Tag Archives: Ideas

Installation Ideas – Objects – School Desk

When I first thought about this idea, I had originally wanted to make a film installation.  I thought about trying to make a large scale Newton’s Cradle which people would be able to move themselves and be part of the work and the film of the plimsolls etc would be projected toward it. However, I soon realized this would be extremely difficult task to undertake on my own. I then decided that I would simply produce a film piece which could be projected onto a white wall.  This did not sit well with me, as I enjoy using objects as well as film.  I felt that the use of physical elements would present more of an opportunity to evoke involuntary autobiographical memory within the viewer.

I started to think about my old school days and remembered the old wooden school desks with the lift-up lids.  After considering this further I thought that I could use the lid as a screen to project the film onto.  If I could remember these old desks, I was fairly certain that this would probably be a shared experience/memory with others.

Fortunately, I managed to source a school desk locally from ebay and I was extremely pleased with it.  As with most old school desks, there was doodles and marks etched into the wood.  I did not want to remove this as I felt it added to the authenticity, history and originality of the piece.  Furthermore, I find it quite interesting why people feel the need to make their mark on objects.

School desk. Image available at: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/School-Desk-1950-to-1960-/291118875157?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEWNX%3AIT&_trksid=p2047675.l2557&nma=true&si=pdEyMf60gdJAvOqHMg65ahfCsmA%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc
School desk. Image available at: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/School-Desk-1950-to-1960-/291118875157?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEWNX%3AIT&_trksid=p2047675.l2557&nma=true&si=pdEyMf60gdJAvOqHMg65ahfCsmA%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

Several months earlier, I had had a discussion with my tutor Edith Doove while undertaking my CURA301 project.  I was discussing scarification and Edith had mentioned a cathedral she had visited where tombs (from what I remember) had been etched into over the centuries with peoples names and dates (unfortunately I could not find an image to demonstrate this).  It would seem that mark making is humankind’s “defining language instinct” and a “fundamental human activity” (The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, 2013)  Perhaps we scribble as a child to work out the world around us – much like the early humans did while drawing their experiences on cave walls (Ibid). I also feel that to write one’s own name or mark (if too young or illiterate to write) could perhaps be a way of establishing your place within society or to reiterate a sense of recognition, belonging or self worth. I think these ideas work well as part of my project because I think that some children (or adults) can find it difficult to find their place within a peer group or society.  Adolescence can be a particularly confusing time in establishing who you really are as a person.


The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, (2013). [online] Available at: http://www.crafts.org.uk/getdoc/53e3d471-fc78-4c59-a6cd-20bffd71029d/Make-a-Mark_exhibition-notes_DGC13-notes.aspx [Accessed 4 Jun. 2014].

Ideas – Apple

I had decided I wished to create a film piece for my CURA300 studio practice and had already established that I wished to use the plimsolls and Newton’s Cradle in my work.

For me, the plimsolls had reminded me of my school days and as mentioned in previous posts, religion had played a part in how my experience affected me in a negative way.  I thought about another visual I could use to create a further semiotic meaning to the viewer which may hint toward the idea of religion.

As I already had two visuals which were somewhat pendulum based in composition – I thought about using an apple hanging from a tree which could be comparable to the metal spheres of the Newton’s Cradle.  The apple can have many symbolic meanings including:

  • Religion i.e. Garden of Eden > Eve > Temptation > Original Sin > Tree of Knowledge
Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve, 1507. Image available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/met-around-the-world/?page=10191&
Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve, 1507. Image available at: http://www.metmuseum.org/met-around-the-world/?page=10191&


  • Education i.e. the act of giving your teacher an apple – thought to have perhaps originated in early America when families would give apples to frontier teachers as part of their responsibility for looking after the teachers who taught their children – (Children’s Museum, 2013)
  • Physics – Gravity i.e. the story of how Sir Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravitation on witnessing a falling apple (Tiner, p28) – (this also links into my use of the Newton’s Cradle)
Sir Isaac Newton and the falling apple. Illustration taken from
Sir Isaac Newton and the falling apple. Illustration taken from p28 of Tiner, J. (2006). Exploring the world of physics. 1st ed. Green Forest, AR: Master Books.

There are possibly many other meanings the apple can have, but I am happy for the audience to interpret the addition of an apple depending on how they personally perceive it.


Tiner, J. (2006). Exploring the world of physics. 1st ed. Green Forest, AR: Master Books.

Children’s Museum (2013). Why Do Teachers Like Apples? – Children’s Museum | The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. [online] Childrensmuseum.org. Available at: http://www.childrensmuseum.org/blog/childrens-museum/why-do-teachers-like-apples [Accessed 4 Jun. 2014].

Ideas/Concept – Newton’s Cradle

As mentioned in an earlier post, I wished to use the image of the school plimsols hanging in the tree because it reminded me of my awkward school years as a child.  I was also surprised by how much these memories still effect how I perceive the world around me and how negative experiences can continue to haunt an individual and impact one’s  life regardless of the years that pass.

On watching the plimsolls swaying in the wind, it reminded me of a Newton’s Cradle – the shoes acted as the suspended spheres while the laces took the place of the wires.

Newton's Cradle. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Newton’s Cradle. Photograph by Helanie Moore

In terms of semiotics and visual metaphor, I felt that the Newton’s Cradle could also signify a singular, central figure surrounded by ongoing tension.

This could be applied to life experiences and in the case of the narrative I had created with the regard to the shoes, it could also relate to how a vulnerable adolescent may feel at school.

In David Chandler’s book Semiotics: the basics he highlights how the visual metaphor is used in film and advertising:

Metaphor need not be verbal.  In film, a pair of consecutive shots is metaphorical when there is an implied comparison of the two shots. For instance, a shot of an aeroplane followed by a shot of a bird flying would be metaphorical, implying that the aeroplane is (or is like) a bird.  So to would a shot of a bird landing accompanied by the sound of an airport tower and of a braking plane […] As with verbal metaphors we are left to draw our own conclusions as to the points of comparison (Chandler, 2007, p127)

There is also the idea of time passing with the continuous ticking as the spheres hit each other.  This could relate to the idea of how earlier experiences can be carried throughout life – consciously and subconsciously.  Also, as a child – I know from my own experience that time seemed to pass really slowly and it felt like I was at school forever.  However, as an adult I have noticed that it seems time passes a lot quicker – even though there is no actual slowing or quickening of time in reality.

Chandler also cites linguist George Lakoff and philosopher Mark Johnson’s principles of metaphor which I could consider in my work:

Text taken from: Chandler, D. (Semiotics: The Basics) p128
Text taken from: Chandler,  D. (2007) Semiotics: The Basics. New York: Routledge, p128

In their book Metaphors We Live By Lakoff and Johnson also discuss how one’s “conceptual system […] is fundamentally metaphorical by nature” and is not something we are necessarily aware of (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980, p3).  I found this train of thought extremely interesting in terms of how our conscious and subconscious perception works and how this relates to how one makes comparisons to things they come across on a daily basis without even realizing – much like my own experience of the plimsolls and Newton’s Cradle.


Chandler,  D. (2007) Semiotics: The Basics. New York: Routledge

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University of Chicago

CURA300 Studio Practice Initial Ideas – Plimsolls

In my practical work I have often been interested in communicating ideas around social well-being through the use of recognizable symbols.  I also use my own experiences as a source of inspiration, but try to use ideas which could be cross-transferable to individuals.  Using objects, images and symbols I aim to create a narrative open to interpretation but which the viewer could perhaps empathize or find some familiarity within the work.

In terms of perception and objects, I had come across something which had created a narrative within my mind and brought about uncomfortable memories of my adolescent school days.  The ‘phenomenon’ in question was a pair of plimsolls (black trainer shoes) hanging from a tree that I had noticed over the past two years when walking my daughter to school.  For some reason and perhaps because of my own experiences, my perception of these plimsolls gave me a troublesome feeling in the pit of my stomach.  On witnessing these abandoned shoes I built up a narrative in my head that they had got there, through some kind of bullying incident between school children.  That perhaps a group of ‘popular’ kids had stolen the shoes from a vulnerable classmate and lobbed them in the tree for a laugh – much to the dismay of the shoe-less child.  I, of course cannot be sure of how these shoes had got in the tree and for all I knew, someone could have chucked their own shoes in the tree in the hope that their parents would buy them a new pair.  Nevertheless, I could not help feeling some sense of empathetic trauma every time I passed the tree.

Plimsolls hanging in tree. Photograph by Helanie Moore
Plimsolls hanging in tree. Photograph by Helanie Moore

I did not particularly enjoy my years at secondary school and was never one of the popular kids.  I was also subjected to bullying because of my religious upbringing which made me an easy target for prejudice and harassment.

With this in mind, I felt I could use this image in my practical work because of the strong effect it had had on me and perhaps it could potentially have some relevance to other people too.


27/02/2014: Meeting with Rebecca Wickes and Anthony Cockell

On Thursday 27 February 2014 the students met with Rebecca Wickes, National Trust and Anthony Cockell, Gardener of Saltram House at Studio 11.  Below are brief notes I took during the meeting:

Earliest starting date: Monday 23 June 2014
Needs to be emptied/cleared by: Thursday 7th August 2014
Possible performance
dates(Jem Williams advised that Janine Rook would be happy to assist):  any date between Monday 23 June and Sunday 27 July -the earlier the better (bear in mind open air evening performance of Pirates of Penzance is on Friday 4th July)

Possible assistance:
Deep Blue Sound (Rebecca’s husband is a lecturer) – sound:
They will need a detailed plan/proposal asap – also possibility of using their equipment (Jem Williams and Reiss Portman have been given a freestanding board during their Bbroots project which we could use/adapt as a sound board).
Saltram House Tour Guide – literature info:
Can give further historical info and also have access to Saltram archives (won’t have to contact Devon Records Office).

Travel Expenses:
Rebecca to sign us up as National Trust Volunteers so that travel expenses can be claimed.

Press Release:
National Trust can provide press release template. Will also need to liaise with PCA Marketing Team.

Seating etc:
Saltram House currently in the process of obtaining furniture for chapel tearoom and there may be a surplus of items we can use. Also Rebecca suggested looking at knightssurplus.co.uk, Little Camden Market etc.  (We could create a seating area within the orangery to allow visitors to sit, relax and listen to the sound piece – creating a social hub).

Contact info:

04/02/2014 – Group meeting/sound recording

On Tuesday 4 February 2014, the group discussed ideas for the Saltram House Orangery exhibition.

It was suggested that we move forward with the sound piece idea and perhaps record some readings of historical literature which connects to Saltram House.  Jem Williams noted that she could contact Janine Rook – a lady who had taken part in a performance workshop (attended by myself, Jem and Reiss Portman) who had a good speaking, mediative quality to her voice.  We discussed the possibility of having a live performance, if Janine would be happy to assist.

Following the meeting, myself and Will Danby took some sound recording equipment to Saltram House to record some of the natural sounds of the area.  These recordings were purely experimental and the examples recorded such as walking over the gravel, the trees rustling in the wind and the water fountain, could be fed back to the rest of the group to discuss the effect they could create.



06/03/2014 – Measuring central space of Council House

On Thursday 6 March 2014 myself, Kath Howard and Jess Bent visited the Council House to measure the central space to see how the viewfinder would fit in the space.

I later created some draft plans of how and where the sculpture could be placed:


We had to consider how people would be able to move around the sculpture and therefore did not think that the viewfinder should be completely central – allowing movement between the sculpture and pillars (black rectangles on image above). There are also chairs and tables in the space and we deduced that the size of the viewfinder and foyer space would still allow for this.

We also discussed what we could place on the walls to compliment the sculpture.  Jess suggested displaying our sketches of the viewfinder i.e. our rough and more perfected sketches could be collaged together in frames on the walls surrounding the viewfinder.  I also suggested that we could take some close-up photos of the Council House features and put them through a photographic kaleidoscopic effect editor to create new abstract images of the features.  Kath took some photos and later posted the images she had edited on our facebook group page:

Kath Howard’s edited photographs of Council House features through 8-sided kaleidscope editing effect:


The group all agreed that these images worked really well in abstracting the features and also added some visual curiousity for the viewer.