On ‘Absent Friends’ (1992):
When ‘Absent Friends’ was being created in the summer of 1992, I remember being astonished at the preparations Chris made beforehand. Given a bog standard classroom by Southampton Institute in which to exhibit his Foundation show, he installed a wooden floor over the carpet and hung loose paper vertically from floor to ceiling. The floor was then sealed with tape and painted white, creating a ‘white cube’ exhibition space.
It was in this space that he created the beeswax & hair and the tied hair on cast paper ‘canvases’ that were the major components of the installation. These were then lit from behind by two batches of candles.
The ticking metronome on the table could be heard right through the whole level of that building, amplified by the wooden floor, meeting the spectator at the top of the stairs.
During the Llandaf Student Exhibition, Chris cleverly utilised the available space so as to present his work in the best light possible. In this case, literally.
On Attention to Detail:
The even stitching found out of view on the back of the ‘Absent Friends’ canvases is evidence of Chris’s incredible attention to detail. This seemingly insignificant work always proved (to me at least) the lengths Chris would go to in order to realise an idea. Although this detail was never meant to be seen, it was important to him that it was done to the highest standard and most precise measurements. And it must be made clear that this focus never detracted from the fundamental concerns and ideas his work was about. In pursuit of clarity of vision, he would consider every element, big or small.
When I used to hear from Chris (he in Cardiff, myself in London), he spoke of creating a sort of ‘mini museum’ of his sculptures, within the street-facing window of his room. I took that to mean that he intended to ‘seal’ off the window with a backdrop, so as to create a stage. Onto this he would place significant sculptures, to show to the passer-by. This idea was posited in 1993 and, I presume, he had in mind some of the ‘bulb’ objects for display.