Tuesday, 4 October 2011


[Sometimes it is almost impossible to say - or to remember - from where exactly an idea originates. Is it, for example, associated with a dream in the depths of the sub-conscious or closer to the surface of one’s awareness? Whichever, Pete Horobin awoke with the concept of amassing a vast quantity of junk material and inviting a number of artists to work with this pile of waste turning it into art objects over a period of time before returning everything back to source. A cyclical process - a life cycle of sorts - a metaphor for the perpetual never ending continuum of creativity.
Horobin at this time - 1978 - was a member of the Dundee Group (Artists) Ltd based at Forebank Studios - an extant Catholic primary school. The Dundee Group was established in 1975 by a small collective of Duncan of Jordanstone graduates - Bob McGilvray, Jack Morrocco, Barry Mitchell, Peter Gibb and Pete Horobin. The group recruited new members and attracted the financial support of the Scottish Arts Council. By the time Horobin proposed his idea of transforming waste materials the group comprised around 15 members - not all of whom had sympathies with the project’s aspiration. However the project had already been endorsed by Cairn – an artist-run collective in Paris - who were interested in participating in the recycling process and exhibiting the documentation in their gallery. Unlike DGA, Cairn was self-financed and autonomous and comprised creative people from all disciplines, not just the visual arts.
The collected waste materials came from Dundee industries and domestic sources and was deconstructed over a two-week period in April 1979 by those who accepted an invitation to participate - they included Arthur Watson, David Mach, John Macallum, Phil Barker, Andy Stenhouse and Frances Pelly. Dominique Haneuse and Bernard Crespin came over from Paris as guests of Pete Horobin.
The event, unlike other exhibitions at Forebank, was not a commercial venture. No artworks were for sale - instead they were further deconstructed as waste in a radical anti-art statement, which was ground-breaking in Scotland. For the first time the complete creative process - which always includes destruction - was conspicuously demonstrated publicly – not behind the closed doors of the artist’s studio – and spectators were forced to consider the transience of the art object as well as its cultural worth when fabricated from waste materials.
The documentation of the event was later installed in Cairn’s gallery where all the photographs and associated texts were laid on the floor and covered with a layer of clear industrial polythene so that viewers had to walk over the data to examine it in detail. This had the effect of demonstrating the ephemeral nature of waste materials and the non-commercial value of the documentation itself. The documentation had taken on a life and identity of its own quite separate from the event that it recorded and historicised. Now condensed within a small box made from recycled cardboard and relocated at Dundee University Archives it forms an intimate installation that can be explored on a tabletop or exploded to fill a gallery.]
Photos featuring some of the works and artists involved...
1st & 2nd - Installed photographs by Dominique Haneuse.
3rd - Arthur Watson at work.
4th - The Cairn installation.
5th - Phil Barker at work.
6th - The Warrior by Andy Lang.
7th - Welded steel & jute by John McCallum.
8th - Work by David Mach.
Courtesy of The Attic Archive.

1 comment:

  1. Well done again Retro until now I have been clueless about this form of art but I now see it as what it is recycled rubbish