Beads salvaged from Soul of the Sea. Even the most of the snippets of thread go in my scrapjar as future stuffing.
Bulky old unsold works of art, no matter how beloved, are a millstone. I don't want to keep putting them out to galleries because there's always new works I want to show. Keeping them in storage is inconvenient and expensive.
Thus one of the most effective cures for the persistant existential angst plaguing me this spring has been deconstructing pieces that for whatever reason have passed their used by dates. It is extremely satisfying to be actively engaged with the materials, solving logistical problems and clearing the decks for new creativity. I am determined to salvage as much as possible for reuse.
Being gentle to the planet is a central concern in everything I do, not least in my art practice. Deconstructing my work is giving me fresh insights into how I can improve my art footprint in the next pieces I make. I am most pleased with my latest dismantlement which resulted in only a handful of gluey threads and some sticky tape from the packaging going to landfill. Every thing else from the work itself, the hanging hardware, and the packaging will be reused.
My latest act of deconstruction is a piece with an illustrious history. It started its life as New Shroud for King Tutankhamun and was selected as a finalist in the NZ Art Guild Art Award in January 2008. It went from that exhibition straight into storage while I set off on my Australian adventure. Later that year when I set up my Etsy shop I renamed the piece Soul of the Sea and it continues to be my Etsy item most frequently selected for Treasuries. So often has it appeared in various mermaid-themed collections that I became quite blase. Last year I touted the piece around a couple of local galleries and Soul of the Sea enjoyed a few months in a prominent postition in the Thornton Gallery, then went back into storage.
Soul of the Sea brought back the happy memories I had of every stage of its original making: hand painting offcuts of water colour paper, diecutting them with my daughter on the Chandler Price press, pricking the holes, stitching the circles together with beads and finally building the elaborate packaging that has kept this fragile piece perfectly intact through its travels.
Inside the packaging I made out of cardboard from windscreen boxes, masses of bubble wrap and duct tape
As a finished object I was pleased that it was so well liked: as a finalist, as a Treasury frequent flyer, inviting much attention in the gallery. But I also was mostly frustrated that it never sold and so had to continue to be stored. If I had a big enough house I would have happily hung it in my living space. If I was close to anyone with enough wallspace I might have given it away. But now instead I am all afire with new enthusiasm to be beginning again with stitching the circles.
This time I will make an edition of smaller Soul of the Seas, that are mounted on a rigid backboard and can be easily and affordably posted overseas. It will be so much easier to spread the love of the original piece in affordable and postable packages. And I get to do a whole lot more pleasurable making without having to buy any new materials!