Nancy Dewhurst

Website: http://www.nancydewhurst.com

Email: nancydewhurst@hotmail.co.uk

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Statement

system /ˈsɪstəm/

1. a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; a complex whole.
2. a set of principles or procedures according to which something is done; an organised scheme or method.

A ‘system’ could be a plant, an ecosystem, a community, a machine, or a government. The system relies totally on the cooperation of the smaller consecutive parts which make it and yet, at the same time, it is a means of control over these small parts. I find contradictions such as this intriguing, and they frequently inform my work.

work versus play
nature versus culture
freedom versus constraint
individual versus communal

I create participatory systems (installations) which necessitate the activation of the viewer for their completion. By taking part and completing the system participants are subscribing to a means of control and yet, conversely, they are freed from ingrained institutional rules regarding interacting with art objects. In turn, I aim to de-mystify and democratise the art-making process.

Most recently, my artistic practice has been focussed towards systems of ‘time’ and different notions of it – geological time, ancient time, time dictated by labour, and time punctuated by play. I aim to create meditative pieces that encourage contemplation, and reclamation of, time.

I believe in play as an incubator for serious thought. This philosophy is reflected in both my working processes and my finished art works. My work is process based and accumulative, often beginning as small seeds of ideas which I happen upon through chance. Through play, these morph and evolve, often becoming unrecognisable from their source. I go through a process of complicating the work, collecting and collaging in disparate and often contradictory thoughts and forms. I then try to bring the work to its simplest form, but with the new ‘collaged’ parts ingrained. In this way, my work is never about just one thing, but is a distillation of different ideas which bounce off one another.

I consider my practice to be largely site-specific. However, I use ‘site-specific’ as a malleable and ever-changing term, encompassing not only a place, but also a context, a community or a moment.

Journeying is an integral part of my research. I use film as a way of sketching, often capturing chance encounters when I’m walking. These sketches will become the ‘seeds’ for future works, and elements of them may be used in more ‘finished’ works. I don’t work in one specific medium, but rather, I accumulate skills as and when I need them to create forms that are most appropriate to my evolving thoughts. Most recently, these have been the use of coding and computers to make works responsive to participants, and the use of a wood lathe and clay to create bowls.