memory palace | artist statement

Memory Palace


During my two previous Liverpool Art Biennial solo exhibitions in the Bluecoat, I was struck by how intimate, yet transient, my relationship with the participators and visitors to my exhibitions were.

These exhibitions, 'Autobiographobia' 2004 - chosen as a 'Biennial Independents' highlight - and, 'Images from the Complete History of Sexual Jealousy' 2002, involved people revealing, and my then concealing within the paintings, aspects of their lives caught on camera, which were then painted by me.

Although some people chose to send their photo/image contributions anonymously by (e)mail, I realised I was still slowly making connections with people around the UK and other parts of the world. This lead to the idea of exploring where visitors to Liverpool had come from, and what memories and impressions they were taking away from the city.

Although some people chose to send their photo/image contributions anonymously by (e)mail, I realised I was still slowly making connections with people around the UK and other parts of the world. This led to the idea of exploring where visitors to Liverpool had come from, and what memories and impressions they were taking away from the city.

Moving in both routine and irregular journeys, in our hometowns and globally, we can often indulge in small talk with our neighbours while revealing intimate thoughts to strangers on trains, or, perhaps even in hotels. I decided to try and capture such home and away snapshots, pinning them down visually, in paintings. And I quickly realised the obvious place to focus my attention was a hotel.

Once I had the idea of using a hotel as the arena for making connections for this visual arts project, I knew it had to be the famous Adelphi (originally built as a 'palace' to house the Titanic's trans-Atlantic passengers). It was impossible, then, not to make the hotel itself part of the whole project, as it holds a unique place in the life of the city.

With its impressive Art Deco design, this beautiful building has an evocative atmosphere, slightly tinged with melancholy. I am aware this may simply be me projecting on to the building my own idiosyncratic view to satisfy an artistic need.

However, what is certainly true is that my early exploration of the life of the hotel was interrupted and delayed by several unforeseen personal events. These have since become inextricably linked with my Adelphi Project, so I find this building doubly stimulating and personal.

The initial work for this project has already initiated a dramatic change in my work practise, and I am excited by the artistic possibilities which have been revealed.

The 'Memory Palace' is, for me, both the hotel itself and ones own head, filled with memories and images of every description. I have complex and ambiguous feelings about memory (especially as it has recently become so ubiquitous as an 'art' subject); I have a multitude of personal cherished memories, but often I feel oppressed by the gloopy mass of images in my head, especially the sensory overload and avalanche of nostalgia imposed by contemporary media- I long to have them extracted somehow.

The only thing I can do is to let this 'IMAGEvirus' © break out and escape the painted canvas, seeping and spreading across the walls; I always wanted to create paintings with such a pulse.

And for me, hotels are living organisms too, a place where people often have heightened emotional experiences, from pleasure - usually as a couple or in groups - to a sense of aloneness and, perhaps, even loneliness.

Whether it involves the anxiety/boredom of a business trip, a holiday or some kind of celebration, hotels can focus our emotions and induce feelings that evoke strong memories, even if they are simply those of an excellent lunch.


Laird Galbraith 2008

memory palace
project
artist statement
gallery

home

contact