These works consist of found postcards of lighthouses that have been modified with electronic circuitry and LEDs so that they function similarly to the lighthouses they depict. Postcards are a method of making contact that tries to bring people closer and to indicate that the receiver is in the thoughts of the sender: ‘wish you were here’. The lighthouse, conversely, is a method of communicating across distance that is designed to maintain that distance, warning that approach might risk a shipwreck. This tension between drawing nearer and keeping at bay is at the centre of these works, bound up in the sentimentality that the vintage quality of the postcards brings to the work.
The first set of cards were selected from the artist’s own small collection of vintage postcards, which were in turn gathered over a long period of time from stalls in Sheffield’s Antiques Quarter. More recently, cards have been ordered from vendors on the internet, particularly if the Relay in question is being produced as a commission. The initial intention was to produce a Relay for every lighthouse on the UK mainland’s coastline, but this is an ambition that is unlikely to be realised. The series will likely remain incomplete, remotely signalling from their internationally dispersed locations.
Many of the Relays made to date are now in private collections, in locations as distant as San Diego and Coventry. They have been exhibited singly and in groups, at Leeds Art Gallery as part of Underworlds & Overworlds, at the Manchester Contemporary art fair, and at Bloc Projects as part of their Idea of North assembly event. The artist considers them to function best as domestic ornaments, providing both a focal point and a distracting presence on the mantelpiece of the collector.
If you would like to commission or purchase a Relay, please contact the artist for pricing and availability details.
Year of production: 2011-2015
Media: found postcards, cardboard, glue, custom electronics.
An unlimited series of unique objects.