Alex Flett; from the edge to the centre.
In 2002 “From the edge to the centre” was the last show I held in the European Parliament in Brussels. Unlike the last two shows in Brussels and Strasbourg, it contained far more sculpture work, including “Lessons from a mertzbau.”
Below: Lessons from a merzbau. Left: In the garden at Lochfergus. Centre: In position in the European Parliament. Right: Detail
The work was a reflection on the foot and mouth outbreak in Dumfries and Galloway. As Lochfergus House sits beside a farm and the entrance is via a farm track, we had, every time we exited or entered, to go through a chemical foot bath to help keep the disease from spreading. No cows at Lochfergus suffered thankfully, but it meant that this “ritual” of washing had to be undertaken every time we went through a gate. I had also been on a visit to Norway where I saw the door of the Schwitters Hut on Heart Island in Molde Fjord. The door was the only thing left of the merztbau which he had installed in the hut. It was a combination of these two things which led to the construction of the work.
A further work which first saw public scrutiny in Brussels was “Monument to Dolly” This work was one which developed the concept of the cloned Dolly the sheep as a totem.
Above left: Dolly the sheep in Brussels. Above right: the artist working on Dolly in the Lochfergus studio.
A further work which saw public scrutiny in this Brussels show (also in the Amnesty International 40th birthday show at Glasgow Muesum of Modern Art) was “With these words.” The work was one of the first i created when I returned from working on the VIII International AIDS Conference in Durban in 2000, and is a homage to Nkosi Johnston.
Above left: With these words in Brussels. Above right: With these words detail.
Nkosi was a young 12 year old boy at the time and became famous for speaking out about his condition as a positive HIV child. He spoke at the Opening ceremony of the XIII Conference. The central panel is a xerographic copy made with permission from a Reuters news agency photograph. Into this work went many of the things which had affected me from working on the Amasiko cultural programme. Inserted into an objet trouve window, the words inside say in three languages (Zulu, Xhosa and Setswana) “A person is only a person because of other persons” In other words, you are who you are because of others. The frame is painted with the colours of the courtyard of the Bat Centre in Durban within whose Democratic Gallery; the Bodyworks images were exhibited.
Above left: Talking Tree (photo at Lochfergus). Above centre: Wheel Cross (photo in Brussels). Above right: detail of Wheel Cross (photo at Lochfergus).
Left: Monarch of the Glen, the Shapeshifter.
Below: Harpist, photos 1, 2, and 3. Harp, photos 4, 5, and 6.
1 2 3 4 5 6
The 2002 Brussels show also contained all the flag drawings created in 1999 in the MacLaurin Gallery in Ayr, plus drawings for future concepts.
Far left: Drawing for Rapunzel. Near left: Riccio.
In 1999, when these drawing were made, I tried to get Dean Castle in Ayrshire to let me construct Rapunzel using hemp rope hanging from the castle battlements. All was going forward when the county architects stepped in and reused to have the piece installed. The work Riccio, recalls Mary Queen of Scots’ minstrel musician who was murdered by her husband Darnley. This may yet be built, and I still have hope that Rapunzel may find a suitable building.