Selfridges - Bright Old Things - Roger M Miles – Artist’s statement
My Art Practice
Collecting, memorialising, petrifying, cannibalising and recording – my practice attempts to combine these processes with found objects and their histories, through the creative processes of sculpture, installations and printmaking.
The resulting work activates discarded items, disrupts imagined histories and celebrates both the materiality and the past of the altered objects.
The work is not about nostalgia but more about looking at what lessons we can learn today from the events of the past. The work is didactic by nature, and I enjoy sharing my experiences and the stories of the objects with the viewer.
Past art projects
For two months, in the summer of 2013, I was artist-in-residence at my local recycling and re-use centre, with full access to all items headed for landfill. The project was wide ranging and included researching the journey of a discarded object, observing society’s need to both dispose of and collect consumer goods, discussing the history of objects with their owners and responding to the melancholia attached to the objects.
My final degree show installation, Resonate/Generate, was my imagining of the arrival, at the recycling and re-use site, of a discarded mobile library, with my dream contents from the 70s. I was 13 years old at the start of this formative decade and, by the end, I had completed my first degree and started work as a trainee chartered accountant. The installation is a memorial to my experience and the poignant effect of this time. As well as triggering memories, the work also raises questions about how much progress we have made as a society in the past 50 years, as well as being an immersive and entertaining experience.
Bright Old Things
I worked in Selfridges’ bedspread department for 4 weeks during the Christmas of 1975. I was 18, had just started my accountancy studies degree at Exeter University and everything was exciting and an opportunity.
However, the UK was almost bankrupt, inflation had risen to 24%, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen was no.1, bomb alerts and bomb scares were the norm, people were even changing from bedspreads to Scandinavian duvets – you felt that something had to give…
But it was not all doom and gloom. The Sex Pistols had just given their first public performance, punk music was just around the corner, Fawlty Towers aired for the first time, Margaret Thatcher had become the first female leader of the Tory party and the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts were brought in.
So what was I doing, whilst all around me things were changing?
Well, I was lost in music, cars, girls and, to some extent, accountancy studies.
This led to a successful thirty year career with Deloitte and a great family life. Then, 5 years ago I thought, in the words of Neil Young, I won’t retire but I might retread. So I went to art school.
Now, almost 40 years after my bedspread experience, I have returned as an artist to Selfridges, more experienced but not necessarily any the wiser. My window is a memorial to a 70s record store selling my perfect selection of vinyl records of the 70s – a safe haven from the turmoil outside - everyone with heads full of music.