ARTSBEAT ART: Photographs that capture long-forgotten moments, well-used pieces of furniture and trinkets that were once much-loved, have been bought together by a University of Derby student to form a striking installation art piece for her final year degree show.
All of the items behind the door and small windows of the ‘memory room’ were found lost, abandoned or donated to charity around Derbyshire by Mary Stephanou, 20, who is in the final year of a BA (Hons) Creative Expressive Therapies degree.
Mary was inspired to bring together the items she discovered in charity shops, skips, parks and abandoned buildings; creating the thought provoking room to explore the idea that each object holds many memories, but that they can only be known to each item’s original owner.
She said: “Everything in the room, even its doors and windows, had been left or abandoned, and we have no way of knowing who they originally belonged to, or who the photographs are of. But despite this, you can feel that every item was once important to someone – whether it formed part of their home or captured a moment in their lives. By bringing them all together, the room feels like it holds a host of memories, and it is up to the visitor to draw their own conclusions about what they could be.”
Jean Bennett, senior lecturer in therapeutic arts, said: “Mary’s room is incredibly atmospheric and evocative. As you enter the space its lighting and odour touches many of the senses and you can’t help but be affected by the room as a whole as well as by the individual items you encounter. It is a wonderful exploration of memory, attachment and association.”
Mary’s installation took many months and visits around Derby and Derbyshire to complete. During one trip to Belper she came across an abandoned front door, and realising it would be the perfect entrance to her space had to transport it back to Derby by bus.
“I found many of the items while carrying out a photography project where I took self-portraits in abandoned buildings around the city which depict me as a ghostly solitary figure. It struck me that these buildings and lost items once held meaning and memories for someone, and I wanted to pursue that theme.”
The installation forms part of the BA (Hons) Creative Expressive Therapies degree final year exhibition, Statement as Image at the University’s Britannia Mill site, on Mackworth Road, Derby. It will be opened by Marian Liebmann OBE, at 6pm on Friday May 31. The exhibition will then be open to the public from June 1 – 11.