I have been so excited about this project. I had been working on ideas about control… How things can either control us or alternatively we can take control. Food, time and responsibilities, money, others expectations of us or our perception of that expectation, our emotions. When in control we are positive and confident but as soon as we loose control we can become anxious and depressed… There is such a fine line between the two.
Circles represent control very well, continuous endless cycles.
Whilst developing theses ideas about control and working on my samples for the new materials section, an opportunity arose that I felt I had to take. OVADA were looking for applications from artists to exhibit as part of Oxfords light night. I took the tour of the space that would be used for the exhibition. The work needed to be site specific and during the tour I was very taken with the court room, the history was palpable.
Coming back from the tour I could see similarities with my control ideas. Courts control populations and individuals but within courts there is a constant turnaround of court cases, an endless repetition of similar cases.
I spent some time online researching news archives for court cases heard in that court room. I paid for 3 days access to The British News Archives I looked for references to court cases in Oxford after 1897 which is when the present town hall was opened. I then looked for cases within the month of November as this is when the exhibition will be held. I wanted to directly reference actual cases that happened almost exactly to the day. The British News Archive don’t currently have digital copies for 1913 which would have been exactly 100 years so I looked at a copy of the Oxford Journal dated 24th November 1900.
On page 2 of the paper is a listing of 12 cases heard at Oxford City Court:
- 3 drunk and disorderly cases
- Letting of fireworks in the street
- Obstruction of a lane with a horse and fish cart
- Allowing a chimney to catch fire
- Assaulting wife and knocking her tooth out
- Begging in the street but beggar claimed to be selling shoe laces
- Maintenance arrears
- Cruelty to a horse
- Cruelty to a cat
- Assisting a theft
Having created some samples using concrete I realised that items could be embedded within it. I liked this idea as it creates a sense of past, like archeology the items can be uncovered but also they could be sinking giving the sense of time past or time passing. Almost forgotten but rediscovered.
Using these two ideas I wanted to embed items directly relating to each of the 12 cases, for example broken glass for the drunk and disorderly, shoelaces for the begging incident etc.
Creating the resin lids adds a preciousness, giving the items a museum like quality. We have to look through it to see what is there. The fibre optic cable creates the circlular imagery binding each case together and continuing the endless cycle of cases.
Although this piece is not yet complete as it is going to be exhibited on 22nd November, I am really pleased with the ideas and the concepts. I am excited by the potential and would like to go back and explore my original idea of control.