Out where the wall ends, everything they once knew is returning to the earth.
The Portable Wonder Chamber - salt, bones, and the residue of all that returned to the Philosophers’ Table
4000 books and 23 square meters of living turf growing in the great hall of the Castle Keep, Newcastle
There Are Gods Beneath Our Feet - the culmination of my year in residence with the Society of Antiquaries.
Archive an installation by Dawn Felicia Knox featuring the Book Apothecary currently on display at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts
A strange structure grew and curved under a bridge in the Ouseburn, Newcastle one Monday night. What began as a temporary book shelter changed with each book laid, spine out to the street, camouflaging against the red of the brick. It rose up chest height like a breastwork, a trench, a bunker. From the street it nearly disappeared but between the white belly of the books and the rough bridge wall was enough space to shelter.
In the morning it was gone.
Dawn Felicia Knox’s contribution to Book Borrowers explore the nature of books, articulating the way they take up physical space while affording the mental space for understanding, refuge and transformation. She has created a monument in Everything They Knew the Year My Mother Was Born which is a collection of Encyclopaedia Britannica from 1951, the year of her mother’s birth. She has further used books as building blocks to create a temporary structure which mirrors a military breastwork, a fortification to protect from advancing soldiers. This is the second in a series which stands to confront the closure of libraries and the defunding of art and culture. Papier-mâché birds, made from a damaged volume of The War Illustrated, rise up from the temporary sculpture appearing to fly into the gallery.
The Forgetting Curve
A forgetting curve is the opposite of learning curve
it is the rate at which we forget,
the curve we follow as knowledge falls away.
Hundreds of rolled plans hand draw with great attention and care were left to come down with the building. These plans once were the hallmark of drafting before computer aided drafting became the expected form. Intrigued by these now archaic plans and their specialized language of symbols and shapes, I brought them from the factory by the arm full.
You see, after 90 years of continual fit and fix the factory had been abandoned. Tools were left to rust. Plans to pool dust. The rafters had given way to pigeons. I was invited in to make artwork about it all before it was demolished.
In my studio I unrolled the plans and then began to rip. I turned them to birds and the egg shells - the elevator shaft of Northern Rock becoming wing, the butcher case of Dickinson’s an egg. I took them, both made birds and eggs, into the factory to photograph them.
Later, in the gallery I laid out the plans across of opened ladders taken from the belly of the shop fitters stringing the birds and nestling the eggs around the curve of the stacked plans. I recreated the building as it was left; pitched roof lines originally for maximized space and light now given away to the birds.
Then I photographed it all, printed the images on the plans and bound them. The handmade book is featured in The Sunderland Book Project.
All is changing, transforming. Each time we interact with a book we mark it, change it, transform it. The oils of fingers on the page yellow and thin. Threads loosen with each reading. Bindings crack. Breath combines with trace metals caught in the pulp of the paper turning them to rust, leaving marks, foxing. A hand must work constantly to keep things appearing the same – ever stitching, ever mending.
Or the hand could hasten the transformation - turn page to wing, set it to flight.
Maps, letters, lenses and a Venus figure are among the objects filling this case. Some were taken from the archives of the Great North Museum, other saved from the skip and a few made by the artist’s hand. Which is art and which is artefact? Which has value? To whom? These are just a few of the questions being explored in this work.
It began with a hunger, a split rib and spinning, always spinning….
Come early and see the objects displayed as part of Into the Curious