Back in 2011 I ran a project in Tooting Market called Market POST with members of POST Artists. We made artworks, ran workshops, and created exhibitions which responded to the market, its traders and visitors. One of my favourite projects was our Tooting Pound Shop, of which there are many, but we were selling artworks. This project made us far more approachable. When we had nothing to sell in the market, people just didn’t know what to make of us. Selling artworks for a pound made us approachable and started a dialogue with the market users that had, at times, been previously too difficult to start. It was interesting to see what sold. Original drawings barely sold but the greetings cards were snapped up. It was basically about use value. It taught us a lot about the setting we were in and how art was perceived. the beauty of this was, however, that it expanded the audiences to our exhibitions and people found our space more welcoming in the future having created this approachable dialogue.
Last year I took part in the most wonderful residency in Cordoba, Spain run by Beam in Wakefiled and funded by the Leonardo Da Vinci lifelong learning programme. One of my fellow participants was the wonderful Annie Nelson who is one of the artist organisers at Woolgather Art in Leeds. She invited me to take part in their Art Vend project. This involved a commission to create 150 artworks for sale at just £1 each which could fit into vending machines, the type where you purchase a plastic sphere and there’s a surprise inside. I loved the idea of the project and racked my brains as to what to make.
I was working in the ceramics department at Escuela De Arte Dionisio Ortiz, Cordoba during the residency so a ceramic piece seemed the perfect choice. The art vend concept made me question multiples as artworks. Thinking about the whole and the fragments. A jigsaw sprang to mind as a multiple artwork and how each piece is a part of a whole but what is its value in isolation. The project seemed to question the value of artworks and of multiples so an impossible jigsaw seemed appropriate.
I created a giant jigsaw with comprising 150 rectangular raku ceramic pieces that could only really be pieced together by checking their individual edition numbers on the back but that could hopefully be treasured as individual items with merely the potential of being a part of a whole.
This piece was created using a hot kiln and then sawdust creating plumes of smoke in 42 degrees centigrade Spanish sunshine!
Each piece was individually wrapped in their plastic shells for artvend with this advice slip: Welcome to The Colony. You now own one part of a 150 piece, nearly impossible, ceramic jigsaw. Each piece is uniquely handcrafted, yet part of a whole. Will you find your neighbours? Would you want to?
Woolgather Art are now celebrating the Art Vend project with an exhibition this December and publication including all of the artworks. If you are about in Leeds at that time, please pop along to the exhibition, and seize the opportunity to collect the final limited edition artworks at only £1 each!