Maquettes and learning through doing

For the last couple of days at Wolverhampton I’ve been working through what form the cabinet might take this time around.

Last time around it was a rectangular Nikki-sized construction with a porthole through which you could peer through and see the innards moving around. Except not everyone could peer through – I was mortified when I realised a friend in a wheelchair couldn’t quite get high enough to have a look at what was going on inside.

Since then I’ve been trying to find a balancing point between accessibility and also being very attached to not wanting the cabinet to reveal all of itself too easily. I like it when you have to make a deliberate physical action to view something, bringing you out of passive viewing mode and back into a body and 3D space.


I’ve been experimenting with a sort of locket form, trying to get a feel for what it’s like to look inside and move around to see different parts of it.

Here’s the first maquette I tried to work out what sort of angle of the top part might function best at:


It seemed like it might be somewhere along the right line, so I’ve been thinking about how this might then scale up and how it might be made out of more structural materials. Top of the list at the moment is a layered form out of plywood, but I wasn’t sure how that would work out, so back to the cardboard…




Still feeling optimistic about it!

Next stage is to work out what’s to go inside it and then scale things up accordingly.

Meanwhile, it’s now looking unlikely that I’ll be able to do the cycle ride I’d planned to use to animate the cabinet. As a result I’m having a bit of a rethink about how the cabinet might manifest as part of a final piece of work. It’s been a bit hard to let go of my original plan, but mixed in with that is also the realisation that it’s also almost certainly going to be a stronger piece of work now as a result.

The original plan was, after all, based on the pilot project I did back in 2013 and my thinking has moved on a bit since then, as have the questions I’m asking of/through my practice. With last year’s Where the Sky Widens and current R&D for Colony I began to pay closer attention to the spaces and frameworks I was making for conversation and for the sharing of stories. Of where we could get to through using the things I make.

Whereas so far in this residency I’ve been talking about how I’m interested in how having a visualisation of the effort the rider is having to put in (rather than a pin-marker on a map giving just location) changes the conversation, now things are shifting more towards me actively seeking out those conversations rather than disappearing off on my bike for a week – which would have been differently good! – but I always had the nagging feeling that that wasn’t really where the action was and that something was missing.

The thing is I’ve not worked much in this way before, so I’m having to feel my way through in much the same was as I’m doing with the maquettes to help me arrive at the physical form of the cabinet. Try something; sit with it a bit; see how I feel about it; next steps; iterate.