On display at ‘Pissing Up A Wall’

‘Who I am and What I want’

Carpet (painting)(landscript) #pretentious #20thcenturyproblems

Main ideas I was investigating:

  • How we relate to our environment
  • How I could play with the usual ‘grammar’ of art to change the nature of interface between audience and work
  • Thinking about things that exist at the periphery of consciousness, but also in plain sight
  • Celebrating the individuality of the banal
  • Thinking about ‘new nature’, and ‘new traditional materials’.


With this piece, I wanted to think about our relationship with our environment. Firstly there is the initial idea of trash being all around us, but only visible to us when it is highlighted as these altered objects are. However a deeper idea I wanted to explore was the idea of parity. We have a tendency to see our environment as ‘other’ to us. However, we are equal to our environment and inseparable from it.

By making these items colourful and beautiful I wanted to think of them as beautiful items, at least as beautiful as we are, and not something that can be compartmentalised and removed from our consciousness. Once this attitude is engaged it is applicable across contexts to open up a dialogue about our relationships with all things that surround us.

I also wanted to play with the viewer-object relationship. As a ‘carpet’, that is, covering the floor of a display space, the interface with it would be on the periphery of the consciousness of the viewer, with them constantly kicking the pieces around, with it constantly invading their thoughts. Possibly this would be on a subconscious level which can be more affecting than a conscious one – common ground with the trash this originally was. Laying the work at the viewer’s feet is an inversion of the normal grammar of art, and the viewer-object relationship. 

Personally, I found the relationship between the paint and the objects interesting. Where does the identity of the object lie? It is not intended as a tromp l’oeil, and the items being authentic is important. However they have been stripped of the identity of branding and so on to be only a generalised version (i.e. a coffee cup, rather than a Starbucks coffee cup). In this way this returns to them a sense of dignity – they are more relateable in their altered state than they were before. If the paint is the act of changing identity, does the paint hold the items, or the other way around?

I feel the biggest problem with this piece is scale. My original vision of it was a gallery room filled with this rubbish – an overwhelming amount which would leave a lasting impression on a viewer. However in practice there was not enough to make the point. Although a lesser amount, I feel, does have a visual quality, it does not engage with the ideas as I intended, and so could not be seen as a success or as resolved at this point. However it was a point of thought as I was developing ideas.

I feel the experience of it would be highly subjective, and I wouldn’t expect the viewer to experience all of these different ideas, however the piece is intended as a proposition and starting point. I enjoy the idea that the piece is quite fun, and if taken to its originally intended conclusion (a gallery space filled with it or at least with the floor covered in the presence of other art works), it would make an engaging insertion into a space.

I gave it this title in the end as a reference to the waste becoming like a portrait. It talks about what we desire and how it can end up defining us, as well as the idea that ‘you can judge a society well by it’s shit’.

This was displayed in the MAFA Gallery show ‘Pissing up a Wall which was a show with the concept of using found items.

Lawrence Blackman