18/01/2023 - 19/02/2023
Contemporary - Mixed Medium
Martin Baugh, David Burrows & Lesley Guy - All I can see is Trees
“Okay, so this is a recording about the idea, the current idea for the exhibition in January that's going to take place at IMT Gallery in London. It’s about feet; about bodies and metal. I’m going to ask David Burrows, Lesley Guy and Jack Killick about it.
“I've been thinking about work of course. Responsibility, duty, compensation, and where our bodies fit into that. Work-related stress. I'm walking whilst recording this on my phone here... it's Friday, the 24 November. I'm walking into Newcastle to join the picket line outside Northumbria University before going on to the Civic Centre. Thinking about how the Steelers were named after the steel industry, that was later decimated in the 1980s, making thousands of people unemployed. And you have Iron Mike Webster, who played for the Steelers from the ‘70s all through this to 1990. He was a key case study in the NFL concussion scandal, because of the degeneration of his body and mind caused by successive concussions. He would sniff ammonia to stay awake, fearing he wouldn’t wake up, or use a Taser gun to sleep. And Mike’s feet. The cracking of his feet, super-gluing and duct-taping the skin back together. Sacrifices in the world of work. I contacted Lesley Guy, the artist Lesley Guy from the collective TOTALLER, who is very skilled at making objects that vibrate with their histories and contexts and meanings. And we’re going to talk later about Mike Webster’s feet.
“And then, the artist Jack Killick has come into possession of the foot of a Yeti. I'm going to call Jack. The Yeti is by Martin Baugh from a 1960s episode of Doctor Who. A monster out of place, running through the London Underground, something weird in the commute. Also, the Yeti in Doctor Who is assumed to be an organic cryptid, roaming the mountains of Tibet and hunted by this anthropology professor. But it turns out the Yeti is a metal robot controlled by a mind trying to build a body for itself. It seems like a good time to think about these things. Like most TV monsters, the Yeti is invented by television to be defeated, created to be destroyed.
“But ultimately the idea for this first came from talking to David Burrows back in 2013. David was talking about his thoughts about the IRA Bomb in Victoria Station in the early ‘90s, which caused... which created the image of a severed foot... and he had found himself fixated by that image. What it signifies. The horror and ordinariness of it.
“So, these three feet: the Victoria Station foot, the robot Yeti foot, Iron Mike’s cracked feet. I will get all the pieces together. I will pitch it to Lindsay, the director of IMT, see if she's into it. I've got a couple of titles. One of them is very bleak. I imagine I won't use that, but I'll see what she thinks, talk her through the ideas. The other title is ‘All I can see is Trees’, so I’ll probably use that instead. It’s my misremembering ‘I see a lot of trees’ which is something Mike Webster is reported to have said when he found himself lost and out of gas in the middle of the night, his body falling apart, his brain turned to soup.
“There are myths and metaphors here, I am on my way to join the picket line. I've got my coffee and wrapped up warm. I'm looking forward to it.”
Thanks to David Burrows, Lesley Guy and Jack Killick for their contributions. Also, thanks to Alexandra Looseley-Saul from the Who Shop, and her help with Jack’s foot.
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