Unrepair

25/06/2011

by Lucy Elsie Harvey

Stone conservation : principles and practice, Henry, Alison

“Do not let us talk then of restoration. The thing is a Lie from beginning to end.” – Ruskin

In comparing my collection with the one formerly housed at Pitzhanger Manor I began to research repair which then led me to the debate between restoration and conservation. For me, this conflict clearly profiles our anxieties concerning legacy, with objects becoming indelibly linked to one narrative and being preserved as such. The act of repair attempts to hide a part of an object’s history from the viewer, recommencing it from an arbitrary period whilst conservation’s intervention protects the object from the inevitability of time.

Both sides seem open very much to interpretation but despite the artifice of repair I think I find the act of conservation more sinister. Doesn’t the narrative capacity of an object cease once we have decided to conserve it and who are we to remove the object’s role as an aggregate of legacy? Our tendency to retire objects to museums, imbuing them with the power to educate whilst removing their intended function, is a key inspiration for my work and the basis for my fascination with power objects.

Sketchbook development: Found ceramic assemblage

I am making both new sculptural and wearable pieces in response to these ideas by pairing found and made ceramic components with metal work and jewellery processes. I have returned to ceramics to cast some of the figurative objects from my collection and explore their repair (and unrepair) whilst looking at ideas of conservation and presentation in metal work. My portrait will culminate from this juxtaposition, presenting the legacy of human interaction through both making and repair.

Sample pieces, plaster, found ceramics

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