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One to Twenty

By  Claire Barber 2012
In the installation "One to Twenty", myself and Steve Swindells combine the two dimensions of a fireman’s glove pattern with the four dimensionalities of a bouncy castle. We were interested in how the craft of glove making, which in Somerset is predominately associated with fine ladies’ gloves, had been applied to the production of the practical, durable fireman’s glove. We enjoyed the optimism and resourcefulness involved in relocating traditional craft skills, to produce a sustainable business in fireman's glove manufacturing at Southcombe Brothers. Through visiting the company, we saw that they had not relinquished traditional equipment, like cutting forms, sewing machine, and glove irons, but kept using and mending them, making new parts rather than replacing them, because they are tough, work well and endure. When the audience negotiates the different boundaries of the work by moving around or over it, they tread within the template of the Southcombe glove that has been used for over 160 years. The title is a reference to the scale of the piece, which, has enlarged the precise glove pattern components to 20 times their original size, producing something that avoids both a literalisation of the glove making industry in Yeovil and an illustration of the fireman’s glove, and which requires some kind of negotiation with the object itself, whether that is looking at and/or bouncing on it. As Sally O’Reilly has stated: “The visitor is invited to clamber, jump and slither on the vinyl structure, to explore the terrain made up of a pattern, in flattened, pre-sewn form, that shunts associations from the fireman that wears the glove towards the glover that makes them” (2012).

Steve Swindells

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