Using Artist Multiples with Interior and Spatial Design Students, Cassey Sachar, Chelsea College of Arts UAL
Cassey gave a lively and interesting presentation about how objects within the Library’s Special Collections can be used to help inspire students’ creativity. The rich Special Collections include 500 Artists Multiples – instead of an artist creating a unique item, many of the same object are produced, normally created through an industrial process rather than through traditional craft. Sessions are run for students using examples such as:
‘The Perfect Match’ (1996) by Peter Liversidge: a pair of men’s slippers with football studs on the soles, in a shoebox. In this artwork a familiar domestic object has been altered to provoke surprise and humour. Students are encouraged to ask questions, exploring the narrative and context associated with the artwork.
The Multiples Store commissions Artist’s Multiples and encourages collecting of this type of art. The objects are often sold more cheaply and aim to change how people interact with art. It came out of the utopian dream of creating art for all. Other examples of Artists Multiples includes Bob & Roberta Smith’s plaster cast of a cow labelled ‘I paid Bob and Roberta Smith £4.99 for this’. The work investigates the tensions between art and money.
For interior and spatial design students in an Art School context, the Special Collections sessions aim to inspire practice. Students have responded really well to the sessions, looking at objects such as David Shrigley’s ‘Salt & Pepper Shakers’ (2008) in which the shakers labelled ‘Cocaine’ and ‘Heroin’ contain an element of humour. The objects encourage you to ask questions, and offer an alternative conceptual way of exploring domesticity, taking an object which is really familiar and turning it on its head. A further example is Damien Hirst’s ‘Home Sweet Home’ (1996) which is a plate used as an ashtray.
The sessions also include exploration of the materiality of objects. Students are encouraged to use touch to explore an object and understand how it works. Lorna Simpson
Sessions also support specific student projects such as designing a doll’s house: students were able to interact with Yinka Shonibare’s ‘Untitled (Dollhouse),’ 2002. This dollhouse is a replica of the 1872 Victorian town house in the East End of London where Shonibare now lives. Another project involved students being asked to design a chair for someone eccentric.
Artists don’t just focus on domestic objects. Graham Gussin and Jeremy Millar’s work ‘Key to an abandoned airport’ (2000), looked at associations of narrative and place. Mark Pawson’s ‘Bicycle Wheel Theft’, enamel plaque (1995), encouraged you to share in his experience.
Cassey argues that object based learning is a powerful tool, providing something tangible in a digital age. People are able to experience objects emotionally which makes for a deeper experience. Cassey has inspired us all to look at our special collections from a new perspective to see if we can engage students in new ways.
Review by Elaine Cooke, Manchester Metropolitan University
Images – photographs of student artworks on display in the Reid Building at GSA during our visit, taken by David Stacey