The exhibition presents a material portrait of a disillusioned woman, whose character is communicated through a series of hand-made objects and adapted found items. Her private world is further documented in an accompanying book, which includes short texts and images.
Laura Potter explains: This work is by two people. One of them is me, and the other is slightly different. At the time of writing, I am a woman in my early forties. I am a practising artist or craftsperson and the anxiety I experience on a daily basis – the angst and frustration that proceeds from everyday urban life – finds an acceptable outlet through my creative practice. Calling yourself an artist legitimises material output that would otherwise be considered abnormal: evidence of emotional or mental instability. Consciously showing this material output to people further increases the potential for acceptance. If you make things and show them openly to other people in an exhibition you are an artist of some kind, and the things you make are some kind of art. If you make things and hide them in cupboards or boxes, you are something altogether different.
The German psychoanalyst Alfred Adler advanced the notion that the ideal self we strive towards is not, in fact, an adult creation. According to Adler the mental model of a successful, happy life, which governs and guides our desires and aspirations, is based on an image we constructed when we were very young: an image that is formed by the time we are six. The kind of grown-up we think we should be, the idea of adulthood we strive towards both consciously and subconsciously, was established by our six year-old self as a model of perfection and success. This model is fixed, and consequently we are always struggling towards a future self that is unrealistic and unattainable because it was generated by a child.
These objects were made by a woman who is dissatisfied with contemporary expectations around her role and responsibilities. These expectations are genuinely held external assumptions as to what she should be or do, and are revealed through her material relationships with others and in parallel with her internalised self-image. The dissatisfaction manifests as a series of materially obsessive rituals, designed to subvert the domestic norms by which she feels bound. She attempts to remake her environment as a reflection of how she really feels, rather than simply following the patterns or instructions handed to her.
This work is by two people. One of them is me, and the other is a person that does not call herself an artist of some kind. She and I grew up together until the age of six. She makes things and hides them in cupboards and boxes. She makes things for herself – to express and to understand her own private logic – and not for an audience or public. She is not concerned with the discourse of contemporary craft and has no desire to find out about it.
Text by Tessa Peters
Laura Potter studied at UCE Birmingham (1990-1993) and at the Royal College of Art (1995-1997). Her work is rooted in a set of specialist skills and interests, which are driven by her training as a jeweller and craftsperson, but her practice is defined by neither of these terms. Her work has been exhibited in the UK, Europe and the Middle East, and most recently a collection of artefacts, Goldweights of the 19th Century Colonists, has toured across Australia. This recent work explores notions of cultural identity and misconception, through the production of faked, semi-believable objects. Potter has also been involved in collaborative projects aimed at widening public perceptions of, and engagement with, contemporary craft. As a founding member of experimental design syndicate DWFE, she has developed proposals that look at how artefacts, systems and material culture can offer some degree of relief from the emptiness of contemporary living. Since 1998 she has lectured at Goldsmiths (London), and joined the RCA in 2005 as a tutor in Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork and Jewellery.