Phaseolus Vulgaris

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Who will provide?  and what are the consequences?

This shared exhibition required every artist to make work that responded to ideas of provision and preservation of services, safety, shelter, guidance. The church community’s 1995 Wish List detailed their hopes and desires for the church’s future.  This Wish List has 'Feeding the Needy' as its first item under the heading 'Serving the Community'.  

Bronze Beans.jpg
Glass Beans.jpg
Stone Beans.jpg

Concept

As laudable as the desire to serve is, how does it feel to be the recipient of such service?  Is food-for-faith a covenant without consequences?  How heavily or lightly do those ubiquitous baked beans feel in the stomachs of the 'Needy'?  It is a complex relationship. An attempt to visually portray 'food-for-faith' resulted in a can (of baked beans) being recreated in bronze, stone and glass, the materials signifying the relative emotional weight of relying on charity for sustenance.

Development

The casting of the three cans was straight forward. However, casting baked beans in a sauce proved more difficult. No less slippery substitute looked right. I eventually hit upon the idea of freezing the beans without the sauce and hoping the silicone mould set before the beans defrosted. It worked reasonably well.

Installation

Beans are the most humble of foods. Accepting charity is the most humbling of events. I knew that placing these small cans on the floor, hidden from obvious view, would be the only way to display them. I gave the work the Latin name for the common bean, Phaseolus Vulgaris, and so obscured them further.

Curation

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I co-curated the exhibition. After an initial team meeting, where individuals took up tasks in a natural collaborative manner, the main issue was reminding artists of the limitations on space in the gallery and on transport to the gallery. Some original projects were down-sized as a result.

In terms of curating on “get-in” day we started with a meeting with artists and the technical team. We allocated provisional spaces based on artists preferences and decided which works could be installed first.

We curating the works based on their visual impact on site and on their links with other works in terms of themes and references.

As a team I was particularly happy with how we managed artists expectations and worked with the artists as much as possible to fulfil their vision whilst not imposing on other artists or on the show as a whole.

It is something to be able to say that at the end of the day all artists were happy or very happy with how their work had been curated. This result is important because we will be working together again soon and hopefully far into the future. Making our first group show a “happy event” for all should inspire confidence in working together again and make it easier for organisers to influence and enthuse the artists to collaborate to create (and curate!) events in the years to come.

The Crypt Private View
YouTube video credit: Basak Ulukose.