Thingness (2011) Camberwell Space, London

Co-curated by Maiko Tsutsumi and Karen Richmond Featuring works by Neil Brownsword, David Clarke, Michael Marriott, Jasper Morrison, Gareth Neal

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The Thingness exhibition, curated by Maiko Tsutsumi and Karen Richmond, was held in Camberwell Space from April to May in 2011. The exhibition was accompanied by a symposium and a booklet (introduction and essay, co-written by Maiko Tsutsumi and Karen Richmond).

This project began with an on-going conversation between the two curators, about our mutual interest in materiality of things and in particular the role it plays in our teaching practices. We wanted to bring forth things that are unsaid but somehow we saw in the materiality of designed and crafted objects.

The exhibition featured works of Neil Brownsword, David Clarke, Michael Marriott, Gareth Neal, and a slideshow by Jasper Morrison. The exhibitors are selected by the strong presence, which Karen and I felt, of ‘materiality’ as a key element that was defining the characteristics of their works, as well as the experience the viewers had when viewing these works.

Introduction text for the exhibition:

What role does ‘the materiality of things’ play in our relationship to the objects we create and consume?

There is a renewed interest in what the act of making does to humans and our understanding of the object. Makers and designers are at a point of reflection: re-evaluating our sensitivities to objects and materials. The exhibition and accompanying symposium reflect on how objects come to be and how the making of an object affords it ‘a voice’. Selected works by five artists and designers explore people’s relationship with objects through materiality and the making process.

Building on Camberwell College’s reputation for ‘making’, the exhibition proposes to create a dialogue around notions of ‘the maker’, ‘the making process’ and ‘the material’. The symposium will facilitate an exchange of ideas between designers, theorists, makers of objects, curators, art and design historians, anthropologists, educationalists and material scientists around the theme of ‘Thingness’.

Link to Thingness blog/website

This project was a defining project for me as a researcher. It set my research path into the role of materiality in visual arts practices, and beyond. My research back then started with the question that Heidegger posed: ‘what is a thing?’, which I further interpreted into the question: what makes an experience of a thing, and what role(s) materiality play in that experience? How does materiality contribute to the formation of the essence of things?