Private View: 8th May 6-8 pm.
Exhibition: 9th-20th May.
Venue: Participate Contemporary Artspace, CLC, Riverside Mall, Shrewsbury.
With an additional display about the exhibition at the Shropshire Regimental Museum 4th-18th May.
My intention with this project is to focus my interest in examining the extra-ordinary lives of ‘things’ by looking at a selection of objects from the First World War. We cannot live without things. They provide a comfort and a familiar presence. Objects are integral to our domestic lives and they make us feel the uncanny. They are custodians of memories and past events. My aim is to examine how current generations relate to and perceive objects from the First World War and question whether these objects can provoke thought about the lives of people who lived a century ago.
My exhibition is linked to a local project which has been funded by the National Lottery called History Makers. This project aims to find evidence of what happened to ordinary people during the First World War and to produce a digital community archive and travelling exhibition. For the project, school children from the Mary Webb School have been interviewing people who own objects from the First World War and I’ve also visited them to photograph their objects. I have created a series of paintings based of some of the objects I encountered on these visits.
Shropshire Regimental Museum
The video piece is based on five interviews carried out with staff and wardens at the Shropshire Regimental Museum. I asked a number of staff and wardens to pick an object each from the museum’s collection to talk to me about. I responded to these interviews in the only way I know: art. I took photographs, I made paintings, I made videos and I made clay replicas of the objects. The video, as well as telling the stories of the objects and bringing them to life with reference to contemporary objects, reflects my need to respond through art.
What relevance do these things have today?
I also asked members of the public to visit the Shropshire Regimental Museum and respond to the five objects which feature in the video. The words on display come from those people. The aim is to see if current generations can feel a ‘trace’ of past lives embedded in objects on three levels: from the original owners of the objects, through the second-hand telling of the stories about the objects, and through the ‘trace’ left by my response through art.
The clay objects on display are for people to touch. They aren’t works of beauty only to be seen. I hope that this ‘trace’ held within objects can be picked up by people through the sense of touch as well as sight.
Rebecca Collins, May 2015