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Signs, Shrines and The Language of Stuff

by James on August 16th, 2011

I’ve been out taking photos of signs, patterns on the pavement, manhole covers etc. I love the texture, colour, the composition and the way that different materials come together, some as designed, some through erosion and weathering, to form a unity.

I wrote a post on here a couple on months ago about the language of making, and often talk about the importance of materials to my practice, the need to make the material reality of an object or environment accessible, in order for us to realise our integrated nature with the world around us.

Its got me thinking about past work which I made for specific environments, or which I left outside for the elements to change and mark, and the work that I’ve been making by combining found materials then attaching to trees or posts.

Fire Hydrant Cover
They have something about them that reminds me of shrines or signs, signs that use the ‘language of stuff’ to communicate rather than relying solely on images or symbols.

I’ve also been thinking about how to share my objects more widely. I do show work in galleries but am also interested in putting art ‘out there’ amongst the objects and materials of the everyday world, hence my interest in art/interpretation and in street/land art.

It sounds very obvious now I write it, but I’ve brought all this together and decided to make more work that I can leave attached to posts, lamp posts, walls etc for people to come across. I’m thinking about using twitter to share images of work on site and to map the slowly growing body of work, through the location being logged and shared.

I guess its like my version of roadside shrines, except my shrine is about the need to experience our own direct connection with the world around us, and between what we have come to see as ‘man-made’ and ‘natural’.

At college tutors asked me why I often made objects in threes – was it a nod to the holy trinity perhaps? It wasn’t, not in a consciously religious way, but I am interested in how religious iconography is composed and used, and my work is very much about reintegrating the whole individual with the world of which they are a part – Mind, Body and Spirit.


So, that’s my inspiration and one of my ideas for where I take things next. I’ll let you know how it works out.

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