“On Use” An assemblage work celebrating post-utility value

On Use 2018-2020 Mixed Media 60×70″

I’ve been composing the various elements of this piece since 2018, and I’ve spent the last few days putting them together in an interesting (and rather large) assemblage that I am calling “On Use”.

On Use reflects my attraction to objects, especially wood (appropriate, given where I live in the Pacific Northwest/Salish Sea region), that have been discarded after reaching the end of their utility. It’s an exploration of use, misuse, right use, and abuse, and also of the continuum between utility and beauty.

The unceremonious disposal of these objects is countered by the “ceremony” of recognizing their post-use aesthetic and then bringing it out through composition. The implication is that only after their useful life is finished can certain objects reveal their deeper character.

“Used” (found, salvaged, discarded, left-over) materials form a foundation for my art practice, not only for their explicit materiality but also in how they shape a process, and because of the particular demands they place upon the imagination.

With used materials there is no Tabula rasa, no blank slate, no blank canvas. It is a different kind of relationship, partly pre-formed or destined, beginning with a recognition (even an honouring) of what is already there, of what has already been lived.

On Use is assembled on thick vintage mill paper from the now defunct pulp mill just outside the town of Campbell River. The paper was previously used by me, providing various functions in the studio. I chose to work with its marks and dimensions as-is, inviting more embedded history into the work rather than trying to create an invisible or “clean” background.

The work is assembled in such a way that it can be taken apart without damaging its components. It may turn out to be a temporary piece, or it may have a long life in its current form. It is now hanging above the kitchen table, where it fills the wall. The weight of the piece, combined with some buckling of the very thick paper, has it leaning out in somewhat unevenly, emphasizing its three-dimensional presence in the room.

On Use is 60×70″. Materials include wood, plywood, paint, pencil, crayon, rope, fabric, paper, cardboard, canvas, and hardware.

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