Salvage. Restore. Repair
Current Online Exhibition
Untitled (2006), branches mended with sellotape, dimensions variable.
Branches found on everyday walks have been carefully mended with sellotape in an apparently futile gesture, questioning their lack of purpose and significance. They are arranged propped against the wall - ambiguous and proffered for judgement as to whether they are awaiting use or further repair.
This work belongs to a set of 20 photographs and bottles from my work named ‘Redefined Recollections, 2014’. My work revolves around reconceptualising found objects, in particular, souvenirs. These photo cards previously belonged to a lady who visited Paris in the 1950’s. After stripping the original ink from the images in order to preserve the memories contained within them, my own digital images were transposed onto the cards after re-taking each image on my trip to Paris last year. The shadowy evidence remains locked onto the cards, reminding us of the passage of time. By destroying the original images, they have been given new life; an ongoing transmutation is witnessed by close inspection of the work.
Shards of broken glass have been recessed into shallow blocks of found printed papers. The glass sits over short cotton threads. The papers are all from high street banks, promoting various financial services.
These works seek to explore how an infusion of crafting affects the reading of conjunctions of apparently worthless materials.
Pictorially, each work gently alludes to landscape. The threads evoke surgical stitching.
These pieces are from an expanding series, which strive to balance and hybridise contradictory and contrasting themes such as:
accident and contrivance
image and object
beauty and ugliness
value and worthlessness
My work is a process of becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable.
Casting viscous red sealing wax with ‘lost and found’ objects that bear the scars of time, a sense of intimacy is created as I construct new narratives by combining the salvaged with the hand-crafted. Split between the repairer and the destroyer, layers of symbolism develop the syntax of the work and cultivate private conversations.
Exploring collective fears and anxieties, which are often hidden and seldom communicated, my work questions our attitude towards our own fragility. It explores what we conceal and what emerges or unfolds from acts of alteration, violence and interference. It is a balance between creative and destructive urges, a discovery of Presence and Absence, an insistence of intimacy and an act of reparation.
China Quick-Fix: between the design and the reality is the quick-fix
Quick-fixes in China are ubiquitous and varied: they proliferate not only in poorer neighbourhoods but also in smarter locations too. China is a country unusually rich in them: people have a special talent for finding quick, inexpensive solutions to the problems that life throws up. These quick-fixes take many forms and shapes that range from ingenious to brutal and what distinguishes them is their almost complete disregard for aesthetics. Their prevalence poses many questions, however, as the quick-fix mentality they stem from runs deep and can be said to extend right through society. The quick-fix is, I believe, the dominant contemporary Chinese modus operandi. These images come from the now considerable China Quick-Fix archive that I have been compiling for the last two years since becoming a resident of China.
Rescuing lost things from states of limbo: a sense of absence and displacement [of an ancestral background] harbours a persistent cycle of unearthing and recreating, with a tendency to assert systems of order and display.
Within the studio, found objects and remnants are archived or displayed on various surfaces; laid bare like archeological fields of enquiry. The hope is to be seductive and evocative with a potential to create shifts and tensions, where work can at once be conflicting and compatible: endurance versus fragility, present versus lost and playful versus the melancholic.
Work is replicated through seemingly banal, repetitive or labour intensive activities, such as inciting the same action again and again, and the use of the multiple object or clone. An overriding ambition to make the ordinary extraordinary is significant. Through a pursuit intent on synthesizing fragments of the everyday, an undercurrent of fear and longing comes to surface.
These works involve creating sculptures from re-using technological detritus. Parts of computers, white goods, broken electronics,
housing from VCR’s. The media technology which is unfixable and has been discarded by its owners. These works create sculpture which may look like new machine, or machine from the past which have been preserved. However, they have no function and are fictional in terms of existing for any purpose. The objects are then photographed as a product, reminding the viewer of antiquated technologies of the past.
‘Free Labor’ is an ongoing sculptural project that uses waste materials from regeneration schemes around London. The works aim to be critically involved in the continual waste culture of inner city refurbishments through the use of salvaged materials. By re-purposing materials found at refurbishments, demolitions or 'new-builds' this project aims to present works that become sociopolitically charged through the materials previous life and their re-appropriation as sculptures.
The title refers to personal events with landlords, labor, materials and waste culture that I have experienced over the last five years in London, in domestic and studio properties. With Landlords having ever increasing power over their tenants, as the demand rises for their properties, the free property market has elevated an existing power structure to a position of inequality and subordination on a variety of levels that is rapidly changing the socio-cultural and political landscape of our inner cities.
This piece itself involved the laborious job of wrapping each piece of salvaged carpet and in the process references security, the ‘masses’ and also is a nod towards Joseph Beuys’s use of felt.
Steve Maher is a visual and relational artist Based between Limerick, Ireland and Helsinki, Finland. He bases his practice between both countries and has shown his work throughout the North America and Europe. Maher's work is centred on collaboration, relation and dialogue. Important themes which reoccur through his work stem from research into linguistics, memetics and semiotics, popular media, cliché and tropes, popular music, the history of music, musicology and subversive culture, the body and geography, duality and non-duality, irony and satire. Through humour Maher plays on expectations and makes use of the inherent cognitive dissonance behind the many facets of modern living and our consequential subconscious adherence to dominant ideology.
Maher realises his projects through a variety of existing hybridized mediums, most notably Maher works through re-interpretations of pre-existing social/cultural artefacts, rituals and behaviours set in a combination of relational and visual art work.
Whitehead rebuild started as a university project and is something that I am still working on 8 years later. Whitehead is a small industrial steam locomotive built by Pecket and Sons in 1908.
In 2007 the locomotive was stripped down for a rebuild. This was completed in early 2011. During this time I shot nearly 30 hours of video footage and took several hundred photographs.
Industrial heritage is a passion and I have been taking photographs of locomotives since I was a teenager. Making films was an extension of this interest and I have made several documentaries about steam locomotives and preserved railways.
These few images show a small part of the work involved during the restoration process. The ash pan being repaired with welds, through the inside of the boiler with new tubes in place and finally the rusty boiler before any repairs had been made.
All these digital collage images are derived from photographs of the ongoing restoration of an old house in France. Floors have been stripped out to reveal a large beams various planks are left in place to enable access to various places Looking down through two levels to the cellar makes one aware of the fragility of the human body. The roof timbers are complex and probably date from the early 1800s the walls are glued together with mud and now that the floors, ravaged by termites, have been removed there are numerous mice without a home.
These images are made by layering several images, using some filters and a bit of digital editing.
Salvage. Restore. Repair…
London grew… London burst… London grew…
The brick that built London was hand dug out of the clay beds laid down by the Thames a million years before. Each brick was cast by hand and fired in temporary kilns built on vast ‘brick fields’.
Each family that dug the clay and fired the kilns, would make over a million bricks a year… enough to build about 30 Georgian houses a year.
Salvage. Restore. Repair…
400 wax bricks… cast by hand… ghosting original London bricks laid down 200 years ago…
An echo… a homage… a memory.
Salvage. Restore. Repair…
Repair has been a theme central to my work. I stitch sculpture back together using wire and thread. The stitching mends, pulls back into a whole, attempts to control, hold together, unify.
In “Madonna & Child- suspended and stitched” A large piece of stone is broken into 2 pieces and stitched back together, holding tenuously together with very thin wire strings, but also pulling apart . This piece looks at the difficult, dynamic and potentially painful relationship between mother and child.
“Laid out” is a response to climate change -latex skins cast from branches are cut , turned inside out, stitched back together and lightly stuffed. The trees lay prone, they look like skin, in this case the damage is irrepairable, stitching is visibly futile.
There is an intentional emotion to these pieces, whether successful or not, they embody a desire to put things back together, an attempt at healing.