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School of Creative Arts, Department of Art and Design
Library Book Project
University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
12th January - 28th February 2009
Using a contemporary archaeological approach, my work explores the everyday together with the ambiguity of re-presenting found or discarded items as works of art suitable for display in an art gallery or museum setting.
In February 2000 I began collecting items and personal data that users at the Worcester University library had left behind in the books they had borrowed, often as bookmarks or other reminders. During weekly visits to the library between 2001-2004, I began to collect and store these items and to record the book, author, chapter, page number, ISBN number and subject category. I then re-presented my findings using a unary numeral system with tally sticks and other early mathematical devices in small boxes, once used for storing small engineering tools.
Using numeric tables and other forms of measurement, I was able to make comparisons between the types of items found in different subject categories and to identify any emerging patterns and trends. I also photographed some of the objects uncovered and documented them in a small concertina bound book format and individual text pieces were held together in a ring box.
During my studies I also kept a diary record of the dates of my visits to the library on a small wooden tablet and used different coloured inks to indicate days when there had been a significant find. Some days I found very little, other days I found parking tickets, receipts, taxi cards and other items that had come easily to hand to the person reading the book. However on other days, I found small intimate items, rarely of any financial worth or worldly significance but enough to give me some insight into the type of person who had borrowed the book, as revealed through their interests, habits, behaviours and the type of books they read.
At one point I decided to broaden my research to include items that had been left behind in the library itself and recorded in the Lost Property archive. It listed dressing gowns, shoes, walkmans, car keys, house keys, miscellaneous household and other personal items. Although this could have made an interesting addition to my study, I decided not to pursue it at this stage as they were items of a seemingly less personal nature.
I have continued to use found data as a starting point for my work since then. In 2006 I worked with archaeologists and other artists at Croome Park Worcestershire which is currently being restored by the National Trust. During 2009 I will be working at Worcester Cathedral as artist-in-residence where I hope to draw on different aspects of cathedral life, including visitors and users of the space, the church calendar, events and it’s systems and structures.