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DESCRIPTIONPublication from the exhibition We Florists by Lawrence Daley theld at A Brooks Art, Hoxton. abrooksart.com lawrencedaley.com
We Florists at by Lawrence Daley
Can a dehu-midifier keep the plants in a flower bed alive?
Artist Talk with Lawrence Daley and Dr Megha Rajguru 11th October 2012 6.30-7.30pm.
Just what sort of impact does art have on us? Can it change how we perceive the world around us? Lawrence Daley and Dr Megha Rajguru discuss these issues in relation to A Brooks Art exhibition We Florists. We Florists is a site-specific response to the history of 194 -196 Hoxton Street and particularly its previous role as a florist.
Megha Rajguru: I thought I would start off by asking Lawrence what issues he is engaging with and what ideas underpin his work. So what ideas do you explore with this?
Lawrence Daley: I suppose my work is site-specific normally and it responds to the place it is in. So it is important for my work to have a relationship with the space around it and that it enters into some sort of conversation with the context in which it is shown. That is a starting point for me in a lot of my work. When I was thinking about making working here one of the first things that came to my mind was the history of this place and that it was a florist previously. It struck me that for 98 years it was a florist before it was a gallery. I felt that for some reason the com-munity could sustain it as a florist for that time but then something must have taken place that meant this could no longer happen. So I wanted to do something that addressed the notion of sustenance and how things are maintained. In this piece these flowers are sustained by this external thing (the dehumidifier). I also wanted the work to have fragility to it so that you cant be sure whether these plants will survive or not
Audience: Im interested in the man made aspect, using dehumidifiers, an inanimate object, to sustain the plants. How is this different to water-ing them?
LD: If I was just to water the plants that would be a very stable relation-ship and you could rely on that to happen. But this man made object is affected by lots of things. For example us being here tonight will help generate more moisture for the plants. So this external, man-made, thing is subject to more variables. Where as if I was just watering the plants I would not be constrained by the same variables. So regardless of what was happening around me the plants would still get water. Where as at the moment the plants do not have a reliable relationship with the dehu-
midifiers. For me that is a more realistic representation of society and culture generally: things are unstable, subject to change and you cant predict what is going to happen.
A: That relationship reflects the relationship between the community and the history of this place as a florist?
LD: That is part of it but it is quite a general point. The work aims to be quite general and open. But the idea that something is sustained, and re-lies on certain things to be in place for this to happen, is one of the main points of the work. I think that is indicative of any community as it relies on factors that are outside of its control to maintain its presence.
A: You said that more when more people come in the gallery it creates more moisture. How does that work?
LD: At the moment we are all breathing and our breath contains water vapour. The way these dehumidifiers work is to suck that air in and con-dense the water vapour. So on a wet day they will condense more water and this will then flow into the flowerbed.
A: So we are interacting with the work?
LD: Yes. Just by being here tonight you are effecting and participating in the work. Participation is a key part of the work. As well as the water vapour you are all producing all the plants you see here were brought to the gallery by people in the area.
A: How did they do this?
LD: Ok just to give some background information on the work. When the press release went out it asked people to bring plants to the gallery. They were told of the situation into which their plants would be going and given details of the galleries dimensions. Also they were told they would be watered by dehumidifiers. Other than that they were welcome to bring any plant along that they liked. So all the plants here are from people or groups who live and work in the area.
A: Did you specifically select certain plants for the flowerbeds?
LD: No that was done by Mark Brooks who ran the space as a florist pre-
viously and continues to run a florist in the area just opposite the gallery. Mark asked if on the evening he could do an arrangement and I felt this would be quite a nice gesture to have Mark come in and arrange the flow-ers. On the opening night Mark was given free rein to arrange the plants and it also gave us a chance to see Mark at work.
MR: These plants are going to be planted afterwards in a local garden?
LD: Yes they will and this is an important aspect of my work and what led to this piece being created. I have made work in the past that gets shown but then sits in a box in the house and doesnt go anywhere and I found this frustrating. You make this thing that you are really proud of, it gets shown for a week, then doesnt go anywhere. So I wanted to do some-thing where all the parts of it continued to be used afterwards. In this case well be giving all the plants to local groups.
A: How would you feel if they did die?
LD: Ive actually had a bad week thinking about this! I knew they hadnt been watered for a few days so by Tuesday I was worried and was hop-ing theyd be ok. I want them to do well and thrive. But Im also realistic and know that some wont do so well. It does feel like a responsibility as I have contrived the situation. So even though we were very open with people about what was going to happen to their plants I still feel respon-sible.
MR: All the materials that have been used you can recognise. They are everyday objects and within the context of the community, and especially the gallery, there is a massive history of using everyday objects. How do you use everyday objects to create conceptual art and also work with the community? It is a difficult balance to strike.
LD: Everyday objects are important I think. But we have to be care-ful about how we use them. Sometimes these objects are placed in the gallery and it seems like the act of re-contextualising it, by taking it from outside and placing it in the gallery, is enough to make it interesting. But I felt it was a bit boring to do work in that way. It felt lazy to just have these objects in the gallery and stare at them. With this work I tried to enter these objects into some sort of relationship that has a dynamic quality to it. So while all the objects are recognisable the relationship they have been entered into is not. That is how my work developed by using every-
day things but thinking how can I create some sort of spark or dialogue between the different parts. The reason that is important for me is that when you come in and see this work there is nothing technically difficult about it. You could go and buy these materials and make this for yourself. What is unique about it is the idea that generates it. Anyone can have an idea and it is not something that is constrained by financial or technical concerns. Hopefully this makes the point that art does not have to be made by someone who is technically gifted or well resourced. Instead all you have to do is think about the world in a certain way and you can do it. Maybe this is a little romantic but I think it is a beautiful, and simple, no-tion that all you need is an idea and you can make art.
MR: I suppose whatever happens it has still consistently thrown up inter-esting issues for people to talk about. The fact that we are all here having a discussion about this takes the whole concept of art and the gallery fur-ther because this could be seen as an art event. Art functions on so many different platforms and here we are as a community talking about these issues and the story continues.
LD: If it is unresolved then it promotes discussion. There is no right or wrong answer and no definite outcome. You have to speculate, talk about it, and it is a discussion that continues. This discussion is part of the work. People are coming together from different backgrounds, with various ideas, and this forms part of the work. Hopefully this keeps the conversation going.
With thanks to Shoreditch Trust, Hoxton Trust, St Marys Secret Garden, Mark Brooks and all the individuals who donated plants to the project .
Full transcript, more images, and details of the project available at: abrooksart.com
For more information on Lawrence Daley please visit: lawrencedaley.com
194-196 Hoxton StreetLondon N1 5LH