‘And When I’m a Man’ which is basically a life-size version of myself as a 12 piece, pre-assembly, model kit will be hanging on the gallery’s office wall for the duration of the show.
As well as being a self-portrait, the piece engages with my interest in nostalgia and childhood perceptions of adulthood (and the role that toys play in this). One important aspect of the piece is its colour. When constructing the sculpture I tried to find the same colour as the green plastic soldiers that he used to play with as a child. But rather than go back and find examples of these toys to get an accurate match, I chose a colour that matched my memory of it – recognising that the passage of time would have altered and exaggerated the memory and produced something far more lurid.
And When I’m a Man was produced in 1998 but apart from appearing in a couple of small shows around that time and a brief appearance in the film Scratch directed by Jakob Rørvik, it has sat in storage at Candid Arts in Islington – until now that is.
I created ‘Book Tower II (Nostalgia For a Childhood That Wasn’t Mine)’ (also see Book Tower) last year for a show at a gallery in Redchurch Street, East London. Although I was wasn’t 100% happy with its proportions and thought it looked a bit stubby, so last week I added two more books to raise it to just the right height. So the image you see here is slightly different than the one you will see in the gallery from Thursday onwards.
Apart from the base section, none of the books are glued together – instead they all have cut away sections and are then slotted together. The construction process for the piece started of relatively straight forward enough. However, as the piece grew and got taller the construction processes dictated that the structure had to be regularly dismantled and reassembled in order to enable the addition of more sections. And the bigger it got the more difficult it got to remember how everything fitted together – especially since all the dust covers had to be removed and then cut to size and reapplied at the final stage.
Out of all of my sculptures ‘Magnet’ has had one of the most interesting lives so far. Originally titled Toy Tower it was changed to Magnet after its first showing when it became evident that its powers of attraction seemed to work on children and adults in equal measure. On the first day of Magnet’s first exhibition the person invigilating told me that they had looked over to where my sculpture should have been, only to find that it had disappeared. Apparently four little boys had managed to sneak the piece out into the street before being chased off by the invigilator, who wheeled the sculpture back into the gallery again.
Although originally constructed quite some time ago Magnet has had to be rebuilt several times as, over the years, the temptations of numerous collectors and souvenir hunters have obviously got the better of them. After almost every show I would find that pieces of the sculpture were missing. But as the toys in the sculpture date from the 60's to present day it's probably not that surprising. I sometimes wonder though, whether renaming it Magnet was just tempting fate.
States of Reverie
13 January – 20 February 2011
Scream gallery, 34 Bruton Street, London W1J 6QX
+ 44 (0) 20 7493 7388
Opening times: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm; Sat-Sun 11am-5pm