When branches emerge undivided
The works in When branches emerge undivided are engaged with the artist’s attempts to re-imagine previous works, to create space for alternative readings. The title is taken from Through Vegetal Being: Two Philosophical Perspectives by Luce Irigray and Michael Marder (2016); a personal, philosophical and political meditation on the significance of the vegetal on our lives, ways of thinking and relations with human and nonhuman beings.
Tablet LI (2017) and Tablet LII (2017) are continuations of the artist’s ongoing series Tablets, begun in 2011, and comprise beach combed findings from the Thames River, and various beaches around the world. These objects are combined with other elements such as mica flakes and Chinese ink, before being embedded in plaster to create forms reminiscent to ancient artefacts used as forms of documentation.
For these newest iterations of the Tablets series, Lees has used beehive honeycomb frames. Removing the honeycomb, the wire armatures act as dividers to formalise the display. The deliberate use of the frames, taken from the collective hive, reference the tablets’ roles as isolated elements from a much larger collection of documentation, archive and personal narrative.
Presented on the floor is a knitted VHS tape, sourced from second-hand and charity shops. Each blanket is from a single VHS video series, for example A History of Britain Parts 1-3 (2017) is knitted from Simon Schama’s BBC series from 2000-02.
With the blankets, Lees’ intentions are dual purpose; to both re-purpose information and create a different mode of appreciation, as well as examining the failures of technology and engaging with the history of materials. Although ultimately the VHS tape remains the same, without the VHS player it becomes obsolete. In this iteration, the tape becomes a visually appealing sculpture that offers the viewer the opportunity to meditate on the information stored within the stitching.
To prepare for the time ahead (2017) is a cast-iron walnut, produced by the artist using a process known as ‘burn-out’. The original walnut has been reduced to ashes and replaced with metal, operating as a solid and lasting metaphor for storing food. Like animals storing food for winter, Lees seeks to create something that will stand the test of time and remain frozen in its symbolic connotations.