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HOMER ­–– HEPHAESTUS

Vinyl text work for corridor space at Storey Institute, Lancaster, dimensions variable, 2011.

This work was commissioned by an art gallery and a literary festival (Lancaster’s Storey Gallery and Litfest) for the corridor space that links the two organisations. The text work has for its starting point the idea of ekphrasis ­– or the translation of visual art into literature. The two large words in vinyl text, ‘HOMER ­–– HEPHAESTUS’,  are an ‘art work’ by a fictional artist, the late Alec Masterson Forbes, and this art work is ‘explained’ by an equally fictional ‘gallery text’ next to it. This institutional text is in turn ‘notated’ by a disturbing figure called Derek Wilkinson, the fictional vinyl lettering technician who has installed the work on the corridor walls. Wilkinson seems to be using his notes to re-write the legacy of Masterson Forbes in order to aggrandise Wilkinson himself – he may even have had a role in the artist’s death. It is probable that Wilkinson has entirely invented the Masterson Forbes art work and its gallery text, and killed the artist to boot, to secure himself a place in the cultural spotlight if only for a moment. Wilkinson’s notes overrun the space, spiralling up and around the classical architecture of the Storey Institute corridor, turning the discrete conceptualism of Masterson Forbes into a display of expanded confabulation gone entirely round the bend.

Transcription of the full text is here.

The Storey G2 website. 2013 article about the work.

Suzanne Heath (Public Art Network blog). 13/4/2011 article about the work.

 


There Are Two Paths documentation still

There Are Two Paths

Two-part performance installation work for purpose built stage and two five piece bands, 40 mins each performance, 2003.

Two groups of musicians alternating two verses from ‘Stairway to Heaven’. The verses are played by one band, then repeated by the other band but played and sung backwards. Then the verses are played forwards again … and so on. The ‘Satanic’ phonetic accidents of the reversed song make lines such as “there is power in Satan” audible. Following the initial performance of the piece in the Shropshire countryside, the work was next performed in a Birmingham city centre square (this video cuts between the two performances). The popular myths of guitarists selling their souls to the devil in order to play the blues like no-one else. The English need to obsess about a rural ideal to pretend that the selling of their souls to the ‘dark satanic mills’ of industrialisation never happened. Thanks to Nowhere Near the Garden, Sarah Wilson, John Smith, Mark Goodchild, Malcolm Garrett, Freddie Thomas, and Dave Lee. Commissioned by Meadow Gallery/Ikon Gallery.