“I actually come from industry; I’m an interior designer by trade, and was for about 14 years.
This MA, I’ve been trying not to rely on normal CAD packages that I’ve used forever. I’ve been trying to experiment and use different mediums and techniques. So I’ve started doing animation, I’ve gone back to hand drawing and actually building. Contrasting large scales. I’ve really wanted to push myself.
I think, I just wanted a change because I’d spent fourteen years working very long hours. Rush rush rush in London. And also because the market is so volatile it’s very up and down. I just felt that I wasn’t really enjoying it very much any more so I wanted a new challenge. I wanted to get into teaching, become a lecturer. So I was hoping that this MA would help me with that. It reaffirmed that I wanted to do that.
I’ve been concentrating on Boscombe as my site and it was quite by accident that I did that. I have very distant connections with Boscombe, I went to Shelley Park there as an art student, and I’ve been renting an arts studio there for a couple of years. When I moved back from South Korea I was there for a few years teaching English. It’s (Boscombe) always been an area that’s fascinated me, because it’s got such a reputation and it’s been an opportunity for me to actually look at it, in a positive light and actually discover all these fantastic stories about it, and it’s amazing past. So my Masters, this project I’ve called ‘What Lies Beneath’ and it’s about what lies beneath in the metaphorical sense about Victorian ideals when the town was built by Archibald Beckett. Victorian morals were all about sobriety and they way people acted. It was very different to what it is like now, you look now and people are drunk or on drugs. I was also looking at it in that sense and the Boscombe Tardis being put in as permanent Police presence, to deal with all the anti social behaviour.
Normally they have a police van, along the local precinct, but the local shops and offices thought that it would be quite a good idea, and a twist and a tourist attraction to actually build a Boscombe style Tardis, to draw in the visitors and be a police presence. There’s an emergency phone and a community officer there a lot of the time, and inside they have a defibrillator. A fully functional box. So I was looking at the Tardis, and discovering old stories throughout my Masters, and thought where can they be? They were just in dusty old drawer in Bournemouth library, I wanted people to know about these stories. I was looking at the O2 building which used to be called the Hippodrome as some sort of vessel. I was looking religious connotations to do with Boscombe, it used to be very religious. Before it showed very serious plays, but in 1905 they began doing performances and circus acts with animals. Opposite the hippodrome a gargoyle was erected called ‘Nasty Nick’ which was a devil, its holding a shield against all the evils that went on in the hippodrome.
The owners of the Hippodrome were so worried about entering the building on a Sunday they erected the face of an angel, in the auditorium. So that when people when in to watch these performances, all was forgiven because the angle was looking down on them.
The other thing that grabbed my attention, that got to me was the story about tunnels underneath Boscombe. Circus acts used to come and perform in the building weekly, people say that if you look at the main door of the Hippodrome you couldn’t get an elephant in there, or the other large animals.
So there are these supposed tunnels that ran below, that come all the way from King’s Park. All my project is about these tunnels, what lies beneath. So the Victorian morals and what physically lies beneath. I’ve done some investigations and some screen printing. Elephants feature very largely in my work, because there is a fantastic picture. So all these acts that went on there, all these creatures that performed there regularly. It’s amazing. When I was looking at the building and imagining, I tried to find architectural drawings about the hippodrome. I can’t get hold of them, they’re inaccessible. So like the Titanic, we can’t get to it. So It feeds the imagination, like were there really elephants underneath Boscombe? It would have to be a big tunnel! Looking at animals from an architectural point of view, how big wold the tunnel have to be? How dark and claustrophobic would it have been? Today, if these tunnels do exist and everyday life is going on above it. Reality and below is fantasy. I’ve got a small animation to show with that. The tunnels would have been a mile long or something, Zebras, Polar bears.
I had a walk around the O2 academy. The technician showed me a service ladder; the problem is no one has been into these tunnels for years. They wouldn’t be safe. I’ve been working in conjunction with the Boscombe tour guide, and he remembers seeing circuses camp at the park. I’ve used these tunnels saying that the Tardis is here, the tunnels are all connected and the Tardis is like a portal. With the connotations from Dr Who, and time travel the portal can take you somewhere. In my Tardis however, you will only be transported through the animation.
The Tardis is a reconstruction, is cardboard. It really challenged me as I haven’t used it on this scale. It used 500 glue sticks and 120 sheets of card. You can take it to bits, and rebuild it elsewhere. I was influenced by Tom Hall, the fine art lecturer Chasing Sputnick, that exhibition blew me away.
Spatial practices is very free, using the concept of space, and people moving through it. With the Card, its to do with packaging, it can all be flat packed. With the Tardis phone, I’ve put my dissertation as the A-Z Boscombe book. I did a degree in Interior Design in 97’ having not written an essay in years. I’ve had a great time on this course!”