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All in a day, Brian

Whitechapel Gallery, London and the Royal College of Art, London

“I was looking to find some middle ground between the artist as a performer and the artist as an employer, exploring being an artist as employment at the same time. Collaboration is a great place to explore this, I wondered how many lines I could blur or ideas I could layer up in a collaboration/delegated performance/artist performing conglomeration. This is how I came to the idea of working with one or both of my parents. Parents are physically and emotionally linked to you, an intimate connection is perceived if not evident, but they are also, of course, separate people with identities outside of the parent titles. So at this point, I thought of my fathers work. My father Brian has been a bricklayer since he was sixteen, studying bricklaying at college in the mid-1970s. Something that has been evident to me since a young child is that he believes in bricklaying, in the same way that I believe in art. My father's craft is becoming less valued over the years, which translates to there being less paid work, what was once the primary building method in the UK is now being replaced by faster, cheaper and less craft lead methods.

So this seemed to be an interesting collaboration, for me to work as an artist and for Brian to work as a bricklayer. This is how “All in a Day, Brian” came to form. I developed the concept, to ask my father to build the tallest brick wall he could in eight hours, his typical working day. My father designed it, a single wythe, stretcher bond, wall, that steps up in opposite directions from each end to support its height. We intertwined all of the processes, from concept through to execution. I helped with the pointing (the finishing of the cement in-between the bricks). Brian titled the work, a role that as the Bricklayer he never gets to do. Architects and homeowners name houses, not the workers. I made the materials list, which frustrated some critics, unable to understand how Brian could be a coauthor of the piece with me and also be listed as “8 hours of my fathers time” in the materials list. For me the materials list illustrates the dichotomy of my relationship with Brian, we collaborate as an artist and a bricklayer, at the same time as a daughter and a father. So as the bricklayer Brian built the wall, and as the artist, I applied for an opportunity to exhibit it.”