Katrina Palmer : Hello / Retreat - Review and discussion of the piece - developmental work Semester 1
Yesterday I visited hello/ retreat by Katrina Palmer which is installed on East Beach in Shoeburyness.
The site has an intersting history, as with most of the far reaches of the South Essex Coastline, the miltary has always been present in Shoebury Garrison - now a housing estate. It sits to the right and looks toward the sea, with a new country park on the tip of the Shoebury Common beach - repurposed when the Garrison was finally sold off. This area of coast line is where the North Sea and the Estuary meet.
Towards the north, the traveller would find that they can only go so far before the cameras and barbed wire fences start to appear, especially as they near the one and only access to Foulness Island, as it is still active MOD land. In itself a mysterious Island, with its mysterious land, and its even more treacherous off shore footpath ( once the only entry point). I have been lucky, I have walked the Broomway, but that for another "post". Needless to say, Foulness and DERA at Shoeburyness plus the garrison have their place in history for the firing of bomb and missiles and sadly the development of the nuclear bomb.
Palmer acknowledges this through the creation of Hello - the 1/2 parts of this artwork. Using inspiration by mimicking the design of acoustic mirrors from the 1920-1940s, These were initially used to receive sound, using the parabolic nature of the dish, they could hear distant sounds of enemy aircrafts. This design I believe is based on a loose design of the Abbots Cliff Sound Mirror near Folkestone in Kent, this is not verified.
In Hello - Palmer has "Stencilled" the word HELLO on to the parabolic dish as a means of communicating it out to the unknown sea.
Retreat is accessed via a QR code that links the viewer to a set of works that have been created in association with hello.
The retreat pieces offer a slight insight into the artists state of mind while in a residency as part of the Estuary festival of 2021. The short story is a refection of the artist state of mind at the time of creation, a deep dive into the process of movement, of identity of feeling "othered". Hello - in process shows the installation process and interactions with unknowns in regards. The waves sound piece captures the walking across the seafront and the differences in the ambient noises that are encountered on the walk. The short film presents people walking up the pier. It is a short piece.
On the surface Hello makes a statement, linking past military activities and a shout outwards to the sea, and land beyond the piece channels the idea of radar dishes but it feels somewhat devoid of meaning when it is explored more deeply. it feels like it gives a tip of the hat to that military past - even though there is no actual history of sound mirrors in this area.
it feels like the piece is confused and the rest of the piece is ill progressed and feels unfinished. I am not sure if this is what the artist intended, as a local, one who has walked the same paths as the artist, it is clear that her information has been gleaned directly from from the internet, and I feel this lessens the impact of the piece.
In terms of identity, it doesn't feel like it touches on the significance aside from a short paragraph in the which the artist decides to carry a pocket swiss army knife., and the self isolation that took place during her residency.
I take on board the short story with changing names but to a Southender it seems like mistakes in names in places, like care wasn't taken to investigate the space and the location as fully as one could. In discussion with my creative partner and husband, we both felt differing opinions, He more strongly than I that it didn't have depth that would have been created if wider research had been undertaken, it felt that the pieces didn't have a solid grounding.
The question then posed is;
Should Art have to have depth?......
In this example it feel like the artist touches on depth but does not engage with it, and the Hello piece presented because of its relevance, almost feels like an afterthought as something that had to be produced and as a stand alone piece it is in a sense a folly.
I argued with myself - and decided to explore further:
Katrina acknowledges ad single object as sign - language based object ( Hello )
retreat : Linked to the Gun Powder Magazine :
KP: The single piece : operates on several levels - two distinct elements to it:
KP describes the work deliberate in not describing the work - works between a determined sculptural form and how you describe things, and part of what it does in describing a particular action - and the flow of language that gets in the way of acts.
TD: A story that unfolds with various elements - some are physical some are in virtual world, but all about experience of a particular person and a new landscape.
Artist based it on own experience.
Public space seen through subjective view point, looking at the experience of place through Artist eye.
The work describes the experience and what as a visitor what you did encounter, and the conflicted sense of that that feels like.
KP coastline ever changing , looking away and looking back - the absurdity of that.
The structures are conflicting, the way Southend has a fairground, a beach and a holiday resort and Shoeburyness, the nature reserve and playground, then butts up to the military testing site and old garrison. A
Retreat, short story, summarises over a number of days and the people the artist encounters.
Conflicting brings anxiety to the artist?
Letting go and being defensive at the same time.
Q: Materality and physicality, was relevant at the moment, as a place where Artist was bought to thinking about physicality, and physical presence, made work that the artist, works out who is in the loop and who isn't.
:What are the borders, where the lines are drawn adducing that experience can end up producing its own material as its fed through the process of writing in being less settled and more open.
Q:_ As a Multi-form artist, the primary source material is it writing?
A: Yes , KP makes a lot of notes as a starting point, but also imagined - other pierces are part of the experience to demonstrate the experience at the residency.
No preference to the way the work is seen.
Artist hopes that they are stand alone.
Q:TD The sculpture itself and the way that people can enter the virtual part of the work on the powder magazine - looking through the online magazine and generates a range of imagery in the mind, is interesting.
both pieces bring the public both digital and virtual with accessibility.
A: KP works : End matter / Coffin Jump also in the public realm, the need to negotiate something going on that sometimes is lost in the everyday.
Monuments have become less invisible.
Acoustic Mirrors - a monument to bygone past. Not a monument to a person but a thought provoking installation. The site looking out at a border point, the structure that it mimics is a defence one.
KP:- Commented that constantly contentious with the military sites on both sides - borders of the country, fishing rights etc.
So will be in conflict.
Am I missing the point !!