Salt to start with

Yesterday morning I received a postcard from my friend Anne:
Photo: Woytek Konarzewski

In fact I didn't know what a fleur de sel was, and had to do a bit of searching. (This site describes the production of a salt flower, if like me, you don't know what it is and want to understand the poetic title of the image above. And the text is quite charming, something like very good English, with a few creative awkwardnesses.) Essentially it is a salt for gourmets, created in the salt marshes of Guérande (meaning in Breton, white country) in Brittany. Salt flowers are the young salt crystals which form naturally on the surface of the pools, when a hot, light breeze blows across them.

Fleur de Sel has been created by Anu Tuominen - the postcard jogged a memory from way, way back. Her name has been mentioned to me before, but I never followed it up. What a loss!

I was struck by two things…

Firstly, her great use of puns within the titles of the work (a little like Cornelia Parker, the titles make the meaning of the pieces fall into place). A series of crocheted dinner mats remain attached to the the balls of thread that form them. The balls sit in a selection of mismatched egg cups. The title is Eggtempura on Canvas. She seems to have a way of looking at language, at twisting it, playing on its' idiosyncrasies and re-presenting it back to the viewer from a new angle. It's like her world view is from far above, or crawling underneath or through fog. In a way her view is simpler. Somehow she has a different perspective on reality - she makes an unreality out of things that are very much present and real, and associated with domesticity and the living.

Secondly I simply like the way she presents her work. It's very simple, but well-considered. And all based around the theme of the kitchen.

When I completed my MA I always wanted to make an exhibition of work about a particular room. The room would be filled with objects exploring and challenging the essence of the everyday things that we surround ourselves with. I was fixated with doors that made the viewer contemplate what a door was, windows that were at odds with their purpose, clothes that were actually words and welcome mats that made the floor a mess. When I was researching at the British Library I was obsessed with the parlour - a room that now no longer truly exists as it once did: a room for special occasions, but also which would have been at the heart of the Victorian domestic setup.

Gradually I moved away from the idea - thinking perhaps it was too literal as a container for the sort of work that I was producing. But seeing Tuominen's work has opened up the possibility again, for I think she's managed to create a domestic feeling space, without labouring the point, still managing to be discrete enough.

For more information about Anu Tuominen, look here and
It's also worth looking at Karsten Bott and his Archive of Contemporary History. And here at One of Each, a book he's published about domestic objects. There's a similar sort of aesthetic happening in his work.