gormless ...

by Marianne Springham

This article orginally appeared in Artscene: Yorkshire & Humberside in April, 1997. The curator would like to thank Marianne Springham and the editors of Artscene for their permission to reproduce it here.

I had a bad experience with the exhibition - Networking November. I had submitted a piece that I had had in my mind for a while. I knew it would take a lot of hard work, but I did not mind because Leeds Artists' Network had offered to sponsor the piece; so hey! what did I have to lose?

A lot, because this piece was important to me; it was the end of a long process that I had been through with my work, the grande finale to at least three years of thought and ideas. The problem was that the only people who got to see it were at the opening.

The piece was based upon Anthony Gormley's work - A Field for the British Isles, and consisted of approximately three hundred biscuits which I made in my converted kitchen/industrial kitchenette.

For three weeks prior to the exhibition, I churned out biscuit-upon-biscuit gorm and stand. The idea was that in my kitchenette I would go through a process that was just as valid as any of those primarily seen as fine art. It was made to challenge the idea of making art, to get a public response.

The piece was called Anthony Gormley eat your heart out!;in my mind it would be a room full of biscuit gorms all cut out with cutters I had made and burnt in the oven - due to its unevenness of course! When the piece was realised it did resemble the original. I had placed all the burnt gorms together to suggest the cloud formations of a field. I had large text on the walls and had framed my cutters, called Tools of the Trade.

On the opening night people commented on the overwhelming smell of my biscuits (which was probably me). I dressed up as a tea lady and served tea with the biscuit gorms that I had prepared earlier.

The show that I exhibited at was out-of-town and hard to find, so most of the audience at the opening were friends of the organisers and artists. The next morning I went back to see if any of the gorms had fallen during the opening night, only to be told that someone had decided to play football with the reluctant gorms and to smash the frame that my dad had made.

I was told: Oh well, Marianne; life goes on.

The piece was never made to be permanent, but it was made to be seen. After the opening it was barely seen by anyone due to the show's uneasy access. After a while the gorms all collapsed because it was a damp space.

Is anyone interested? I mean, they were only biscuits, weren't they? Hey but what about my time and ideas that no one saw? What about the time I spent baking (four at a time) the 350 gorms? I was left feeling disappointed that there was no feedback about the exhibition and that it was not seen by many people.

All the artists at the same site (East Street Studios) probably feel the same as I - but they can show their work again; who's going to want to see a pile of soggy crumbs? Oh well, life goes on, and I'm afraid I have to say I haven't learnt from the experience. I can still cater for a wide audience: no job too small?