Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Of no fixed abode

What a journey is has been, preparing for my first solo show. I hardly know where to begin. I didn't want to put pics up etc before the exhibition opened because it's easy to become de-sensitized i think but the counter side of that is that now there is a lot to tell.

First, here is the press release from the exhibition.

For most of us our notions of home are of the secure, fixed sanctuary that acts as the base for our everyday lives, both physically and emotionally. We often have a clear image of its function, which extends to its construction: the memorable intricacies and peculiar facts about the physical building. Do we take home for granted? What if it wasn’t so permanent?

‘Of no fixed abode’ presents a selection of work by artist Fiona Hughes, who has been artist-in-residence at the Royal Masonic School for Girls, Rickmansworth. With that coming to an end in August, this exhibition acts as a conclusion to her two year working residency. Rather than each work existing independently, ‘Of no fixed abode’ shows them working together as an exchange of ideas or shades of the same story. Divided into three areas, the first and largest greets us with a line of tiny wax bricks. Hollow and individually handmade, each brick is fragile and susceptible. They draw a fragmented landscape (we only see parts of buildings, nothing complete or whole) that is so familiar it could be anywhere but in that skyline. The lines echo those of the sketches of abandoned buildings, drawn with tape. Cardboard castings of bricks build the corner of an unseen room, and castings of the inside of boxes themselves lay out the beginnings of a floor plan of another. Perhaps the most dominating aspect to the room is the facade of a brown paper boxes. Here, Hughes has constructed an adult-sized Wendy house within the gallery from the same materials that we pack up our homes into when the time comes to move on. The empty, simplified boxes of different shapes and sizes become the very bricks that build the notional stability of the home. But instead of being comforting and secure, the walls feel strangely oppressive and at the same time temporary. In the last space sits a series of houses, partly constructed/destroyed. One fits within the next, describing a sequence of homes, each built upon the previous.

Hughes’ life has been a series of moves. Although born in the UK, at six weeks old her family flew back to Indonesia where her parents had been up until the birth. Her biography traces frequent moves between villages and towns, between Indonesia and the UK. Significantly at the age of 13 her family were evacuated from their town due to an outbreak of war; their then home was burnt down in the fighting. Now living and working in the UK, Hughes has been deeply influenced by her unconventional ideas about home. For her the experience of home has usually been temporary, a times constantly living out of boxes, where the boxes become more of at home than the building that they are in.

Tim Stock, 2010

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