A blank canvas is the usual means by which an artist begins their creations; an entire blank room therefore presents an unusual and e xciting challenge. This was the case earlier this year, when artists David Bridgeman, Kaitlyn Elphinstone and Nickola McCoy were presented with bare walls, floor and ceilings at the National Gallery, as part of the Gallery’s second residency programme and exhibition, entitled A Day in the Life II. Business Editor, Lindsey Turnbull reports.
The artists’ brief was to create an exhibition over a two-week period, under the constant gaze of the passing public and with total freedom to explore any subject matter they desired. The exhibition then ran for a short while earlier this year to allow visitors to appreciate the final results of the artists’ endeavours.
Artist David Bridgeman knew exactly how he was going to transform his share of the Gallery space: “When the Gallery said I could have an entire room to do what I wanted I decided to combine the natural backdrop from the two countries in which I have lived – England and Cayman – into one big installation piece.”
Thus David, along with trusty helper Linda Parsons, began cutting bluebell shaped pieces of carpet using three standard templates, in a bid to cover the floor area with that most traditional of English flowers. The ‘flowers’ were then stitched together in an intricate pattern like a huge jigsaw puzzle, just as bluebells would carpet an English woods. The walls would reflect the Cayman-side of the equation, with strips of red, brown and beige carpet reflecting David’s love of Cayman’s Red Birch trees that are so prevalent in the area of West Bay in which he resides. Indeed, Red Birch trees have often been the subject of David’s artistic interest, frequently popping up in his paintings and drawings.
David says: “The idea was to try and create a kind of collage, created almost as an extension of my painting, in a cartoon-like manner with bold shapes and colours, so the approach I took was much the same as with my drawing.”
Stepping into the finished result, although there was a bright, texture-filled carpet to welcome the viewer, there was also a certain darkness to David’s installation, brought about by the walls painted black against which the Red Birch trees perched, as if the forest was somehow closing in.
David says the effect was deliberate: “In creating this installation I wanted to explore and reflect happy childhood memories of playing in the woods; yet at the same time memories are not always happy. Woodlands can sometimes be places of isolation so I wanted to create an air of mystery – something with an edge.”