Question for SellerGallery 1
8th Dec 2006 to 2nd Feb 2007
About The Exhibition
Nicky Bird makes work using material from the past, with the aim of examining the contemporary relevance of found photographs. Archives, photography and bookworks have been central to her practice, but since 2003, the Internet and New Media have been significant to new works. This currently involves collecting everyday family photographs through the Internet marketplace of eBay.
Question for Seller is fuelled by her interest in family photographs that appear on eBay. The artist buys photographs no-one else bids for, with the connotation that they are unwanted, and therefore with no significant value. She approaches the seller with the question – How did you come across the photos and what, if anything, do you know about them? Their replies, however brief, are as important as the photographs they are selling – sometimes alluding to a part of a discarded family history, or the everyday, where personal photographs have long since lost their original meaning.
These photographs, in the form of ‘lots’ from eBay, are presented in different ways: on the gallery walls, on a table, in both physical and virtual book form. On 1st February the value of one work in the show will be determined by eBay itself, when the one-off physical ‘family album’ is finally auctioned. In common with the other works on show, the album also combines original photographs and eBay sellers’ statements. Once the album is sold and – market forces permitting - sent off to its eBay owner, the wall works and the virtual bookwork Question for You will remain. Question for You incorporates an on-going collection of responses from Belfast Exposed’s audience to photographs on the table. Consequently, artefact and audience, both physical and virtual, help engage with two questions: what is our relationship to the past, and what is the value we ascribe to it?
Nicky Bird is an artist, whose practice combines photography and interdisciplinary collaboration. Her work often investigates the theme of photography and hidden history, portraiture and genealogy. This is demonstrated through a number of recent projects such as Tracing Echoes 2001, realised as both an exhibition and a publication, through to the website www.unknownsitter.com launched earlier this year.
A number of site specific residencies have been pivotal: Dimbola Lodge, the UK home of Julia Margaret Cameron (2000), Rhode Island’s Arcade, the oldest Indoor Shopping Mall in the USA (2000/1), the Scottish historic house of Hospitalfield (2003) and Edinburgh’s Stills Gallery (2003-4). Further information on these residencies and others, can be found on the artist’s website www.nickybird.com
Nicky Bird has received several awards for her work: in 2005 she was a recipient of an Alt-W Creative On-line Works Award (for Question for Seller), and secured a British Academy Research Grant; in 2004, a National Lottery Award from Scottish Arts Council supported a limited edition bookwork (for Imprinted Matter), which was exhibited in the group show Inside/Out at Stills. Nicky has exhibited nationally and internationally, with Question for Seller being her first show in Northern Ireland.
Alongside residencies, exhibitions, and contributions to arts journalism, Nicky has been working with lens-based practitioners at both undergraduate and PhD levels. In June 2006 she was appointed as a PhD Co-Ordinator at Glasgow School of Art, after nine years as an Associate Senior Lecturer on the BA in Contemporary Photographic Practice at Northumbria University.