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37 Steps

  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37… photo… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37… photo…

    What should art be about? Much as I love art about exotic places and imagination, I want to make art that relates to my life. And much of that life is spent pounding the pavement and corridors. To record this, I spent a day taking a photograph of the ground every 37 steps I took.

    The resulting images were in some ways as I expected, unframed and random, often slightly blurred, with a deadening repetition of grey pavement, tarmac roads and floor tiles. Welcome to my life. However, there were also some unexpected instances of beauty: a small pink petal mixed with the dust around cobblestones; an interesting pattern from the cracks in the paving slabs; the linear repetition of a series of stairs. All things I had not noticed in my quick jog through the day. I don’t take time to look at the texture of the tarmac; I just check for dog mess and carry on. Yet if I look on my daily grind as if I were on holiday; if I hadn’t dismissed it as dull; if its familiarity had not made me immune to it, I could find things of interest to enhance my day. Why don’t we look?

    The 37 steps comprises of two series of work: 37 pieces were developed from the original imagery, each one a small step in the overall scheme of things. Repeating elements, an alteration in scale and the change of materials work to highlight the brighter points in our daily life. Secondly, an installation of projected images onto a background of knitted and felted hangings of the same images. Layering image over image, reality blurs. As we march through life, our minds simply could not cope with processing everything we see, so the brain must tune out many things we abstractly see in passing. Does the brain retain something from it; like a grainy snapshot, quickly merging into another? Or does it decide not to remember anything, let alone the exact details of that spot on the pavement, even though the image has been seen daily?

    This work was developed whilst Gillian was craft practitioner in residence at Duncan of Jordanstone, Dundee in 2008 as part of a scheme funded by the Scottish Arts Council. Gillian would like to thank all the staff at Duncan of Jordanstone who helped her whilst she was there. She would also like to thank VSM UK for their kind sponsorship of a Pfaff sewing machine and Husqvarna embellisher.