Decalcomania

Imaginary railway objects 2011

Beginning with terms taken from the railway dictionary, and obstinately blind to their original definition, new object-subjects were be intuitively fabricated. These artworks (‘faux’-artefacts) were then inserted into cabinets within the National Railway Museum, York in April 2011.

Decalcomania is a collaborative project between Suzi Tibbetts and Hermione Spriggs.

Sheer Leg
Switch Diamond

Current Obsession.:

You have a MA in Goldsmithing and Silversmithing given by RCA, but judging by the sequence of your projects, you have been moving towards installation and audio work. Do you think your fascination with object intervention grew out of the human body scale? Or the interest was never about the wearability?

Suzi Tibbetts.:

I have an interest in the objects and spaces that affect the human body, as well as those that we construct as a consequence of being. Much of my fascination with object intervention grew out of the human body scale, although my interest has never specifically been about wearability, only interactivity. I seek to explore the use, matter and space surrounding everyday objects, those that form an integral role within our daily activities and environments.
I’m currently doing a PhD in the archives at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, assembling ‘knowledge’ by delving through the memories and artefacts of the past.
With a background in anthropology Hermione Spriggs is a research-based artist whose work explores the human sensorium in relation to the landscape; it’s non-human inhabitants and matters of navigation. Hermione is currently in San Diego, doing an MA in Studio Art Practice, so our communication and collaboration travels 5000 miles.

C.O.:

Could tell us more about Decalcomania, from the present point of view in time, as it has been almost a year since you have realized this project.

S.T.:

Our imaginative impostors sought to pose a challenge to the singular authority of text and its object. They likewise challenged the visitor to double take, to engage with their surroundings on a more profound level. We are interested in the inherently ambiguous nature of things, their conflicting and often multiple histories, and their web-like connectedness with elements external to the museum exhibit. Though this subtle intervention within the context of the Museum, we wanted to lie bare the vulnerability of objects.
We produced a guide to the hidden works, a treasure-hunt-like trail through existing collections. This, our own visual ‘dictionary of terms’, encouraged the visitor to engage with the work, to find fresh intrigue within existing object constellations. An offer was made to the visitor to make their own interpretation of titles such as ‘Queen Post’, ‘Shoebeam’, and ‘Pantograph’. These were collected and the imaginative designs compared. Despite a limited number left to us, this was one of the most exciting results of the project – to see other constructs of these objects and their uses. It was the part we would like to explore more in the future.

C.O.:

Why did you choose this title for the work?

S.T.:

Decalcomania became our title due to the term’s association with Max Ernst and the Surrealist ‘butterfly’ prints, images produced through two halves of a page coming together to form one image through ‘objective chance’. We two were brought together to produce our objects; an amalgamation of intuitive qualities and materials.

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