I took part in the Waterside Art Centres 'Open' exhibition last year an exhibition full of many different works of art. It was the second time I took part in the show and its always great especially as I live in Sale and its so local. All the visitors to the show had the opportunity to vote on their favourite piece and my butterfly installation won the 'peoples choice' award. As part of that award I was invited to take part in a show with the other award winners from the 'Open'. I went in last week to install a new butterfly installation (see bottom picture). The show opens today and is on until May, there will be a 'meet the maker' event and I will also be giving a talk along with the other artists in March (see flyer above for details).
This is the piece I installed for the 'Open' exhibition in 2012. Photograph by Stuart Royse;
This is the piece I have just installed for the one year on exhibition. It is made up of over 300 porcelain butterflies. Each butterfly has antique lace imprinted in into the surface and their wings are propped up at different angles to represent flight and yet they have have been pinned into position. I have painted the backs of the butterflies red, which cannot be seen from the front but when you get a little closer and view from the side you can see the dash of dramatic colour on the upturned wings.
I love the form of the butterfly but I am also very inspired by the symbolism of it. It is so beautiful and fragile, one touch of its wings and it would be destroyed. Yet its beauty encourages us to want to catch and trap it forever. This desire to covet something beautiful is similar to my own practice I was inspired by beautiful artefacts in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Stunning objects made with such care and attention to detail and an honesty to the material used. I wanted to hold these precious objects but housed behind glass they were protected from my destructive hands. I want to make work that people want to covet, something precious to be held and never forgotten. Sentimental maybe but every time I make I am driven by the desire to make something so beautiful it has to be looked at and held.
Hopefully this butterfly installation encapsulates the idea of something beautiful being contained but there is also a sadness about trapping these beautiful butterflies. The red represents the death of them as they were pinned into position, but not the death of its beauty that will be there forever trapped in the clay that it was made from.
The birth and death cycle of the butterfly is a pretty short one, reminding me of the short cycle of life and death. It represents the philosophy of impermanence, that everything changes and in fact has to change and we have to allow it. Therefore ironically I really shouldn't be trapping and pinning these butterflies but letting go and setting them free.