meadowsweet for millstones
Meadowsweet is a plant known to decrease inflammation, she is full of salicylic acid, she thrives in wet meadows and swamps. In 1897, Felix Hoffmann created a synthetically altered version of salicin, derived from the species. The new drug, formally acetylsalicylic acid, was named aspirin by Bayer AG after the old botanical name for Meadowsweet, Spiraea Ulmaria. This gave rise to the class of drugs known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). A lot can be held in a name.
I’ve relied on NSAIDS since childhood but rarely thought about its origin. Living with chronic pain with a body reliant on pharmaceuticals normalizes synthetic consumption. The emphasis is on short term benefit, on pain relief. I see this seeking of relief mirrored in the visual worlds I make, and my draw to synthetic materiality through the constant impulse to consume through thrifting, collecting and hoarding.
My process is rooted in the trial and errors of making and accumulation. I embrace the breakdown and failure of objects and my own hand, often reworking broken pieces or building upon finished works until they make a new whole. It’s a whole that feels ready according to an internal logic and aesthetic but could be changed in a day or year from now. I am interested in the role of fate and chance, how a loose grip or an accidental bump leads down a new path. I see the ceramic process intrinsically tied to letting go to a power greater than myself. Ceramics can be predictable, you can test glazes to know their outcomes and work with one clay body and learn its behaviours, but clay holds memory. It warps and freezes in the firing depending on how you held it when it was wet and mouldable. I see beauty in working for the unpredictable, and embracing whatever happens to the clay during firing and the mixing of minerals that melt into a glossy skin.
These works live on a tiled base, squares that make a whole, their materiality comes from home improvement isles and uses prop making tricks learned from working on T.V commercials. The grid is familiar, it references game boards and an instagram scroll. It is the footprint of a living room rug. We view art digitally through square photo boxes and reward what can translate through a screen with a like and a share.
Meadowsweet for Millstones was made during my residency at the Visual Arts Centre of Richmond and shown as part of the exhibition Soft Pleats in the True Luck Gallery. Thankyou to Margaret Meehan for her most thoughtful curation, and my fellow residents Diana Antohe, Rosa Castellano and William Lenard. This work could not have been made without the team at Visarts and their support <3