I was rather surprised that my last minute offer to the organisers of Tent London, proved appealing to them. I told them that my work was what Tent needed; it occupies a large space and I simply couldn’t afford to pay! Cheek. There was the usual silence following such bold challenges, then two weeks before the show opened, I was offered a great spot ON MY OWN with a wonderful Czech Republic glass stand (and bar!) opposite. I worried about what I was letting myself in for. Setting up with the help of artist Joe Winter meant that I kept my sanity. The beautiful footage shot by Kim Boome was made in to loop by Joe, and projected beside The Changing Room and I managed to make the comfortable seating to go inside the piece, just in time for the opening. Blimey. My first trade fair. The following four days were like a whirlwind. We ran out of business cards on the first day and had to resort to my tiny old business cards until the new ones came in. People were just captivated by the work and our hands grew sore from constantly raising and lowering the structure using the pulley cord ( a new system is being trialed now, a hand saver!). It seemed to fire imaginations; I received enthusiastic enquiries from architects, interior designers, promoters of luxury products, therapeutic centres, product designers and investors, and events organisers. Perhaps the most heart-warming though, were the responses from two separate autistic boys who visited over the weekend with their families. They were both becalmed by the experience of being enclosed by the structure, and one boy refused to leave. I managed to get people to write in the visitors book toward the end of the show, knowing that I would forget most of the wonderful things people said. Here’s a list of some of the comments;
“This is a magnificent work of art!”
“How absolutely delightful, peaceful and calming”
“Thank you, I didn’t want to leave” (This was said by too many visitors to count)
“It’s a great way to de-stress our autistic boy who is very sensitive to noise, it is so enjoyable in fact, it was his favourite part of the exhibition.
“It’s like being hugged by a building”
“What an incredible idea, wow! I didn’t want to leave”
” Lovely moment of womb-like cosyness”
“It’s like stealing a moment-blissful!”
” The safe space”
“…. it’s always good to see people trying to push the boundaries of how people interact with space and elements, I’m a fan.”
“…I still consider your installation one of the most interesting ones at Tent last week..
” This is the best installation or creation I have seen through this Design week”
Well how’s that for affirmation!
So I think it was all worthwhile. Perhaps it was the perfect venue to present such an ambiguous work? It is both object and experience; It is a thing, and yet it allows people to be separated from things that clamour for their attention. I am interested in pursuing any enquiry that allows me to develop and explore the potential of this work to change the world! I have a meeting with the head of a special school for autistic boys who is very interested in trying out something in his school. I will report on this when there is news. And there are many email enquiries to deal with too.
In the meantime, I have decided it’s time to give these structures, for there are now five to date, a generic term. TING. The word sounds bell-like and is also suitably ambiguous, if a little colloquial. So henceforth, The Changing Room Ting. And the seat inside; The Seat-Ting etc.
A thing (!) that I noticed; Around 1/2 the people wanted to know if it would be possible to raise the structure and lower it from the inside. Of course this would be possible, and perhaps desirable in a private home or private suite of rooms. I however, was charmed by the interaction we had with the public who graciously asked permission to enter and experience the piece, and whilst inside, they knew that the space was protected by us, the attendants if you like. Like guardians of the space. And when we raised the Ting aloft again, this signalled a time to depart and to acknowledge that they’d had a transformative experience (in most cases). I feel that this is what many public places need and I’d love to offer this.