Private House Bangles

 

This project began as a revision to research which centred around the book ‘Private House Electric Lighting’ (by F H Taylor, Percival Marshall & Co., 1904). I was particularly interested in the methods for splicing (connecting and joining) wires which were described in the book because they differ so greatly from the methods we have today for transferring electricity.  I am fascinated by the visual language of function and whilst the aesthetics of cogs, gears and wheels used in mechanical devices are ubiquitous, well understood and describe their consequential actions, the functional aspects of moving electricity around are far less obvious. The methods and materials described in this book have many interesting overlaps with jewellery making and I wanted to make another attempt at interpreting these inspirational and forgotten processes in my work. Using the book in this way gave me a certain freedom to make design and materials decisions which are outside of my usual visual vocabulary. 

 

I have been living in an old house (I think it was built around 1890) for a long time, and although I have been curious about when it acquired electricity, I became more interested in the ways in which the house shows (and hides) aspects of its history. The most useful source of raw material that I found to work with was different layers of wallpaper which were still present behind some of the radiators. These dated from throughout the twentieth century and are glorious pieces of historical design. They speak of changes over time, taste (both personal and societal) and also give information about who was living in each room; a particular favourite is the brightly coloured modernist vehicles design from an upstairs bedroom.

The series of bangles that were produced through the amalgamation of wire-work and layers of mixed materials create a homage to the house and its unique history. There is a tangible sense that even though I have lived in this house for almost fifteen years, I am just a very temporary fixture (especially as I may have to leave soon) and the traces which my time here will leave are (paradoxically) both ephemeral and lingering. The bangles are therefore a kind of portable reliquary, a gracious acknowledgement of my time here - their layers of materials may erode through use, but the core structure will remain and could be redecorated with a fresh layer of wallpaper or coat of paint.
 

The wire-work is functional for the structure of the pieces, but in the case of Private House Bangle One, also graphically descriptive and suggestively diagrammatical. Bangle One is almost representative of an electrical circuit, and becomes a signifier for the greater whole—one small part of a circulatory system of electricity representing an infinitely complex structure. The exposed metal structures of Bangles Three and Five create a tension which hints at the vulnerability of the house, as well as its strength as a ‘home’. The layers of insulation provide protection from outside dangers, but also creates a barrier between us and the internal functional structure of the house; the London Assay Office hallmark on Bangle Three is concealed beneath the layers of plaster, textile and wallpaper, perhaps until some future renovation takes place.

 

 

©Anastasia Young 2019

‘Private House Electric Lighting’ by F H Taylor, Percival Marshall & Co., 1904.

Private House Bangle 4, 2012.

Copper, silver solder, antique textiles.

 

Private House Bangle 1, 2012.

Sterling silver, wallpaper, varnish.

 

‘Private House Electric Lighting’ by F H Taylor, Percival Marshall & Co., 1904.

Private House Bangle 3, 2012.

Sterling silver, plaster, textile, wallpaper, varnish.

 

Private House Bangles 1, 3 & 4, 2012.

Mixed media.

 

Private House Bangles 1 & 5, in situ. 2012.

Private House Bangles 4 & 2, 2012. 

Mixed media.