Work provides an artificial world of things... within its
borers each individual life is housed

(Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition )

The installation has been created by means of a conscious trading of work for work: volunteers in the artist’s studio have laboured on a production line of hand-casts and, in return, have been taught the esoteric and difficult skills of the casting-process. The project, thus, makes ‘work’ visible, investigating the relationship between work and personal identity and status : work and the community : work and labour.

Volunteers for hand-casts, or for work on the production line, were recruited at random through the local press, radio and by word-of-mouth. The local community, thus, was drawn into the hermetic space of an artist’s work-room, in this case, Sheila Gaffney’s studio in Dean Clough, Halifax. The hands were first cast in plaster and then moulded in pink wax, a time consuming process demanding great patience from the sitter, as well as considerable skill from the artist. Hence, the sitters were forced to spend at least an hour in an artist’s studio, a place which most people would not visit otherwise. They became involved in the process of an intellectually demanding art-practice and they saw that any artistic activity is, basically, hard work. Hence, through the common necessity of labour, Gaffney provided a mutual ground of understanding between herself and the lay-public.

Locale Essay