A Brief Compendium of Named and Unnamed Objects (2017-18)
Hand made book (c-type photographic prints, paper, card, cloth, 176 hours.)
This work is the result of a Leverhulme artist’s residency hosted by the University of Northumbria. Over the past year I have been working in collaboration with social scientist Dr Siobhan Daly looking at the places and ideas which have defined philanthropic activity in the North East.
The project led to the creation of a handmade book "A Brief Compendium of Named and Unnamed Objects' and a short film 'From Kindness' which was screened at the Lit and Phil ( Newcastle) and in the committee room of the Natural History Society of Northumbria ( Great North Museum Hancock). Everything in the book relates to a donation ranging from small objects, to landscapes, buildings or people's time and all of the text is drawn from archival sources. Two books were donated to the libraries of the Lit and Phil and Natural history society and the work sets out to operate as both an aesthetic object and a factual document. The book was also exhibited alongside a collection of archival objects and photographs in the library of the Natural History Society of Northumbria, images are included here. The text below was written as an introduction to the book.
"The project set out to explore the legacy of philanthropy in North East England, thinking in particular about different definitions of philanthropy and some of the tensions those definitions reveal. Is philanthropic work solely defined by wealthy donors? Is it simply about the donation of money or should we consider philanthropy in the full spirit of voluntary action? How can we reveal the full spectrum of philanthropic work which is often invisible? What does the history of philanthropy illuminate about the present situation in public life when we are seeing unprecedented cuts to public funding and calls for the private sector and members of the community to step in?
The work produced is a meditation on these questions. It is a document of the sites, archives, donations and voluntary work we have encountered in trying to explore these ideas. It reveals the diversity of the activity we have found; though it must be stressed what is contained here is only a fraction of what could have been included."
I would particularly like to thank the volunteer book repair group based at the Literary and Philosophical Society Newcastle, whose work features in the film and who taught me to make books for the project and also June Holmes archivist at the natural history society for sharing her extensive knowledge of the society's archives and collections.
Please follow this link to watch a short clip of the film on vimeo.
This project has been supported by the Leverhulme Trust