Artist's Statement | Projects | Essays


Graduation Show: Audio Guide

2007 |
Audio/Participatory Installation

I made this audio guide for my degree show piece, as an accompaniment to the work of the other artists exhibiting in the show. The piece was presented as an audio guide similar to that which you might find at a museum or gallery. However, the directions and interpretations of the work suggested by the guide differ somewhat from what one might expect.

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> download audio file (mp3)

> graduation show gallery map (pdf)

Below is a trascription of the audio guide, complete with corresponding images of each of the works in the exhibition.

(Click on the numbers to read about each piece)

Hello and welcome to the audio guide to Graduation Show, the 2007 exhibition by students of Critical Fine Art Practice. This guide aims to give you a better understanding of the artists and their work, as well as offering you some indication as to how the work may best be experienced. Although there may be some pauses in the guide, feel free to press pause if you would like to take more time over a particular work. Once you have finished listening to the guide, please return the player to the desk at the front.

If you would like to take a look at the accompanying map and begin to familiarise yourself with the layout of the gallery, you will notice that the guide starts in the first room. Please make your way to the starting point and as you do so perhaps focus your attention on your surrounding environment – take a moment to appreciate the gorgeously dusty ceiling tiles, the serene textures of the uneven flooring and rickety window frames, and the effortlessly sumptuous paintwork as you wander through this heavenly garden of chipboard and nails.

Please press pause, and press play again when you are ready to begin the guide.


We begin the guide at point 1 on your map with a work by Susannah Brook. This artist is an obsessive collector of sticks. Although she also makes work using other woodland ephemera, such as leaves, acorns and tree stumps, her expansive collection of sticks – which ranges from tiny twigs right up to giant tree trunks fuels much of her practice. Here she presents her Bamboo stick series, collected from all over the world, and then redistributed in areas across the gallery. She has wrapped some of these sticks in cloth, almost as though they are being protected, highlighting the fragility and vulnerability of the bamboo.


The next piece at point 2, caused a frenzy of controversy and outrage when it was first shown. Since then, artist Rachael Finney was forced to censor some of the more explicit scenes from her work However, rather than remove them completely, the artist has subliminally disguised them within her videos. If you stand central to the installation and close one eye and then the other, beginning slowly, and gradually doing so more rapidly, you will begin to notice an image building up in front of you. This imagery may be sensitive to some visitors, so please do this at your discretion.


At point 3 Hannah Ellul’s work stands tall like a monolithic wooden monster. In the side of her construction we can peer into two small portholes, and as we do so it is as though we are staring right into the heart and mind of the beast. This work evokes remarkably the thoughts and dreams that a giant wooden box might have, allowing the audience to question the feelings and emotions that might lie within other inanimate objects.


From here we move onto point 4 on the map. Zoë Axworthy frequently pushes the boundaries of possibility within video art, and with this particular piece she has pushed the boundary so hard that she has managed to end up inside her own work. Now truly suffering for her art, ironically Zoë is now restricted by the limits of the box. Perhaps here we might encourage Zoë in her future practice and give her a wave.


Next we move onto Eleanor Jones’s work, at point 5 on your map. This piece combines both radio and television and therefore epitomises what is frequently classed as multi-media - a new kind of art brought over from America. This kind of art is relatively unexplored territory and unfortunately in attempting to explain this work, I am left utterly speechless


The next work, at point 6, is by Briony Bowen. Following health and safety restrictions the artist was forced to replace the live actors in her work with a video of them. The safety officers ruled that the decibel level reached by the opera singers was too high, and might cause windows in the building to crack.


It is important that we tiptoe carefully and quietly around our next piece, number 7 on the map. Here Siobhan Britton has reassigned the greenhouse from its traditional garden context into a gallery situation, however this is much more than a simple readymade. Siobhan has trained a selection of small mammals to work for her inside the greenhouse. The animals are very sensitive to colours and loud noises and as such we must remain as still and quiet as possible. However if you pause the guide, remove your headphones for a moment and press your ear up to the glass you may be able to hear them busily working away inside.


In order to continue through our next work, point 8, a deeply immersive piece by Thomas Hartley, we are going to have to swim. The blue walls on either side of us are representative of the ocean, through which we, as both viewer and participant must make our way. Once you have braved the depths of Hartley’s work please turn the corner and make your way towards point 9 on the map.


Here, Amber McClory presents us with what on first glance appears to be simply a title label. However, McClory’s practice is often supported by a rigid scaffold of art theory, and this particular piece is no different. Through this title label the artist questions the viewer’s propensity to regard the title as secondary to the physical work rather than perceiving them to be of equal worth.

If you lie down on the floor just in front of the label, perhaps stretch yourself out a little and take a moment to relax, and then begin to imagine that you are the work on display, that you are the exhibit rather than the visitor.


If we move into the small room in which point 10, Rebecca Sammon’s work is situated you will be struck by the intimacy of your surroundings. For this particular video piece we must undertake a kind of meditative experience. Take a deep breath. Now hold. Now, stare carefully into the image. Move your face right up to the screen. Keep holding your breath in. Stare right into the picture. As you do you will notice the colours spiralling into your eyes, blurring together and forming shapes and blobs. Now let your breath out, and move away from the screen.

As you leave this work you may feel a little strange, almost as if you have been hypnotised, this might cause your subsequent behaviour to become slightly erratic, and you may find yourself slowly creeping up to other visitors, and tickling them under the arm pit.

11 and 12

If you turn around and move through the small passageway, 11 and 12 on the map, you will see the result of a collaborative piece between Tim Stephens and Thomas Dawson, whilst up above us in the corridor, Dawson has evocatively captured the very essence of moonlight, Stephens has recreated pure night time in the following room, allowing us to imagine a utopian world where there is no light pollution. If you are still feeling the effects of Rebecca Sammon’s work, now might be the best place to act upon any urges you may have to tickle people whilst you are protected by the anonymity of pure darkness.

As you emerge from the passageway and return to the main room, you will encounter another of Thomas Dawson’s works. One of the most breathtaking things about this door is the attention to detail – particularly on the corners, on the edges, and also on the surface. This quality resonates through the work, and extends to the door on the other side. Open the first door and then sit down inside the room. The room aims to give the visitor the feeling of being trapped, and as such provoking them into mischief. If you spend a prolonged amount of time inside, you may find yourself sticking your arms and legs out of the sides of the space in an attempt to trip up passers by.


If you open the door and leave this room, and turn to point 13 on your map, you will find the work of William Thorburn. First allow me to tell you a bit about the background of the work. The background is red. Thorburn has then mounted three large black and white canvases onto this. The artist has chosen to work in black and white as by way of addressing issues of race and segregation in modern society - a most relevant issue. Additionally, Thorburn makes subtle use of symbolism in his work. If you crouch down in front of the bottom left section of the central image, you will notice a white cloud. This particular type of cloud is cumulonimbus, a type of cloud that is tall, dense and involved in thunderstorms and other bad weather. This may well be a metaphor.


Further to the left is Anna Smith’s work, a puppet theatre. With this piece the artist powerfully questions the relationship between the human form and the puppet. Traditionally puppets are used to mimic human actions, but here, Smith presents us with a work-out style video where the audience must copy the actions of the puppets on the screen.

Please pause the guide to allow you to follow the on screen actions.

Following this you may find yourself distracted by the tombola which stands next to it, another work by Thomas Dawson. Here Dawson has taken something more commonly regarded as a sideshow game and attached mirrors all around it, and thus contrasting the game with a vivid critique of the vanity of our culture


Contemporary galleries have found that introducing something fun into the gallery helps to make the work more accessible to people. This has become an increasingly prominent means of attracting visitors. One art gallery even went as far as to introduce fun fare style slides in an attempt to jazz up the gallery experience. Evidently the public have become bored of the traditional museum format and thus seek new ways to look at art.

15 and 16

Next please make your way over to point 16. Mark Hurrell’s work which at first seems to be merely a photograph, is in fact something much more interactive. Concealed behind the work are a number of sensors which are triggered by movement, these responses are linked up to Gemma Newby’s projection space at point 15. If you stand in front of Hurrell’s photograph and begin to jump up and down this will then alter the images that are projected inside Newby’s room. Here the artists have subtly deferred the task of editing the video onto the audience, although because of the positioning of the room the editors will never be able to watch their own handiwork, only the efforts of others.


As you may well be tired from the physical exertion of Mark Hurrell’s work, take a moment to relax with this piece by Mike Turnham. The artist is keen to call upon the role of vertical images in society, and as such has chosen to display a slideshow of postcard photographs, but rather than as a traditional landscape, Turnham has turned them 90 degrees. This reflects the artist’s own feelings about the orientation of post boxes and letterboxes in this country, and he hopes that this work will go some way toward improving the vertical opportunities in society which are yet to be explored.

And that brings us to the end of the guide. Please could you return the player to the desk at the front, and following that may I suggest a visit to the documentation and reading area - which is marked on your map - or perhaps if you would prefer something more light hearted, I highly recommend that you visit the comedy club in room 204, where you can watch a performance by Emma Bailey, for a list of times please check the notice board outside the room for details.