Over the past two years I have been researching and compiling evidence and ideas towards a life of Frances Darlington. I have been writing her biography whilst simultaneously aligning this with my own creative practise.
My work previous to this has dwelt upon mans positioning in the universe and on the existential philosophies projected by man on his ‘thrown’ state. Focussing on an individual has been a valuable exercise in progressing through this paradox of chance and free will, of determinism and chaos. In the past I have used games to magnify these themes, but observing how an individual was shaped by her forebears, by her historical and geographical context and by her determination that her gender should not be an obstacle has been something of a proverbial grain of sand in observing the whole universe. This was one of my working titles for the body of work. Otherwise I was informed by a sense of imbalance in the perpetuation of reputation / association through name – something women lose the chance of when they marry – there can be no Darlington and Daughters…
As Frances Darlington was a sculptor I wanted to make some three dimensional works. I started by producing a small figurine in self hardening clay, of the sculptor herself – a subject which, as far as we know, she never attempted. Following this I submerged images of her, and of her family and work into my favourite mediums of screen and print, and began screen printing the images. Following on from my interest in the image on a three dimensional plane (cf Pop Ups and Poems in Space, and other books in the Further Reading Installation in 2007) I decided to create a lantern book. The backing has a scanned image of a watercolour by Frances Darlington’s mother, then called Emma Taplin. Emma, who although evidently talented never trained as a professional artist; painting was her accomplishment. I therefore entitle the piece, it is a sculpture before it is a book I think, Monument to Obscurity.
Carrying on from my thoughts on the screen and on the combinations of pixels that constitute a whole picture I decided to use my grandmothers favourite metaphor for life, the tapestry as a cover for one edition of the work.
Like the first lantern book i made, these conform to the golden ratio pentagon star, and thus reference ideas about continuing inherent and intrinsic codes in our existence that imply some sort of order and design amidst all the chaos and apparent ‘thrown – ness’ of life.