Transient Retrieval

Several years ago my mother gave me a cache of twenty seven personal letters she had in safe keeping for over fifty five years in the dark recesses of her wardrobe. Around the same time I became interested in hours of home movies shot by my father during our childhood, which were stored in the family attic. This collection formed an impromptu archive and it was to become central to my subsequent PhD enquiry.

This exhibition evolved through research over the past three years. I started out by asking questions like; how is it possible to look at your own memories from a third person point of view? How can material objects become endowed with symbolic and archival power? What happens when stories become history and history becomes story telling?

Drawing on my collection of letters and home movies, I started to consider how a family archive could be reconfigured through art practice to speak back to broader social and cultural concerns. My parents’ emigration to Great Britain during the 1950s has considerably shaped my own life and given me an uneasy sense of ‘outsider’ by birth and outlook. I was born in England and though Irish by nationality, I feel somehow not ‘authentic’ enough, and that my claims to that lineage is somehow questionable.

I set about reinstating these humble objects, documents and testimonies into broader and socially relevant concerns. In becoming my own archivist, the unproductive and mostly redundant dichotomy between objective and subject relationships has gradually unravelled through my art practice. A central aspect of my research has been to examine how these ordinary artefacts can be transformed into an archive and reflect on how we narrate our personal histories.

The resulting movies and audio recordings reflect the conflicts of memory, and aim to question why we remember and what we remember, while also invoking ideas of memory by proxy through the use of ‘screen memories’. The furni-sculpture is specifically constructed for viewer interaction. I hope you will feel free to engage with these works and that you become – at least for a short time – additional active players in the story of this research.