31 Aug

Relinquish Control Of Your Offerings

Container Art- Forgotten Knowledge-2

Having my work on display at the PNE for the last few weeks has been an interesting experience with having art in a public space. There was so much destruction to my show after opening weekend of the PNE that I was ready to pack things in and take it down. Thousands of people went through the container and a large number of those were handling my work carelessly and breaking things. I had to remove three of the books after that first weekend because the objects were gone, and I had to do repairs to many others with partial damage. I was flabbergasted that people would be so disrespectful and careless.

It’s disheartening to watch so much of my hard work of the last few months get wiped out in a shorter time than it took me to make it all. At this point I’ve resigned myself to only being able to salvage some of this work for future use. It’s become a “sacrificial” art work for the sake of sharing my work with a larger audience of people.

On that note, Free Will Astrology had a very appropriate horoscope for me today:

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The Clash was a leftwing punk band that launched its career in 1976. With its dissident lyrics and experimental music, it aspired to make an impact on political attitudes. But then one of its songs, “Rock the Casbah,” got so popular that college fraternity parties were playing it as feel-good dance music. That peeved the Clash’s lead singer Joe Strummer, born under the sign of Leo. He didn’t want his revolutionary anthems to be used as vulgar entertainment by bourgeois kids. I sympathize with his purity, but I don’t advocate that approach for you. For now, relinquish control of your offerings. Let people use them the way they want to.


  1. I am sorry to read this. The one big reason I was going to go to the PNE this year was to see the container art. This must be a huge exercise in restraint and “letting go” for you. I still plan to go see whatever is left this week. I wonder what the solution is to avoid this — next time, everything in plexiglass boxes? Doesn’t sound good, does it.

  2. It has been an exercise in letting go, and an eye-opening learning experience for next time. I do want to do something with public art again but I will do it differently.

    There is still lots left to see, and there have been more preventative measures taken by PNE staff to protect the work.

  3. That is rotten. It is frustrating that some people are so disrespectful and selfish to destroy a work of art offered freely for their enjoyment. Those books were amazing. I am glad I got to see them through your photographs.

  4. I’m really sorry to hear that your skilfully conceived and crafted artworks haven’t been given the respect they so richly deserve. Your offerings were the highlight of my visit on opening day, especially the book into which you had inserted the mushroom — the visual interplay of its gills with the leaves of the book is stunning.
    On the other hand, it’s heartening to know that you’ve chosen to let go of your offerings; that’s one of the surest paths to peace of soul and mind according to Buddhist thought.
    Well done!

  5. I did go to the PNE on the last day, Labour Day Monday, and was glad to see the container art was still up! It made my visit worthwhile (other than the mini donuts). Your books are beautiful, and they looked great. I know you did a lot of repair.

    Maybe I’ll get to visit your studio on the Culture Crawl this year. I hope you get your energy for your new project, the book tree, sounds interesting already.

  6. Hi Roberta, Dennis, and Jeckenzibbel,

    For every bit of damage to the work there’s been a good share of positive feedback as well. It’s an ephemeral work so even weather and changes of temperature had an effect on the books and it’s becoming an interesting part that I hadn’t anticipated.

    In the end it was a good experience, and I just learned I need to do things in a different was in venues like the PNE.

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© Rachael Ashe