York based initiative New Voice Project continues to explore the cultural side of York through the prism of its young scribes, Freya Singh and Lorenzo Conti. This week they take a trip to St Mary’s Church, the world class art space at Castle Gate. True to form, Freya observed both the art and its author, Susan Aldworth, whilst Lorenzo focused on the impression imparted by the exhibition, ‘The Dark Self’.
Says Freya, “ Susan Aldworth focuses on the experience of sleep. The ideas behind the project is to challenge individuals into having a period of reflection upon the movement of ‘consciousness to oblivion’.” That sounds pretty heavy going. Freya continues, “1001 nights, part of the series, is a physical installation of 414 pillow cases, with more added all the time, that have various embroidered imagery. The installation is a collaboration with 414 people who came together to design and produce the pillow cases. The pieces are hung in the nave of St. Mary’s church. The collection, as well as the series, was inspired by the poem “the clothes of heaven” by Y.B. Yeats. The clothes here, it would seem, are the pillowcases, which help us all drift to sleep. The connotations with religion are light but effective.”
Aldworth also exhibits another collection, this time of monoprints, which are all called ‘The Dark Self’. Freya is enthusiastic about this aspect of the show, “The prints are of pillowcases that seem to have a variation of feathers coming out of the center. I personally find the whole series, including 1001 nights as well as The Evidence Of Sleep I,II and III, wholeheartedly ironic. The irony comes from the surrounding of the series, the church, and the subject of the series, sleep, and how the deceased are essentially asleep under this sleep themed installation.”
Alongside Freya, Lorenzo brings his own inimitable appreciation of the exhibition. Says he afterwards, sipping a cappuccino at nearby Tower Vue café, “I consider the artist an engine for invention and experimentation. As a matter of fact, she has branched out into giving an original interpretation of our sleeping lives. The pillowcases on show are witness to the brain activity we experience during the night, when our sleep is still thought to be a state of non-being. From now on, “meaningless nights” no longer exist for me!”
Lorenzo continues, “When you enter the exhibition space, you enter a dream. The pillowcases fall down from the huge ceiling. They’re only waiting for you to pick them up. Every pillowcase shares a story of sleep. Every sleep story is about a different enchanted soul. I wasn’t just taken by surprise, but it gave me a sense of wonder. I saw on a pillowcase, on 404 pillowcases, what I feel I’ve always dreamed. The wonder is hidden here: you are in a familiar scene. However, it’s one you’ve never seen before.
This is an exhibition with an atmosphere that will stay with you for days. Haunting stuff.”
The Dark Self runs at St Mary’s Church, Castle Gate, until 21st July.