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England Bloody England: From the old world to the new

Trophy Chair Foxes

The Trophy chair is all wrapped in calico and cardboard and tomorrow it will be crated and sent forth across the oceans to its new life beneath the southern stars in Sydney. Strange to see it go. It feels a bit like I have sold a favourite child. A golden child who began my obsession with chairs and reminded me how to run with my own instincts.
It was the first chair I made for the England Bloody England show in 2008. I had returned from living in New Zealand and was feeling displaced back in London so I started writing …weaving scraps of tales of ancestors together trying to understand what made my riff raff family take endless journeys back and forth between the new world and the old. A deep seated pathological need to find  god or just a innate restlessness and a desire to escape the restrictive class system of England. I needed to reconcile myself as a bastard daughter of the British Empire before I could find my place here again.
Thats how the fox chair came into being. I made it at college up at Whitechapel and it took months of painstaking work. The foxes were roadkill and I had them taxidermed and positioned so they looked like they were waking from a long sleep in the back of the chair. Beautiful and rare in an urban setting but also an uncomfortable reminder of mortality in the way of memento mori. Also to me very very English.
I used to get so frustrated with the exactness of building that chair that in my worse moments I would imagine hurling it like superwoman from the roof of the college and watching it smash into a million pieces on the road below. I can’t tell you what joy I felt at imagining that. When eventually I did get to throw the chair off the cliff in the first Armchair Destructivist action it was more thrilling than playing Madison Square Gardens. The hills were alive with the sound of splintering wood! I discovered that destruction of domestic objects does for a moment counter all the smug complacency and comfort of the well mannered middle classes.
In the same way that Fuck the Fucking Fuckers counters the insidious Keep Calm and Carry On phrase so beloved of cupcake shops in this age of deeply unimaginative self serving politicians like Cameron. Its a rallying cry that cuts through the bullshit of semantics. It gloriously demolishes all those words like reasonable and nice and proper that are used to socially and politically manipulate us Fuck the fucking fuckers screams a delightful and uncomfortable truth like the best of bad children at a well mannered tea party. Tradition and old world order are suddenly challenged and in that brief moment there is the possibility that a new truth will emerge and new ways of operating that is more just and fair and inclusive for everyone.
So despite being sad to see it go I think it is ‘right and proper’  that the foxes traverse the oceans and the narrative continues between the old and the new worlds and the true nature and cost of comfort is constantly challenged. And anyway in the words of Gertrude Stein: a chair is a chair is a chair.

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