This series started simply with a suggestion to speed up my working processes. Grinding pigments, mixing them with oils and following a laborious layering process was beautiful in its own way, but took weeks to realise.
Why not use something else as your ‘paint’? Something that’s quicker to work with in order to experiment more freely…
In Barcelona there are several great stationery shops, full of raw materials for every occasion. They had a breathtakingly wide range of sticky labels – or autoadhesivas as they are called in Spanish – plain, small, large, coloured, shaped, sparkly… instant units or marks that I could use instead of paint strokes.
So I started experimenting with small works on paper, repeating units, making patterns, overlapping, spacing, drawing underneath, painting on top…
Eventually I decided even this was too slow, so I asked in the mini mart shop next door to the studios if I could borrow their labelling gun for an experiment. They said I could as long as I used it while the shop was closed, as they needed it to price their stock while they were open.
I ordered some rolls of labels online and one night stayed late playing with the gun – building up prices on the studio walls and seeing what happened when I simply started at one corner and labelled in the straightest line I could to the other corner – a distance of about 4m.
And the same the following night – and the next – and the next! It took a week of nights for me to fill all four walls of the gallery space – white labels in ‘straight’ rows on white walls. A simple blue neon light placed in the corner of this cube-like space literally threw everything into a different light. Instantly night after night of mark-making was visible
In the exhibition that followed, visitors commented that it was like being underwater or in a swimming pool. It had a calming effect on some people – “like meditating”. Others felt drawn to touch, to see what the floating illusion was made of.
One of the first to do this was a 4 year old girl, who peeled off a label and then re-stuck it to the wall in a slightly different place. Her parents were horrified “no toca” they told her, but I loved the fact she wanted to touch and interact with this huge piece. That experience will work its way into my approach for my next show – where this time I will deliberately invite the audience to interact with the work… and see what they do.