themes: the dark side of the home, domesticity, repetition, symmetry, sexuality, imprisonment etc.
Some thoughts...
Subversion, patterns can make a recognisable image ambiguous in a way that can be playful and disturbing. How can the familiar be made unfamiliar by using juxtaposition and surprising composition?For example, what secrets does the everyday item hold (surrealism) I want to explore ideas of childhood fears and the exploration of how everyday objects can be transformed by the darkness and exploring the mind of a child, who often has freedom from rationale. I enjoyed Francesco Simeti's, Nursery wallpaper, in Victorian times wallpaper was used to teached children valuable lessons. In terms of subversion, would the juxtaposition of childlike imagery become sinister when trying to teach some of life's modern lessons? What would the nursery wallpaper of today look like? Francesco Simeti, Arabian Nights. In Arabian Nights Simeti uses mass media images of weapons, rubble, bombings, and explosions, which then become camouflaged within pleasant decorative wallpaper motifs, altering their original meaning. This raises awareness of the ambiguity of mass media, and the way things are portrayed. Do we teach the children of today lessons in combat?Our surroundings have become so saturated with violence, that it now ceases to effect us, the more we see, the less we are affected.Is television the new wallpaper?
Domestic violence or Good Design?
Abigail Lane comments on this idea of oversaturation, with her 'Bloody Wallpaper', Red marks appear on a white background, which are clearly the result of a violent struggle, Can violence be beautiful?And if so, is it right to use it to decorate? So desensitised are we that when murder is plainly displayed infront of our eyes it fails to shock, Should a new approach be taken , instead of throwing ideas in peoples faces, should we urge them to look harder to reveal the truth with subtle detail and intrigue.
Catherine Bertola, beyond the looking glass, this paper was displayed in a room of its own, and is first seen from a restricted viewpoint, inside the room wallpaper is peeling off the wall and decaying. I like the idea of physically looking behind the wallpaper, just like when you strip wallpaper when you move home, revealing layers upon layers of peoples individual tastes, reflective of different times, eras etc. it is almost eerie to think what has gone before, that we are just borrowers of time and space, that 'owning' a house is only temporary, people have gone before and will follow us after. It would be interesting to analyse a period of time, and explore; Changing attitudes, Values, Styles, Tastes, thoughts, feelings etc. To explore the story behind a building, is wallpaper the new cave drawing? with so many new builds appearing, the experience of living in someone elses shoes is not quite so intense. If the walls actually could talk, what would they say? from `victorian play rooms' to 'student dwellings', wallpaper absorbs and reflect a journey through time.
Sexuality.
Could wallpaper represent a change in sexual attitudes. Society today appear so promiscuous, it is no longer indecent for a woman to be as sexually liberated as a man, But has the sexual liberation gone too far?For both sexes. Is is the fault of an over-saturation of the topic, that provokes us to keep asking for more? Once it was the sole aim in a young woman's life to get married, now it's all up for grabs; marriage, career, children, sex, social life, disposable income...does the traditional marriage no longer appeal to the modern day man or woman. The way our lives are structured, is it still realistic to ask for a lifetime of monogamy?With peoples expectations so high, should the structure of our lifetime be modified?Treated as a series of events or chapters, would this prevent the feeling of imprisonment that some feel in later life?How could the transition from traditional to modern attitudes be shown.
A note must be made about Damien Hirst's, Pharmacy, from afar his paper is seen as a beautiful pattern, and changes with each frame of reference, On closer inspection the wallpaper displays cocktail of medication, grouped with captions from biblical reference, perhaps the ultimate combination of old and new, How can the transition into the modern world be represented within my own work? Lisa Hecht, Chain link fence. Hecht has shown literal imprisonment with her paper, the exhibition states that often our homes are points of comfort and calming, however for many the home can be a prison, peopled trapped within their own lives. I am interested in the exploration of how a pattern picked post honeymoon, could stay in a house for over 50 years, what once represented happiness, could now remind of time past and lost, or a reminder of ones own confinement.I am fasicnated by the journey of peoples lives, and how they got to be how/where and who they are. You meet people in their present, and it is only after peeling back the exterior that you find out their past and maybe become part of their future.
Just as over time our attitudes change towards people, so do they about our surroundings. Some people are moving and constantly changing their environments, whilst many have perhaps lived in the same surroundings since childhood. Some strive for the wallpaper of life to be ever-changing whilst others may never re-decorate, clinging onto familiarity and nostalgia.
As a designer it is a generalisation that we have an eye for detail and perhaps notice certain things which others may not, however not long ago my dad was questioning whether or not to re-decorate the hallway. I havn't lived there for two ears, but visit occasionally, I replied with 'No, I like that green and gold wallpaper" he then said the wall has been a varying shade of cream for four years. Observant? I think not. But perhaps for me the image of my house has been frozen within a space of time, perhaps when I was happiest there. The way I want to remember it has been crystallised in my memory. How will I feel abut the house in ten year?WIs it possible to represent and preserve memories within wallpaper, wallpaper as a journal or photo album perhaps. What if we put these trapped memories back into their original context?Does this modify our memory or simply enhance?
When young it seems as though one moves with the times, fresh and cutting edge, at what point (hopefully never) do we 'stand still', become fixed, and gradually notice the world passing us by.
NM
Other artists featured in the exhibition include Andy Warhol, Sonia Boyce, David Shrigley and Peter Saville

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