Holly Knox Yeoman, who studied on the Art, Philosophy and Contemporary Practices programme at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, has worked as a Support Worker in both Scotland and in the US.
Her Degree Show installation, entitled Motions of Care, uses everyday objects found in clerical and domestic settings to examine the bureaucracy of institutions. Holly’s critique extends to scrutinising current social structures in the West and notions of care and responsibility.
Her exhibit is also peppered with carefully chosen popular culture references, music and moving image to question our current status in the era of media saturation, and consider whether we are over-looking personal responsibilities of care in our own communities as well as nationally, internationally and globally.
Holly (22), originally from Edinburgh, explained that her ideas were greatly shaped by what she saw and did when volunteering as an arts and crafts leader with Camp America in upstate New York in 2009. As well as gaining an understanding of the challenges faced by mentally and physically challenged people and their families, Holly says one day in particular impacted upon her.
‘The world knows June 25th 2009 as the day when Michael Jackson died, but it was also the day my granddad passed away,’ she said. ‘I was working with Down Syndrome kids and they were literally rolling around on the floor crying when they heard the news. I saw this contrast between people grieving for someone they had never met, just because he was a celebrity, and this personal loss to a family.
‘Pop culture frames our lives and plays a big part in forming our memories, which is why it features so prominently in my work. I hear people say ‘oh, this reminds me of this’ when a song comes on and it comes to define something very personal to them, but it can also distort personal memories, experiences and identity.
‘The way things are reported in media changes our relationship with them. For example, I didn’t listen much to Michael Jackson before, but now am a fan of his music because there was so much coverage of his death that it led me to explore his work. At the same time, there was a lot of airbrushing of the more questionable aspects of his life in this coverage.
‘My work is about valuing memories and identity. The objects that feature are central to our ideas about ourselves and the people around us. However, the digital age also means we are so bombarded with images and information that we confuse and forget what our real relationships and responsibilities are and have our identity defined by events and people with nothing to do with us.’
The items that form part of Holly’s exhibit are also intended to represent how identity is formed externally, through objects in this case. Holly’s exhibit includes a bike wheel, a back scratcher, a door handle, a bit of carpet and a mould of teeth.
Many of these items were found in the surrounding area of the group home where she works as a Support Worker in Edinburgh, or in the homes of family and friends. She was struck by the fact that, while these objects may appear to be little more than mundane brick-a-brac, the fact that someone chose to keep them proved they meant something to that person.
Furthermore, this tells us something about the person and their life, a fact made more pertinent by the tendency of society to de-personalise, particularly when dealing with handicapped people who are often viewed without not as individuals but in terms of their disability.
‘The objects relate to experiences specific to each individual,’ explained Holly. ‘I’m interested in how our memories are translated and preserved by objects. A lot of the items were given to me by people after I asked about why they might have kept them, whilst others are either replicas of things I saw in people’s homes or items that have particular resonance for me.
‘I see these things and wonder why it is that the owner chose to keep it and what it says about them. You can look at an item in terms of its functional use and also what it means for someone else. Why and how they came to acquire it and how it adds to the character of a person and their house.’
More information about Holly’s work can be found at www.hollyknoxyeoman.blogspot.com.
Almost 300 students from 11 disciplines are exhibiting at this year’s Dundee Degree Show.
Notes to editors:
Dundee Degree Show
21st – 29th May 2011 (Preview May 20th)
Saturday, May 21st (10am-4pm)
Sunday, May 22nd (10am-4pm)
Monday, May 23rd (10am-8pm)
Tuesday, May 24th (10am-8pm)
Wednesday, May 25th (10am-8pm)
Thursday, May 26th (10am-8pm)
Friday, May 27th (10am-8pm)
Saturday, May 28th (10am-4pm)
Sunday, May 29th (10am-4pm)
Graduate work on display:
Art, Philosophy, Contemporary Practices
Digital Interaction Design
Interior Environmental Design
Jewellery & Metal Design
Time Based Art & Digital Film
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