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Trapezius: Flora’s Blog Part 2

Today’s post is from Flora Parrott, one of the artists behind the Trapezius exhibition.

The installation day for Trapezius was an extremely nerve wracking experience but really interesting and wonderful to see the work coming together alongside Lisa’s. The work had been collected the Friday beforehand and transported up to the museum along with all my tools and plans.

Because of the nature of the pieces I make I have a huge amount of work to do during the install. The pieces can look completely different in a new environment and getting the balance of the elements right is really important.

I will have a set idea and series of diagrams and measurements but often end up adjusting these on site and using eye and judgement. 

Each piece can have several objects, materials and images that are designed to fit together in a configuration that creates a diagram of a particular sensation or alludes to a series of sensations. They are descriptive but often without being literal or specific.

I suppose installing work for me is like constructing a series of sentences, which then fit together to form a paragraph.

The wall based pieces have the most possible variations and so are the most complex to install. The sculptures are pretty straight forward but need to be placed in an order in the gallery that means they have enough space around them but also refer and echo to one another. The frames on the wall and the boxes are great, the Herbert staff put these up for me and it was incredible to see the museum objects coming up in the specially made cases. It has been an extraordinary experience and a huge privilege to use the collection in the work.

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Introducing Flora Parrott

(Pictures show examples of the artist’s work.)

My name is Flora Parrott and I am one of the two artists showing work in the ‘Trapezius’ show at the Herbert from April to June.

I have been developing the work for the show for around about a year now and am currently making final changes and adjustments in my studio space at home. Lisa and I are going to be writing a couple of blog entries each to give you a sense of how the ideas for the project have come together and to document the work before it is delivered to the gallery in April.

Lisa and I met in our final year of our MA course, we live very near each other in London and so have stayed in touch and began talking about the continuing parallels between our work and how great it would be to have a show together.

My work is a combination of images and objects which I try to place together and strike a balance which describes a particular process or sensation. Work I have made in the past has dealt with breathing or pressure within the body; I looked at forms within nature and architecture that mirror and enhance these ideas. The principles of the work I’m making for Trapezius are the same: I want the pieces to act as a diagram of a process or action, but in this case I have been thinking about the muscle structures around the spine, how bone can knit back together, how muscles can stretch and contract.

I read a piece in a book called ‘The Inner Touch, Archaeology of a Sensation’ by Daniel Heller Roazen (The Circle and the Point), in which the author describes the ‘central sense’. I was interested in describing the idea of instincts of perception within the body – the idea of a point at which 5 senses meet. I made an instant and obvious connection with the five-pointed shape of a vertebrate which protects the spinal column and so decided to make a work to illustrate the idea.

The work is about 4 feet tall and consists of 5 pentagonal pillars cast in concrete. These have been cast in my garden (!) and all the elements are so heavy that I have had to have some help with the lifting and mixing. Plywood moulds in support structures were lined with paint and silicon and bolted together. The concrete is made from kiln dried sand and cement which has a fine, pale look and a bone like surface. The 5 pillars are going to be joined together with steel strips and stand in a pentagonal formation in the space.

There are also going to be two large-scale combinations of objects and images in the space too. Tree stumps have been treated in different ways and combined with metal and paint to represent how I imagine some of the material combinations within the body work. I have cast soap and used various images and arrangements to try to find a frequency between the objects.

There will be 3 works on the walls which act in a similar way. By referencing objects from the natural history collections and using a configuration of images and objects, they will, I hope, describe a movement within the back and shoulders. For example, a diagram of what it feels like to hunch your shoulders.

These are large-scale works and so have to be made in pieces from plans and then constructed in the space. The pieces will have the actual objects from the collection as part of their fabric – this is incredibly exciting for me! An amazing opportunity to use original source material in the work, I can’t wait to see how it affects the dynamic of the pieces.

Finally I have made a series of 24 images (one for each of the main vertebrae) of which 8 will be shown in the show. We were lucky enough to have access to the museum’s natural history collection and I have used objects which seem to have a similar make up to bone – (coral, shell, minerals) to make diagrams of different pressures on the spine. The images are worked and reworked  – the process reminded me of grafting. We are going to project images onto the Cathedral ruins in May and I am looking forward to seeing how to the natural forms look on the architecture which so closely mimics them.

I hope this gives you a sense of how the work for the show will be.


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Touched by Art

The Sculpture Gallery

On Tuesday I welcomed a group of ladies and gentlemen from the Coventry Macular Disease Support Group. This is a support group which meets in Coventry regularly to share information and support each other through age-related sight loss.

Last year I was lucky enough to take part in some training to enable me to audio describe art works to visually impaired people. After meeting with the group I invited them to come to the museum for a visit. Firstly we explored the History Gallery. One of the things I love about my job is the things that you learn. They told me stories about living in Coventry during the Blitz and we reminisced about pink fridges. I showed them Coventry-made goods from the Great Exhibition of 1851 and some chain mail.

Then we visited the Discover Godiva gallery where I gave an audio description of two important paintings by John Collier and Van Noort. Although I suspect the real highlight was the cartoon about the Godiva legend which they enjoyed very much.

After that we went upstairs to the Sculpture Gallery, and armed with my list of tactile sculptures we explored some of the pieces up there. I always really enjoy the touch tour part of the visit because it gives me an opportunity to experience and learn about the sculptures in ways that are not otherwise possible. We explored the sculpture Michelangelo as a Boy.  The group were blown away by the amount of detail in the sculpture including the ribbing on his stockings and the pattern on his jacket. We also explored a few statues by Tim Threlfall which was wonderful because they are made of such diverse materials and although they look simple they are deceptively complex. Read the rest of this entry

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