2014 Degree Show - Final Project - project development
I began this project with an overwhelming amount of family archive material: photographs, postcards, diaries, a family tree. Where to begin?
I initially conceived this piece on a very large scale, where the viewer would be able to walk in and out of a number of panels, immersing themselves in the story. However, budget, time constraints and the sheer practical difficulties involved in building something of that size took precedence, resulting in my artwork being scaled down significantly.
The main benefit has been to relieve the pressure on my meeting the final show deadline, but it has also helped focus my attention on the important, salient features of the story. The result is a pared down, more minimal version of the original narrative but, hopefully, just as impactful. Sometimes, less is definitely more!
As the project took shape, the idea of a folding Edwardian-style room divider began to emerge. This was more portable and manageable in scale. I looked at a lot of antique screens for ideas.
I also started to do a number of drawings and began to create a montage of my material. This resulted in a lot of cutting up of paper, glueing, re-arranging, discarding of content... and endless hours in Photoshop, bringing all the images together.
I considered the key elements of Ethel's story and on decided on eight periods:
- Leaving her Edwardian home
- Life in Australia
- World War One
- Outback adventure
- Between The Wars
- World War Two
- Peace and repatriation
One theme which kept recurring was that of the 'epic journey' - often by rail. Ethel's adventures seem punctuated by long spells of gruelling train travel: setting off from Derbyshire to London; derailment in the Australian Outback; then the ordeal of being deported to a German prisoner-of-war camp. I decided to make a railway track a central motif, linking all the panels together.