The Gift – a Bucket of Light
A notion of giving and how this feels.
The ‘buckets’ were first made for the exhibition Private Collections – the idea behind my mirrored piece was that each individual could collect whatever they wished to in their own bucket/basket form. The idea for the exhibition was that as a member of a 20 strong international group we would all make 20 pieces to give 19 away. In return to receive 19 pieces to add to our own piece to create a private collection. The exhibition, initiated by Sigridur Asgeirsdottir, was hugely successful in Reykjavik, Iceland and so I brought it to the National Waterfront Museum Swansea before each collection dispersed to its creative owner.
Surprisingly it was this notion of gift that propelled me to make a large bucket, for the University of Hawaii during my initial visit in 2015, to hang in the courtyard heralding my return in the summer. It was the gift of material, a stack of mirrored Plexiglas, that the sculpture department offered to me, that prompted the impromptu making. It was an excellent prototype and situation to test it in. The large suspended bucket gathered guano that was easily hosed off, but otherwise happily rotated for the six-month period it hung in the courtyard bearing witness to all that passed.
On my return I decided to complete the installation and made two other similarly sized bucket forms to extend the piece. There was no more bronze mirror Perspex/Plexiglas only silver, the surface of which did not react in the same way as the bronze. A different effect evolved in the rain, eroded the surface of the silver, whereas the bronze was resilient with no visible erosion at all.
The buckets, silently rotating, became a source of engagement and enjoyment by all that passed through the busy courtyard, with some people daily eating their lunch by them. The dancer Jazmyne Koch chose it for her site specific dance piece as part of the Asia Pacific Dance Festival.
Professor Betsy Fisher collaborated with musician Ernie Provencher and myself to create a dance and movement performance piece with the suspended bucket in the courtyard. We met on four occasions, for one hour sessions, before Ernie and Betsy performed the piece at the exhibition opening. This is the documentary film of the collaborative dance piece.
The notion of gift also informed my decision to invite the university community to make and donate a rope to hang a ‘bucket’ for my exhibition. A small mirror bucket was gifted in return for the loan of ‘a rope’. The idea was prompted by the experiment I had of exploring different ways of hanging the bucket forms I had returned with, 100 in total. Each day my collection developed, mostly with things I found on my route to
and from the studio. This was the call out:
“An invitation to contribute a ‘rope’ made of any material, and any length, to hang a glass bucket, to be loaned for the duration of an immersive installation exhibition. These can be ‘ready-mades’ or something constructed specifically, the choice is yours!”
The response was slow at first, with some staff and students putting things in the box, but then once the Art Office staff got excited and engaged a varied selection appeared. It was interesting to see the range laid out on the floor of the gallery for the first time. My faith and trust in process delivered a fascinating collection.
The Monday following the exhibition, everyone was given their signed bucket on their rope. I gave a set of three to all those who had been directly involved.
On my return to Swansea Kay Denyer at Volcano Theatre asked if I was interested in sharing, through exhibition, an aspect of my Creative Wales Ambassador time in Hawaii. I chose to repeat the call out for ropes and to gift those responding.
The setting and layout was quite different. The proximity of sea and beach at both venues led to some similar use of materials. The exhibition at Volcano had a definite Swansea feel different to Honolulu, with not so much natural materials. There were a fair amount of found ‘ropes’ in both displays, e.g. ribbons, rope and lace with some specific crafting and making, artists and the public taking part. Individual responses to the gift, an easy exchange.
Here is some public feedback: