Part of the creatives role is to breathe life into the the mundane, the forgotten and the overlooked. Sometimes we just have to look and seek a little closer to uncover what might be hiding.
Philosopher Alfred North Whiteheads accounts that designing novelty is always the creation of new contrasts but also the “transformation of a given opposition into a new contrast – thereby opening up and entering the space between creating and expressing interest -is the mark of creativity-in-action” Steven Meyer
Artist Susan collins in her practise reflects these ideas .She resuscitates the mundane through camouflaging highly refined craftsmanship and expensive materiality into everyday objects challenging norms. By masking the mundane through cleaver materials she comments on issues associated with interpretation, labour and value. Once audiences reach their epiphanies (if they ever do) they find the hidden meanings really obvious, much like when you find Wheres Wally in the children illustration look and it becomes so insanely clear he was there the whole entire time! Similarly to reading Where’s Wally, her work also encourages viewers to re-look, re evaluate, and become sensitised to everyday experiences.
In her installation ‘Paint Job’ , what first appears to be the neglected aftermath of spattered and stained objects from a previous show, are put on display. Their placement looks accidental and unworthy to be examined. However, upon closer inspection, we find that is not the case. Her work ‘100% cotton’ reflects this point. It consists of used overalls hung up casually with what appears to be a spatters of paint. However! It is in fact hand embroidered needle work which would have taken hours! Its placement on something mundane heightens its ability to be overlooked raising issues on interpretation due to its ‘hidden labour’ and ‘value’ . Existing perceptions are challenged leaving a more sensitive and open outlook. Overall , (pun intended) , the poetry in this work lies in the contrast of meaningless with the valued, allowing us to question where we place our value and heighten our awareness of everyday objects.
Similarly her work Waltzer Wooden Broom also challenges viewers perceptions. Disguised paint splats at a closer look are inlays made from mother of pearl , opals, turquoise, seed pearls, black diamonds, white diamonds and garnets. Not exactally the cheapest of materials…Again she camouflages the ‘precious’ into the ‘worthless’ to increase our awareness to the everyday through challenging our traditional norms. In both these works by masking the mundane with delicate work, existing perceptions are challenged and we are left with a more sensitive outlook.
However, It is up to us, as the viewer to become more aware of what is hidden and seek for more. If not it would remain hidden. Audiences are often shocked by collis work. “I’m happy when viewers approach me to inquire where the work is or if it’s on display yet,” says Seventeen director Dave Hoyland. It is this response that is the core of Collie art.
Simmarly Artist Ai Wei Wei also plays with our perceptions through the use of disguise, materiality and time-consuming labour. Being a Chinese contemporary artist and having lived through the strictness of the cultural revolution his work comments negatively of their leadership of Mao and the communist part. In his work Turbine hall, 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds cover 1000 square meters of floor to a depth of 10cm. At first these appear to be normal edible seeds, yet upon closer inspection audience are shocked to realise they are a solid objects. Each seed has been individually hand created and painted by traditional porcelain experts in the chinese city Jingdezhen! Our perceptions are shifted and sensitised as we become more open to possibilities and the hidden values of labour much like Collins work.
A video of the production work and artist take can be found here. You an also read curators views from Tate modern here Also please appreciate the photo of Ai Wei Wei looking bemused with his flying seeds.Art/objects can also use metaphors to enhance the meaning of the work. The Sunflower seeds are a direct metaphor to the people in china . The “sun” represents Mao (Historic communist leader). As sunflower seeds can only grow and live with accordance to the sun, the people of china don’t have a choice but live under his influence. The placement of the seeds on the floor symbolises the government and how they walk over them. The unified appearance also reflects ‘communism’ and how everyone is viewed the same. Through this work we also learn how the contrast between ideas can be linked metaphorically to enhance and challenge perceptions. So if your a creative out there, take action to your creativity and seek a little more. What new contrasts and transformations can you bring into the mundane? Challenge your perceptions and allow a more sensitised experience of the world. Life is too short for hiding in the comfortable