A Fragile Armour

In A Fragile Armour, an iridescent sculpted mother-shell is poised midair, slowly revolving. It alludes to a life’s work/worth, of time built up slowly in calcified strata. Redolent of shelter and protection, it has been (perhaps temporarily) abandoned for reasons unclear – suggesting time has been stilled and stretched into a single interminable moment. Beneath it lies a midden of shells, discarded as if rubbish. The once valuable husks are all that is left of the memories and experiences that have contributed over time to shape the mother-shell. Prints attempt to capture the essence of the shell, to take a more scientific approach but they still cannot capture everything. When the mother-shell finally departs all that will be left will be her midden, which may lie dormant waiting to be rediscovered, excavated and reinterpreted. 

I am interested in how significance and the balance of value shifts depending on the moment in time and how interpretation is always evolving. I consider the value of the throwaway: what will be considered rubbish and what will be treasured. 

The Trash Heap has Spoken by Neva Elliot



Definition of midden


2a: a refuse heap : KITCHEN MIDDEN, Shell Midden (archaeological)

2b: a small pile (as of seeds, bones, or leaves) gathered by a rodent (such as a pack rat)

Middens are indicative of accumulation, consumption and disposal. They grow unnoticed and slowly become part of the landscape, piling and collapsing, altering and camouflaging until they are no longer discernible unless excavated. Although considered by their makers as piles of rubbish, so much non-documentary information can be extracted from these middens, but equally much is also open to interpretation and misinterpretation, constantly shifting between meaning and suggestion. 

MIDDEN collective are Sarah Edmondson, Mary Martin and Niamh McGuinne. Collaborations so far have focussed on the interpretation of evidence; of decidedly unscientific work made in response to lunar and lunisolar calendars; a critique of geo/human-centric time, measurements, and purported experiences;  a pseudoscientific exploration into humans’ interactions with the moon and an appraisal of lunar myths and missions, combining fact with fiction to create new narratives.

And we don’t have to look too far…everywhere around us are potential-middens, middens-in-disguise, partial-middens, middens-in-hiding, proto-middens, middens-in-waiting, pseudo-middens, pop-up-middens, and we along with the pack rats are the authors of their creation.