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Thursday, 14 April 2011

80's Bouncy Castle

How retro is this! For my M.A. Show I wanted to create a big and bold piece of art work that evoked childhood memories. As a child of the 80's, I decided to investigate my siblings and friends memories and asked them to note them down. I collected memories from lecturers, parents, grandparents and colleagues as my raw material for an installation. The Playpen 2004, and Pod Installation 2004, were constructed for the viewer to physically engage with and respond to the tactile nature of the mediums used. I wanted to create a piece that would physically take the viewer back to their childhood - to allow them to play, to let their guard down, to be a child again. And so the bouncy castle was born.

To start with I drew up plans and made a small model of the castle out of felt, embroidering the memories on the sides of the walls.

After much fund raising and saving, I found a company based in Romania that took on my project. The castle had specific measurement (12ft x 15ft x 16ft) but more importantly had to be strengthened to be safe for adults to use without compromising on the design.

After a long wait of a month, the castle was delivered and here is the finished product. It was interesting to watch viewers respond to this piece and to how they felt they could engage with the work. Primarily viewers enjoyed reading the memories printed around the castle, provoking discussion and evoking memories that they shared.

Initially people read the comments and memories and walked around the piece, joking about times they had been on a bouncy castle, gradually approaching the castle and feeling the material, running hands along the forms of the bumps and testing out the spring by pushing down on it. Once the first brave person got on, people began to follow, still not sure whether it was acceptable to actually physically engage with the art work. Throughout the few showings the castle has had viewers have bounced, flipped, sat in the corner and read, but more importantly remembered what it feels like to let go and have a bit of fun.