Oliver Sewell is a recent Fine Art graduate from Leeds College of Art, and whose practice centres on everyday objects and exploring them as vessels for functionality and memory.
Oliver often chooses the chair as a subject. An object that almost everybody interacts with regularly on a daily basis.
“All of the chairs have been interrupted in some way, whether that is the state that they have been found or how they have been re-constructed or manipulated.
Everybody has an interaction with the everyday and the objects situated in it whether they realise it or not. Heidegger’s Ready to hand theory suggests that people’s recognition of the everyday comes through a lack of its purpose – we only recognise an object for what it is when our expectations are interrupted. Heidegger states that in everyday life these objects become transparent and do not pass through our consciousness (Dreyfus on Heidegger, 2008). Once the preconscious memories are triggered they are drawn into the conscious allowing us to envisage ourselves and the memories we have into the reality before us.
Everybody has had experiences with chairs whether they be personal or not, so when encountering the chairs in my work the audience has the potential to relate the chairs before them to the ones they know so well, allowing the possibility for a personal connection to the work.”
Oliver explores these ideas by using the chair to represent both functionality and the quotidian.
“We completely take the object for granted each time it is subconsciously interacted with. The chair needs human interaction for its functional purpose to be fulfilled, yet in my work I present the chairs as broken objects and highlight the interruption of what we would normally expect of them, therefore reinventing our view of the chairs, challenging our memory of the role they play in our everyday lives.
The objects I use are found. This takes the element of choice out of question, giving the aesthetics of the objects the component of chance and unknowing. This also applies to the state of the objects as well as many of these have been thrown away giving them a persona of absence from the first time I encounter them.
The Freudian theory, The Uncanny uses the notion of both familiarity and threat, The Uncanny is nothing new, it’s something we recognise but something is interrupted and is a threat to what we know. The Chairs I use are familiar but by representing them in this unfamiliar way the audience is almost alienated from what they know the chair to be, allowing this new representation to take place and be recognised as something other than what is generally expected from a chair.
We generally take chairs for granted and as throwaway objects but by having them displayed in this new way I am highlighting the importance of the objects by presenting them with an interruption.
The absence of the human in my work suggests loss and that after death these inanimate everyday objects are left behind. These objects, which we all come to love and cherish in our lives, become vessels for other people to remember the deceased. This absence forces the viewer to engage with the object in an unfamiliar way, allowing us to explore our relationship with the everyday once its habitual use has been challenged.”
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Images ©Oliver Sewell 2015