Lorna Williams, threefold, 2013,
Lorna Williams, threefold, 2013, plumbing hardware, bike hardware, speaker, sea urchins, turtle shell, plaster mold, hexagon nuts, copper wire, 55 x 22 x 14.25 inches (middle panel detail) Photo: Jason Mandella

I’m in New York. I was lucky enough to wander in on an artist talk at the Dodge Gallery, Soho.

I’d come to view the work – appositions: still / birth / shit – by Lorna Williams’ – but had no idea the artist would be present.

It seems the body is Lorna Williams’ main focus – crafting sculptures of the inside of bodies from bicycle parts, screws, hooks, hair, musical instruments.

An audience member asked her whether she would ever return to painting. Her answer was that painting was too confined – right now she was literally dancing about making these sculptures – they used up so much of her energy that making these pieces she lost two stone in weight. And she liked to watch the dance of the audience moving around and looking at the sculptures.

I have always wanted to hear something about the making of sculptures – for her a frenzied, sometimes violent affair (there are razor blades in her sculptures and she often gets cut) – she often is exhausted after making them and she lives for that.

Audience with Lorna Williams
Audience with Lorna Williams

I listened to her talk as i walked around her work. Its intriguing – kidneys and lungs made from wing nuts – hemmed together by copper wire, metal hooks or screws for vertebrae.

She knows something about the body – crafting this – giving birth to these forms. What is it that drives us to make?

Prior to this i was at the New Museum – an interesting building – the best part of it is the studio off to the side of it where an exhibition on ‘Critical Making’ was on where a group of artists had been busy making work – everything from open source bicycles to book chapters on DIY science and 3D printing.

It was refreshing to read about this idea and practice of critical making in the context of DIYscience – that hackers and makers tinkering with science are somehow critiquing the methods of science by hacking the process, throwing open how it is done by reworking it from the inside-out.

Again I am intrigued.

And it leads me to think about the practice of science and what is learned from actually doing science – spending 3 years of your life slicing up brains & looking down a microscope – what does it do to the body, to the mind? On the one hand, what are we grappling with when we create something, whether art, science, literature – and on the other – what is grappling with us? How does our state of mind/ of body influence the outcome of the things we make – from the cities we craft to the houses we inhabit, to the jobs that we do, to the food that we make? It feels like a fail swoop but maybe there is something in this narrative?

TRACEY EMIN Lonely Chair drawing V, 2012
TRACEY EMIN Lonely Chair drawing V, 2012 gouache on paper 39.96 x 53.94 inches 101.5 x 137 cm LM16847

There are twenty or thirty small galleries scattered throughout SoHo, downtown New York. And one of them, to my joy, housed new paintings – sketches – by Tracey Emin. All on sale – the smallest – £16,000 and the larger ones – £45,000. The familiar mark of this artist – the commodity of her mark making is testament in a way to what i am trying to get at – she is good at encapsulating a state of mind – in a sketch – capturing a sense of something – loved – fucked – tired – reaching out – and not quite getting there. There is a restless irritability in her drawings and her writings and yet they are complete little itches – small atlases of emotion – visible fleetingly – just out of grasp. Priceless.


  1. Erinma, Just wanted to say hello. I met you in Newfoundland. Digging your post and contemplating the creation of things. Leaving the city of Bangkok right now and heading North to a refugee camp on the Thai/Burma border. Coming to grasp with differing realities on a spectrum, from complete freedom to prisoner. Anyways, wanted to say hello…in Thai สวัสดี -Kara

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