Lauren Gault

Looking at your writing, I want to draw a connection between the structure of the mouth and that of a vessel. It’s as if to say that both vessels and the body (or specifically the mouth/hyoid) possess an embodied knowledge, or their own ‘terroir’. They clearly function quite differently however, the history of the mouth is superseded by language itself which prevents us from studying its ‘embodied knowledge’. Or put another way, imagine if wine could talk?

I think that discovering the term ‘terroir’ was a really important moment for my research. A term used to describe a wine as having a particular ‘time’, ‘altitude’ or ‘environment’, the material could be said to be ‘inhabited’ by these abstract qualities. Through our encounter with that material, we can access these things without having encountered them in ‘real’ time. I’m interested in ideas of somehow ‘knowing’ without physically experiencing.

This idea helped me to think about how I could approach my sculptural practice when it came to material choices or processes. I found the idea of a blankness or muteness within the particular materials I was using problematic, and wanted to develop my sculptural language by seeing how they could be inhabited by complex narratives, held within their body or fabric. I also wanted to look at where this occurs within existing objects or matter and how these encounters can be facilitated.

When I thought of work in this way, I began to think through the idea of an existing ‘embodied knowledge’. In the same way that that wine could take on an abstract quality, so perhaps could a time be unconsciously present or active in matter or object. Whilst I was on residency in Düsseldorf, I learned that our hyoid, the bone in our throat that facilitates speech, is identical to that of a Neanderthals and therefore through the use of our hyoid, we are carrying out processes or actions identical to a Neanderthal, and they us. In these cases, it’s as if time becomes elastic or connected by these presences and experiences. We know what they knew, and vice versa. The actions are subconscious but the implications are abstract and uncanny. ‘Language’, if you describe it in lingual terms, is most interesting when one considers that through its use, an uncannyness is facilitated by the muscle or word formation.

This idea was explored in a few text pieces which describe uncanny encounters with matter that still appears ‘fresh’ even after huge amounts of time has passed, for example the discovery of 3000 year old butter in a peat bog, still with the finger prints of its maker in its yellow surface, or the discovery of 5000 year old honey. I think it’s the idea that these materials are still ‘fresh’ or ‘live’, presenting a collapse or closeness of time. I’m really interested in this closeness to ‘time’ that is facilitated through the resonance within objects, not in a museological or artefactual sense, but through a ‘felt-ness’, they still ‘address’ us.

It’s a language of ‘felt-ness’ that I’m interested in throughout my practice more broadly. It goes beyond talking in a traditional sense, looking towards the facilitation of something outside of linear language, something abstract. I love to think that somehow times, experiences or narratives are not only collapsed and expanded in materials and your encounter of them, but that you also become written into the objects narrative. They are in the process of passing, not past. To return to the mouth, or in particular our hyoid, its interesting to think about that live connectedness, or future connectedness, times almost touching.

All these examples are with materials that are very ‘primary’ like bone, butter, honey. They are very ‘known’ or perceived to be ‘known’. It’s interesting to try and reposition these materials and interrogate them, not as artefacts but more as motifs which help me develop my own sculptural/text language and theory, applying these motifs and ideas to contemporary concerns.

Lauren Gault

Y.O.R.B, (installation detail), Atelier Am Eck, Düsseldorf, 2014. clay, towel, cast resin, tracing paper, door stop silver leaf, oil paint, water. Photo: Achim Kukulies

B. Belfast (1986), Lauren Gault lives and works in Glasgow. She is currently undertaking a two month residency and solo exhibition with Hotel Maria Kapel, Hoorn, The Netherlands.