Created specially for The Hospital for Dazed Art exhibition, for which artists were asked to revisit and rescue old or discarded artworks, Attempt at an Inventory… is Harrison’s attempt to take account of all the creative production she was responsible for in her formative years, exhibited alongside her first known self-portrait.
Created specially for The Hospital for Dazed Art exhibition curated by Iain Sturrock and Delia Baillie, for which artists were asked to revisit and rescue old or discarded artworks, Attempt at an Inventory… is Harrison’s attempt to take account of all the creative production she was responsible for in her formative years. The results were exhibited alongside her first known self-portrait (c.1983) at The Briggait in Glasgow from 10 – 14 February 2014.
The Hospital for Dazed Art exhibition featured work by Amy Marletta, Andrew Cranston, Anna Orton, Del Whitticase, Ellen Munro, Ellie Harrison, Emma Pratt, Oliver Braid and Sara Sinclair.
“Attempt at an Inventory of all the Objects Brought into the World by Me in the Course of the Last Thirty-Four Years, which are currently Collecting Dust in My Parents’ House in Ealing” (2014)
The idea for this project came about during my discussion with Iain Sturrock and Delia Baillie on 12 November 2013, about the paradox of being an aspiring minimalist with an obsessive tendency to collect and hoard (information and objects). ‘The Hospital for Dazed Art’ exhibition gave me the opportunity to confront the latent anxiety about the amount of stuff I have been responsible for creating during my life, much of which is still in storage or on display in the house where I was born and where my parents still live.
On 11 – 12 January 2014, I spent two days back there sorting through everything. The plan was to review, take account of and then order everything single last thing, in the hope of disposing of what could now be deemed ‘unnecessary’. When I opened up the cupboard in my old bedroom and discovered horrors such as all my old school books since nursery and twenty years’ worth of holiday snaps – all carefully conserved by my former self – I quickly realised what an overwhelming task this would be.
After several hours of sifting through, I discovered a printout of an essay by French writer George Perec, which I had used in my dissertation in 2003. “Attempt at an Inventory of the Liquid and Solid Foodstuffs Ingurgitated by Me in the Course of the Year Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Four” (1976) was one of the many detailed accounts of his life he produced as the result of his underlying fear of being forgotten. I decided to borrow from his title, taking comfort in using the word ‘attempt’ to pre-empt the inevitable inaccuracy and failure in achieving such an ambitious goal.
My resulting ‘inventory’ is presented on the following pages alongside one selected work – my first known self-portrait (c.1983) painted in poster paint at the nursery of Compton First School in Ealing. This has been on display in my parents’ kitchen for the last 30 years, until now.