As an artist/designer and author I have worked within the brick industry and used brick in public artworks for over 20 years. My book Brickworks focuses on its creative uses within public art through discussing the work of a number of international artists who use brick as their main medium. Within this PhD project I am interested in adding a new vocabulary to an existing language developed by myself and other artists, which has its technical origins in my research into the historical traditions and contemporary innovations within the brick industry; specifically, with a focus on cutting boxes and the extruder. The insights gained will be used to inform innovative new ways of exploiting the technology within my practice, i.e. alterations to the basic process of brick making, developing the cutting boxes and extruder to enable the play of light and shadow, development of glazing techniques to explore reflectivity and the way these developments will impact on the use of brick both within my own construction methods and in the context of the broader landscape.
The research will identify and evaluate key theories and debates associated with the manipulation/ exploitation of light and shade in sculpture/architecture in aesthetic terms with particular relationship to their place within the landscape.
A recent key project within this PhD has been ‘Topographies of the Obsolete’, funded by the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme and Bergen Academy of Art and Design in collaboration with the British Ceramic Biennial (BCB) 2013:
Heeney developed work which formed part of the Topographies of Obsolete, Vociferous Void exhibition at the Spode factory site Sep-Nov 2013, as part of the BCB. The exhibition included work relating to the post-industrial site in Stoke on Trent, and aimed to address a number of issues, including the Socio-Economic Post Industrial Landscape as site, The Human Topography of Post-Industry, The Topography of Objects/Archives the Artist/Archaeologist, The Topography of the Contemporary Ruin.
Using moulds from the redundant mould stores, Heeney meticulously selected forms which articulate through a site-specific floor installation using light and shadow, issues of collective memory, history of ‘place’, a record of a past ‘site’ of invention, a mapping of creative pasts. The structure of the installation made connections with current information technology i.e. ‘Quick Response Codes’. The moulds become a means of communicating the past and possibly declaring/ predicting the future; a key to the skills left behind.
The moulds are conceived as multiple structures slightly parted, in grids on the floor. Heeney uses the constraints of the building to articulate form and movement interacting with the light and shadow as it moves around the derelict building. Like the shell of the empty building each mould represents the shell of a productive past allowing the light to reveal shadows; the shadows reveal the anthropology of the forms within. Light and shadow on another level physically and metaphorically describes the past ‘dark side’ of the company; the physical labour which marked its worldwide success.
Exhibition catalogue texts: http://topographies.khib.no/media/1936629/vociferous_void.pdf
Website: Topographies of the Obsolete. http://topographies.khib.no/