The crypt at Euston is a historically rich and emotive site, the bed of the Fleet River (now buried underground), an air raid shelter during both World Wars and still now the final resting place of 557 souls. The brief for ‘In the shadows of a subterranean river’ was to create works which responded the highly charged and atmospheric space of the crypt.

For some this meant moving completely outside of their normal practice to create something which resonated with the space, however for me it was important to marry my practices interests, aesthetics and narratives with the imposing historical and atmospheric conditions of the crypt gallery, to create something which both complimented my practice and which resonated well within the crypt.

Over the summer months I had been struggling with making new work, I found myself in a place of deep reflection and at some moments depressions, which inhibited me from moving forwards. I felt my practice had become solemn and morbid, and was grappling with finding the joy to create. As momentum gathered and pressure mounted to create an outcome for the crypt, I found myself returning to a poem that I had written last year called ‘The room where the child sleeps’. Part of this poem reads;

“We sit as people in between places, upon a steady base, with unrelenting urge, untouchable, to move back, undone by ourselves, to move forward, in rooms where the child sleeps, unawake, in our minds, sitting as people, in between, places, it is our nature, to transition, in constant and unrelenting urges, moving forward and backward”

The idea of a resting place, a place of shelter and of protection, felt like a solid starting point. I started to envisage a space which was safe/unsafe, protected/exposed/, disturbing/comforting. Much like the space of the crypt itself I wanted to create a world of opposition. The crypt is a resting place for the bodies of the departed, it has also been used as a shelter during the world wars. There is a duality to the space which sits somewhere between eerie and safe. This was the key to the interaction between my work and the crypt.  

Skills employed:

  •  Collaboration

  • wood workshop 

  • marketing​

  • social media

  • PR materials

Logistics 

For the crypt exhibition I was part of the Marketing team. As a team, we oversaw the production of all the PR materials, social media and advertising for the event. My personal contribution to this was setting up and maintaining the social media aspect, creating an event page on facebook and a tumbler for the MFA group which was used as a platform to showcase our work.

One of my ideas for the facebook group was to take pictures of artists working on their art works in the studios at Wimbledon, I felt this would be a successful way to entice our audience and to give them snippets of the work they were going to see.

The logistics of working with in a group can sometimes be difficult, however I feel that as a team we worked very well together, both within our marketing team and within the whole team overall. And although we were split into individual teams, we all helped out were possible in other aspects of the show set up and preparation.

[Cara Jean working in the studios]

Making outcomes

For my installation “the room where the child sleeps” I wanted to create three child size beds, three sets of child size duvets and pillows, three dogs, and three wall tapestries. This was a huge commitment from the beginning and soon I realised I needed to scale back the installation, both to insure I could make everything on time and because less is sometimes more!

The making of the child’s beds took place in the wood workshops at Wimbledon college, for this I came with some drawings and measurements specific to the space I had chosen for my installation. I had worked within the wood workshop before and so already had some of the skills needed to make what I needed. Once the beds were made I realised I had made one mistake with my measurements, which meant that one end of each of the beds was about 4 inches higher. Happily, after assembling my beds in the project space I realised that the slight tilt on the beds created an odd, uneasy and dreamlike quality and so added to the aesthetic that I had originally intended for the piece, and so I kept it.