BYO @ Norwich Castle – thinking about purpose and play

BYO residency at Norwich Castle yesterday! This was a big success and we both met some amazing visitors who were very keen to try our work out:

[All photographs used with permission from participants]

Alongside the sound pieces, we also displayed three of my Macramé records, alongside a recent hand-embroidery of mine replicating the screen of my smashed-up phone (no phone is safe with me). Unexpectedly, the embroidered piece – as yet untitled – proved a quite a talking point with some of the visitors, and in particular I spoke with one visitor for some time regarding the concept of play and exploration, which has really got me thinking. My comment was that this piece was ‘pointless’ – whilst creating it I had no purpose or outcome in my head and was creating ‘for the hell of it’, just to see what would happen if I did randomly decide to spent twenty hours (NO KIDDING) creating an embroidery from the tiny cracks in my phone screen.


This then got us both talking about purpose vs. play vs. age– at what age do we decide that everything we do must have a set, defined purpose? And why? When do we decide that ‘play’ is foolish? As young children we scribble and draw and run and build dens and climb trees and make up stories simply for the hell of it. This is all part of the exploration of growing – of our young brains trying to figure out ‘what would happen if I did this?’ for the sheer joy and experience of finding out the answer. Because it feels good.

And this is what this piece was about – what would happen if I did this? What if I took these randomly-occurring cracks – which will never happen at the same time on the same screen in the same pattern again – and transformed them into something defined and entirely non-random, just for the sheer hell of it?

So really it isn’t pointless at all – the point of it is play. To preserve a tiny inconspicuous moment of exploration without purpose – without point.

And can I just say, this particular visitor was amazing, and it was so wonderful talking to her. She and her husband were so enthusiastic and excited by our pieces, and shortly after telling me that they were both retired, she then proclaimed defiantly – “but we are never growing up!”. What a dude.

More on the BYO exhibition: My webpageR&S WebpageR&S BlogNorwich Museums Website.

Awesome one