In October this year, I completed my first solo art commission, 108 Steps. The name is taken from the site and inspiration for the piece – Macclesfield’s 108 Steps, a historic set of steps in the town, of which there are 108 (supposedly). I captured a ‘week in the life’ of the steps on film, composed this into a one hour loop of activity, and then projected it back onto the steps for the public to experience.
While the artwork is firmly rooted in the stone and people of Macclesfield, it began somewhere else entirely: Venice. A little over a year ago, I visited an exhibition at the Palazzo Fortuny called ‘Intuition’. The exhibition explored ‘how intuition has, in some form, shaped art across geographies, cultures and generations’, describing intuition as the ‘ability to acquire knowledge without proof, evidence, or conscious reasoning: a feeling that guides a person to act in a certain way without fully understanding why.’
What the exhibition’s curators, Axel Vervoordt and Daniela Ferretti, had done was assemble a vast collection of work from across an even vaster period of time, from Neolithic sculpture to ephemeral steam installations. What I experienced there was the antithesis to years of architectural education – to the pontifications of ‘form follows function’ and ‘ornament is crime’. The exhibition instead exposed a fundamental need, across time and culture, for us to communicate the qualities of life and the place we inhabit – through whatever means we deem necessary.