It happens from time to time that the stars come out from behind the clouds and the moonlight casts crepuscular rays between the black silhouetted tree branches that otherwise stand between ourselves and the infinity of space. But whittle things down to a point and if you have a story to tell then you just need a way to say it that isn’t too complicated or too far detached from what people can empathise or sympathise with. That is what would make a good story, not the message necessarily but rather the capacity for it to be understood.
Initially I had considered a completely inappropriate opening paragraph about misguided Prana energies and then I could have gone down the road of onanisms and pearl necklaces and you can empathise with that if you have ever spent a moment as a human being, right… do you get me?
Ceridwen Hazelchild has created these adaptations of children’s role-models but in doing so she hasn’t taken the well trodden route of an artist making a point about manufactured concepts of beauty and perfection. Rather she has taken the tact of relating to her own childhood and the inappropriate nature of mass-produced toys to attempt to represent a very closed and socially correct person. Hazelchild’s Model’s from Childhood (2011) are based upon the image of New Age Travellers (NAT’s) who live life as what might be commonly called a gypsy. NAT children suffer when it comes to having role models, there are none to be found in mainstream media that can represent their lifestyle. As such it is common practice for parents to acquire the usual toys that are distributed and they modify them to better suit the situation. In this simple way the toys can be made to reflect them and their values – something which is otherwise oppressed through exclusion.
The blanket production of all commercial products, and not just the toys, mean that the cultural diversity and the lifestyles of people can be rendered invisible. Hazelchild has created her parodies of NAT’s sensitively following a research project that lead her back to her own roots as a New Age Traveller. After interviewing NAT’s about their own childhood memories she decided to create her own adaptations that would represent a challenge to convention. The dressing of mass-produced models is humourous, even if inadvertantly so, the idea of taking a model representing the “every man” or the “every woman”, as these models do, and then dressing it up in “new” clothes could be as much a fashion statement as this sentence appears to have missed the point. At any rate a critique of the mass-production industry is being made in a very overt and aesthetic way.
In the style of the NAT, the models have their clothes tailor-made, Hazelchild having made them by hand herself. Each character has their signature Big Boots which are significant of the lifestyle of the NAT – having to slip the boots on and off as they go between Caravans. Also the clothes are made in the style of military surplus clothes as is convention.
This show was a part of the Contexture show that took place at the Woodlane campus in the Dartington quarter.