Home | Artcore, Derby

Home is a multi-layered theme rich with meanings. It continues to be a challenging and nuanced topic today, inflected with issues of gender, identity, migration, belonging, social critique and community involvement. While these topics can at times be problematic, even challenging, home, as a theme, can also be reassuring and comforting, exploring the everyday, the domestic, and the reassuring memories of childhood. This exploration of the domestic is present throughout the exhibition, being exemplified by Delpha Hudson’s intriguing collection of found everyday objects. A forgotten toy henry hoover, covered in paint but still instantly recognisable as a design classic, sits near a defunct Singer Sewing Machine, an icon of the domestic, and industry, tasks which used to dominate the cultural identity of this part of the country. This exploration of the psychological complexities of the domestic and how it is tied to the objects we acquire, is important. These meanings have value. Delpha Hudson’s work aims to give this value to small domestic tasks performed in the home, especially the work that women do. The piece is titled ‘Small Promethean Acts. ‘There is intended irony in the title. Homeworkers are unpaid and unrewarded for the work they do. The work hi-lights the political issue of invisibility for carers in society. The domestic objects in Hudson’s installation are combined with ceramic figures holding intriguing poses, making me of the conscious and unconscious motions made throughout the day. A stretch in the morning, a gyration while cleaning, all anonymised in ceramics not representing any one person, rather millions doing unheralded work. Work with value, though perhaps not recognised. How might lives change if ‘home workers’ (mothers, carers, parents, housewives..) were given their due? These small sculptures do not illustrate literally. They might link or be inspired by stories that are being collected from people about their domestic lives.

Small Promethean Acts, Delpha Hudson

Delpha Hudson’s work aims to give this value to small domestic tasks performed in the home, especially the work that women do. The piece is titled ‘Small Promethean Acts.’There is intended irony in the title. Homeworkers are unpaid and unrewarded for the work they do. The work hi-lights the political issue of invisibility for carers in society. The domestic objects in Hudson’s installation are combined with ceramic figures holding intriguing poses, making me of the conscious and unconscious motions made throughout the day. A stretch in the morning, a gyration while cleaning, all anonymised in ceramics not representing any one person, rather millions doing unheralded work. Work with value, though perhaps not recognised. How might lives change if ‘home workers’ (mothers, carers, parents, housewives..) were given their due? These small sculptures do not illustrate literally. They might link or be inspired by stories that are being collected from people about their domestic lives.

Small Promethean Acts, Delpha Hudson

This exhibition opens discussion about how the physical experience of the dwelling space. Nevertheless there’s more to the physical manifestation home of home than the building where you sleep. There’s the streets you walk down, the corner shop where you know everyone’s name, at least in some places, and of course wherever you consider your ‘hometown’. Is that where you currently reside, where you were born, or is there more to it? A cultural connection to a place, and it’s psychogeography, cannot be underestimated.

Natasha Joseph’s moving image artwork explores the idea of the surreal absurdities of situations- planned or otherwise that fringes on the realm of reality and fiction. Taking a walking tour through the streets of Derby, an insight is revealed into some of the cultural fabric of the town. Little details, the colour of the bins, what people are wearing, how close-knit the houses are build an image and idea of community. This characterful display, coupled with an upbeat soundtrack, is well accompanied by a factual yet minimal map on the floor, detailing the journey taken throughout the film. You can’t help but think of the deeper meaning this must hold to locals, yet the rest of us can picture our own town in a similar way. How often do you really think about the journey home? Street names, certainly not road numbers, don’t matter much. A left here, a right there, is all you need. Who knows what goes on in secret behind those closed doors? Like the personal, social, and cultural elements out of which they are constructed, homes can be not only comforting, but threatening too. It reinforces the point that home is not a static place, rather we carry home with us as a psychological space where we care for and are cared for by others. Where we are comfortable. The small acts of care that that make us feel at home wherever we are.

This simple yet multifaceted theme has been deftly handled by the two artists. It’s often a challenge with a process like these, where there are two artists previously unknown to each other and brought together by an application process and a one-word theme, to present something cohesive. This has clearly been on their minds throughout their eight weeks in residence at Artcore Gallery. Simple touches, such as a few minutes of silence from Joseph’s video piece, allowing Hudson’s softly spoken audio recordings to take over, the quiet voices of the everyday being preeminent. It’s always good to see artists taking steps to support each other like this.

Natasha Joseph’s studio space

An exhibition leading from a residency is one of those wonderful moments where you get a peak into the creative journey the artists have gone through, and hopefully will continue exploring. Both Hudson and Joseph wrote regular blog posts to document their thoughts during the process, providing an intriguing insight:

Home as a theme can be playful, engaging and cutting. This exhibition strikes a clever balance across a variety of interpretations, and the two exhibiting artists keep multiple themes in conversation. Issues of memory, history, displacement, identity and the body all come into play. The exhibition makes you consider not only where home is, but what it can be. Home shows the challenges with these questions, and shows why the theme continues to be a vibrant area of research in contemporary art.

Recce A, Natasha Joseph

 

Artcore Gallery celebrates contemporary visual arts through a dynamic and diverse programme of events and exhibitions. Find out more at artcoregallery.org.uk

The reviewer was Chris Boote, Programme Manager at Artcore.

Home was at Artcore between 21st November – 21st December 2019.

Images are by and courtesy Iona Davies.