The Twelve Keys

Commissioned by and shown at the Crossley Gallery, Dean Clough, Halifax.

installation shot installation shot

In this installation, Twelve window frames from Truro Works, an old cutlery factory are free-hung in front of photographic transparencies, objects such as scissors, keys and hair, which in turn are hung in front of individual lights, used to illuminate, cast shadows and draw the viewers attention to specific points in the work. The colour transparencies vary in size and are sandwiched between glass, akin to magic lantern slides. The light is instrumental in creating the effect and atmosphere of the installation, bringing some objects sharply into focus and distorting others - affecting a metamorphosis which reflects the nature of both the objects used and the content of the transparency images.

The frames are old, red and the glass is mostly opaque, made so by decades of grubby factory air and buffing stone. The photographic images from the installation shown here were set in and photographed within the frames themselves. In this way, the windows are a setting that bring with them their own innate sense of history within which other worlds can be contrasted. Constructed environments, almost subterranean in nature become a mirror for emotions concerned with passing time, change and growth. This translucency, silhouetting and layering of objects and creatures re-enforces impressions of presence, absence and growth. Seemingly insubstantial and fragile detritus often far outlast the more solid. The transparent glove, hand absent, reflects the absence of the snake from the discarded skin that it has outgrown.

Holland says, ‘I also hope to communicate some of what I felt when I initially explored Truro Works; the deep irony evoked by the sombre, dark interior, the lives spent working behind these windows contrasting with the beauty and spiritualistic aspect of the birds found within. Floats, hooks, weights and keys are used to express feelings of entrapment and being anchored, emphasizing the two contrasting forces in the work, one earthly, and the other ethereal. To me the birds represent freedom, flight and transience, and there is a fascination in something now earthbound, dead and decaying (and so, of course, can be closely observed), contrasted with their winged and spiritual potentiality.’

detail detail

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‘The Twelve Keys’ Photographic series 1994-5

Commissioned by and shown at the Crossley Gallery, Dean Clough, Halifax.
These photographs were taken over the space of a year, one each month, starting in December
1994 and ending with November, 1995.

Holland reflects the heat and cold, bleakness and fecundity of the seasons through the use of colour, form, texture and a diverse range of disparate found objects The images are about change and growth; the cyclical nature of the natural world. They are equally concerned with reflecting changes within the body, and so become a record of emotional and physical transformation.

The title ‘The Twelve Keys’ is an alchemical reference relating to the 12 stages by which a base material could metamorphose into a higher or purer quality of metal.

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essay ‘The Twelve Keys’ Robert Clark
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