Like most projects, this one got left until almost the last minute. The last couple of weeks anyway.
The idea is to collect a touring exhibition of work by past students ofBath Academy of Art (now part of Bath Spa Uni) from the days when it was in deepest leafy Wiltshire and the green arcadia of Corsham Court.
The work can be in any medium but it must be matchbox sized.
Ok I thought. Those big kitchen matchboxes. No problem! Then I realised that 45mm x 35mm x 14mm is actually a smidgeon smaller in length than your regular Ship matchbox! Gasp! What? Considering that my landscapes are usually large this was going to be a challenge.
I resorted to the usual. Filed the whole Matchbox Museum idea carefully away in that shabby bulging mental folder called 'Stuff I Know I've Got to Do And I will Do It I Promise But Not Just Now Because I Can't Get My Head Round It...' That was several months ago. And if it weren't for the posts on the Facebook group by other alumni showing their own beautiful and inventive work, I might still be matchbox-less.
Goaded by other people's art, I started to agonise. What to do? I thought of making a wood engraving but couldn't find an idea that felt right. And anyway I'd have to order a block. And they take me ages.
Returning to the idea of the 'museum' I thought of archaeology - fragments of the past from which we try to build an idea of what it was like. I decided to take images of my paintings and crop them into tiny 'details'. I started to devise possible cheating ways of being able to show more than one 2D work. A strip of paper folded in a concertina was favourite. It would spring out when the box was opened. The problem with that was that it would fall and sag downwards from the box. Also the folds took up precious depth and meant fewer pages than I needed..
At one point (when the printer started to refuse to print the details as a contact sheet) I thought instead of sticking one of my short stories (title - Vanishing Point - and hey it's about an art student!) in small chunks onto the strip but I couldn't quite get it all on- even in size 8 Calibri which was barely readable. I spent ages editing and cutting. (Very good for the story actually so I'm glad I did it!) But still no good for the Matchbox.
Eventually the idea of a tiny book took shape. Having a 'book' would work because literature is my day job sort of. So a book might reflect that.
But this would be a Book of Fragments or Details. The book would be found in a treasure chest or casket. The lid would show a tiny self portrait - reflecting that each one of us is our own unique deep sea treasure chest (it was a box of Ship matches!) with mysterious and depths and riches of imagination and memory.
Meanwhile - apart from all this symbolic and metaphorical twaddle I had a divinely sticky time gluing minute beads onto the 'casket' and flobbing gouts of acrylic metallic paint over it.
I've agonised a bit (only a bit) about the fact that the casket's painted cover and its bead encrustations have enlarged the size by a couple of mils... ...also that the tiny book got a bit too thick when I added a cover of thick cream water colour paper so that now the lid of the casket doesn't close as it did before. But I like the water colour paper - it's reminiscent of old documents - so it's staying.
Thinking about how I made it, there's something nostalgically Blue Peterish about it (using found objects/detritus - plastic from a blister pack - minute beads I've had for years because they'll come in handy one day - some copper acrylic paint - why the hell did I buy that??? - and scraps of ribbon paper and glue) And this somehow suits my generation - the generation of sticky backed plastic, toilet roll tubes, glue and washing up liquid bottles; children of our Make Do and Mend wartime parents.
I don't say it's 'Art'. But it's a Museum piece alright.