Olivia Punnett

still%2c%20cromfordThere’s something calming about Olivia Punnett’s art installations. She wants them to evoke a sense of place and awaken something within us. Stir up some distant memory of a time past.

Whether it is from your childhood, your grandma’s kitchen, a summer’s walk just last year or an evening in front of the fire at Christmas she wants to help you go back there.

The Wirksworth-based artist who everyone calls Livvy says she has always been aware of the significance of her surroundings and wants others to share what she feels.

“One of my earliest memories was wanting to take a piece of woodchip wallpaper with me when we moved. I have always thought about what might have gone on before. What something will have seen or where it has been. I want to touch that moment.

“The dialectic between place and change are central concerns within my practice. I make installations and interventions that reflect this.

“In these spaces I arrange found and made materials and objects, whilst utilising the site’s existing architecture.”

The materials she has used have included dust, old wood, Formica, light boxes and other found materials in aged and sun-bleached colours.

Light is also an important catalyst for her. She records dust motes in a stream of light or the trajectory of light flowing through windows.

“Alongside and within the installations I use photography, projection and printmaking.
When building installations it’s the location’s sense of place, the evoked memories, real or fictional that continually inspire,” she explains.

One of her most effective installations was at Cromford Mill where she recreated the sunlight shining through the windows on to the mill floor with cotton and ‘dust’.

She felt using dust was relevant on a number of levels the most poignant being that for those working in the mill during the industrial revolution dust was a enormous health hazard.

Of course she couldn’t source dust on anything like the quantities she needed so instead she used calcium carbonate from Longcliffe Quarry.

The dust also featured as a hearth rug in her creation for the Wirksworth Festival last year – 41Greenhill.

For this year’s festival,  the 30-year-old is returning to Greenhill for inspiration and will be using linesman’s chalk to paint shadows and light on to the road.

As you walk up the road you will be able to experience exactly what is was like at one point in time. Weather and light are highly atmospheric and constantly change.

Livvy’s intention is to both capture Greenhill at one of these moments, when the light has made a particular pattern, and celebrate its change. Net curtains will be used to reflect the character of the area.

Livvy graduated from the University of Derby in 2011, having previously spent two years at Falmouth College of Arts before travelling and having her two children Frank and Dora.

She currently has a studio in Sheffield as part of the Yorkshire Art Space Starter Studio Program and is working in the community of Parson Cross.

Her website is at http://www.oliviapunnett.com