'Most of my work is a line between culture and the world'. Hannah Collins.
Hannah Collins, at the Baltic, Gateshead.
Collins first became known for the giant, unframed black and white prints on canvas made in her Hackney studio in the 1980s and these were the subject of the exhibition at the Baltic. Collins is interested in revealing the history of urban space, exploring notions of loss, time and transformation.
'The most important thing for me is that my work develops deep links with the environment in which it is made'.
She is interested in survival and documenting places created by those who have been displaced. She is attracted to marginal places occupied by those who exist on the borders of society.
'I'm always trying to measure the work in relation to the viewer and make the viewer work in looking at it. So the title is important and it gives you a way in, but it is not entirely revealing. It gives you certain elements of the work'.
Thin Protective Coverings, 1986.
In her Hackney studio she created what appears to be an empty stage set, backed with draped plastic and lined with flattened cardboard boxes. The image appears to continue the floor and wall of any space in which it is hung. The image evokes the makeshift environment of the homeless and the displaced - transitory and disposable, cardboard is the mainstay of surviving life on the streets.
The reference to 'coverings' also suggests skin, our own thin protective covering.
A set of speakers stacked and arranged to resemble a family group.
Signs of Life, Gypsies, 1992
A detailed image of the old city walls of Istanbul where migrants appear to sleep amongst the ruins of previous cultures.
The Road to Mvezo. Reading - Umtata, Mandela's Teenage Home, National Monument 2007-08.
Collins visited Mandela's birthplace in Mvezo and was taken to a hut that was Nelson Mandela's home as a teenager. 'There was something about the nature of the hut. First of all, it was like a history painting... I was thinking how do you recount history, and what is the impact of a place or action? The image is a wall with books on the shelves. The books look as though someone put them there recently. There is a pair of recently left underpants. There are things in the image that have nothing to do with what it says it is, but it is that thing. This picture is about the recounting of things'.