Monday, 24 June 2013

Cate Golding: a case study of an artist at MoDA

Earlier in the spring, classes of Middlesex University Fine Art students visited the study room for introductory sessions about MoDA's collections. Their visit prompted me to think about how fine art students engage with MoDA's collection and consider if their approach was different to their applied art cousins - Fashion, Interior Architecture, Illustration and Jewellery students.

Over the years we have written on the blog about fine artists who have produced work inspired by MoDA's collections; particularly Felicity Ford and Giulia Ricci.  Recently I came across the work of Cate Golding who collaborated with MoDA on two separate art installation projects.

Cate Golding is a fine artist with a background in architecture, specializing in the medium of glass. Cate collaborated with MoDA on two projects and for each took a different approach. On her first piece she developed an installation that explored a subject matter related to our collection and a few years earlier, created work which used production methods and the materiality of artefacts as a launch point.

In 2003, Cate and several other artists were commissioned to make collection-inspired pieces to be exhibited in the grounds of MoDA’s original museum building in Cat Hill. Cate chose to look at old fashioned wallpapers in the collection. She studied designs which were most suited to replicating on glass: small repeat patterns, with one or two colours and clear voids. She used these patterns to create see through-glass squirrel feeders which were placed in the garden. This was an interactive art piece for the squirrels at least who scratched away at them trying to get to the contents!

In 2006 Cate was freelancing for the education department at MoDA when the exhibition In Search of Suburbia opened. She picked up on the theme and decided to explore it further. She was working at the time for Middlesex University and sought permission for an art installation in the Hendon campus library.

Drawing on MoDA's collection of Suburbia-related objects and thinking around the theme, Cate began to put little 'tasters' through the university library exploring the topic. There was a soundtrack of birdsong in the copy room, potted runner beans in the lobby and  a garden gnome on the librarian’s desk.

At the time, Art and Design students were not based at Middlesex’s main Hendon campus but these art installations were well received, as was the idea of putting more art on campus. Cate then developed a glass installation based around local area maps incorporating projected video interviews with people who lived in suburbia. Sadly she missed out on some key funding for this work. It was made, but never installed.

We cannot always anticipate where inspiration is found, and this is particularly true for fine artists. In instances such as group visits to MoDA’s study room sometimes it is hard for us to anticipate what parts of our collection will be the most relevant and interesting to students who may come without a clear idea of what they want. Cate’s work illustrates two ‘ways in’ to MoDA’s collection and provides examples of pathways for turning these ideas into art. 

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