Interview | Whitney McVeigh Kettle's Yard, 2015
Why did you decide to create an installation for St.Peter’s church?
Andrew Nairne and I have discussed the idea of an installation in the church for some time. When we talked it through we realized the parallels and a possible dialogue with my work and Kettle’s Yard as a home.
What was the experience like of working in St.Peter’s church and how have you responded to the space?
On entering the 11th century church, it’s difficult not to be affected by its scale and simplicity. I recently finished making a film and was glad to return to the studio to create a piece that included drawings and objects. I worked with a sense of the place’s history. The church font dates back to the 12th century and forms part of the conversation. I’m hoping the combined histories of objects and the space embody a sense of time and human imprint.
Your work addresses themes of memory. Do you imagine it will speak to people about their own memories?
One hopes that a dialogue will take place and that the objects will trigger an association. As an artist it’s about communicating and accessing something but it depends on what the viewers bring of themselves. Last week there was a geologist in the space and the hand written poem by A. E. Housman reminded him of Bredon Hill. He was moved by the connection, which in turn became a story and he shared his knowledge of the land. As humans we are often searching for meaning and connection. Everything in the installation is open and in some way could trigger memory.
Why did you decide to bring a chair from the Kettle’s Yard house into the church?
Andrew and I talked about this. Jim Ede believed in a dialogue between the viewer and objects he arranged in his home. By placing a chair in the church one is opening up a conversation between the objects and domestic in a sacred space just as Jim Ede believed in the sacred in the everyday. By sitting in the chair, you are invited to become part of the narrative in a sense.
Is your work in dialogue with the Kettle's Yard house and Jim Ede's way of displaying natural objects and artworks?
My work relates to the home and is an arrangement of drawings and objects that are in relationship to one another so in this sense yes. The combined display of unnamed objects and images is reminiscent of Jim Ede’s philosophy.
The objects collected over many years are from different countries I’ve travelled to. The wooden part of the boat I found in the North West of Scotland 25 years ago. It’s come to every home and more recently I brought it back to the studio. It felt necessary to hold on to this. Sometimes there’s a desire to understand what it is to have lived before and the wood, with it’s bent nails and frayed body tells its own story. It’s about tracing an echo of time and human history and allowing the object to be itself.
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