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2008 - 2009

Blackout

 

Blackout 1 (ceramic light bulb on fabric cushion)

 

Blackout II (detail)

 

Blackout II (ceramic black light bulb, white porcelain light bulbs & wire)

 

Blackout II (detail)

 

Lost and Found (12 porcelain light bulbs in handmade black felt box)

 

Lost and Found (detail)

 

 

Lost and Found was inspired by a newspaper article in 2006 about the discovery of a box of Thomas Edison’s light bulbs in an attic in the USA. They were used in the court case in 1890 to prove Edison’s patent and had long been considered lost. With the current demand for more energy efficient lighting, the familiar bulb is now coming in new shapes and sizes. As some are lost, either thrown away, or kept as museum relics, new ones are developed to take their place.

I began to research the history of lightbulbs (or lamps as they should be more accurately named) and discovered all kinds of bulbs, museums of light bulbs, and a website filming the oldest existing lightbulb. I was particularly drawn to the blackout bulbs, used during the Second World War, but now rare. This black bulb which blacked out light to keep people safe during the war also has resonances today, as unsustainable forms of energy are threatening the future safety of the planet. Blackout I and II draw attention to the wasteful environmental impact of inefficient sources of light.  Yet they also celebrate the  form and shape of the classic light bulb, its connection to progress and development, and how it symbolically represents thoughts and ideas. It is still a strikingly simple and aesthetically satisfying object.

Blackout I , Blackout II and Lost and Found although separate works, together form an installation that is connected through underlying ideas of blackout, in either materials or colour; contrasts in tone and texture; how museums and taxonomy select, value and display items; environmental and energy issues, and the familiar, everyday, yet often discarded form of the bulb itself.

These works were made whilst artist-in-residence at Oxford & Cherwell Valley College and were exhibited alongside the end of year shows at the College, June 2008. Blackout I was also exhibited at at the Mill Arts Centre in Banbury, May 2008.