The Expanding Foam project is a 'hauntological' exploration of personal and regional history. The very material of the industrial past of my home town Stoke-on-Trent (the Potteries) and the migration of its produce to new homes (and my new home of Sheffield) an allegory of the town I left behind. Broken shards now refuse, much like the town, shells and ghosts of former glories.
The current works consist of sculptural forms incorporating excavated ceramics and organic material alongside speakers, crude electronic sound generators and found objects. The ceramics fragments are dug up from old refuse sights and from beach combing in the north of England. These are then formed into shapes reminiscent of growths, organic blooms of waste churned up by the earth.
In the Beginning
In the beginning was the badger and that badger did dig a set. The excavations of the set spewed forth broken china which was collected and stuck onto expanding foam. All Praise be the badger.
The starting point for the project was the discovery of an old victorian/georgian slag heap in a wood. The majority of the surviving refuse was ceramic though I have dug up glass bottles, small bones and shells. At the time I was inspired by primitivist artists and had fallen for mosaics. I loved the fact that these forms were not the pretty kitsch pieces I associated with the medium but wild, surreal things embodying their creators vision. Having found these broken ceramics I decided to make my own. Not knowing where to begin I chose something I had little control over though I was sure would give me an interesting shape to work with e landing on expanding foam.
So the project developed with no clear meaning in mind simply a love of creating. Over time I wanted the pieces to have a life of their own so decided that they should interact with the space they were in. Deciding on sound I began looking at electronics and keeping the work at arms length to myself wanted it to generate itself. I began experiments with modular synthesizers and crude electronics that would react to touch.
These two strands continued side by side though I was determined that the meaning was loose and it was about chance I could not escape the land that the physical materials came from and the past, whether the object or my own.
The actual meaning of the project is still loose but following a series of field recordings from sites where I have gathered raw material for my sculptures has begun to take shape.