Installation 2

Before the Inner Courtyard installation was complete I’d already started making forays into the Long Gallery, erecting the large borrowed round table and ten of the twelve tables from The Manifestation, to have a sense of how the two spaces will interact work. This would be the first time an installation had appeared in this space. My own anxiety about its proximity to the ‘front of house’ desk and gift shop forced me to question the applicability of the table as a visual reference here. Would visitors think they were walking into the café, which was actually located through the back door at the far end? Yet wasn’t this potential link and confusion something I’d always intended? Forty Hall is a heritage building with a long winding guided journey through the various rooms. The visitor’s journey ideally concludes at the Inner Courtyard, the Long Gallery, the Gift Shop and the Courtyard Café, so my two installations will be encountered en route. But this is why I’m here – as a first contemporary art commission – and why The Magpie has become, from my perspective, a residency, where the static works can change and develop over the twelve weeks of the show, and other rooms can be occupied. Likewise, the film is also in transition. The film. Yes. What is its status and how will it be incorporated?

Forty film

In the rush to incorporate the fabric flowing footage there is now a narrative in which I become the emerging ‘resident’ who lets fly from top floor windows and makes a brief appearance in Beijing’s Purple Bamboo Park. As a resident, I have permission to behave with the freedom and desire that occupation brings. The term ‘legal squatter’ has a flavour of this, but there is more mischief here. I live here when I am here in a way that I’ve not experienced before. My rights are as strong as the birds on the roof. This is my patch, free to open doors, windows and shutters slowly and repeatedly, free to experience and live in this building with a heightened perception and a unique sense of ownership that transcends assets and cash. The ‘wealthy haberdasher’ who financed this home has morphed into the maverick haberdasher/magpie/squatter. I am of the people for the people. Come in and make yourself at home like I have. Join me. It’s an investment opportunity. Let me show you around.

The film’s rough first edit suggests this narrative, framed by the birds as roof occupants. I think about projector or monitor to show it and envisage a monitor in the Long Gallery, perhaps in the corner to the right as you enter, slightly detached from the tables. If indeed they are still tables, now that their functionality is even more questionable as the starched tablecloths are moving into three-dimensional elevated clusters of whiteness. These ten tables are now mere supports and dwarfed by the large central table, reassuringly flat and functional, with its complex table settings and flying cutlery, referencing the miniature world in the display case next door. Unable to loan a white cover, the blue one provided by Banqueting will substitute for now, but needs a starched white tablecloth as a surface. it looks designed for purpose once the straight creases have been ironed out of it. This steam ironing session takes place as a separate project on the Friday. I travel in with iron and ironing board, set up in the Long Gallery and spend an hour flattening this one and sharpening the creases on the others. Wrestling and manipulating these cotton fabrics sits so well within the realm of haberdashery and I wonder why this comes as a surprise. Have I been resisting this full immersion, despite my time as a duplicator?

Forty adjusted 1

 

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