Annie Johns the Book

Labyrinth
1985/86
Central St Martins
Claremont School, Nottingham
Watermans Arts Centre
Henley Festival

I was handed a bundle of letters I had written to my parents when I was eighteen and first at art school just before I went away for the summer. I divided them into seven piles and sat in the same place at different times of day over a period of seven days and read them again.
During the period of time I was reading the letters I recorded my surroundings: the view I could see from where I was sitting; the table itself; the change in light; the repetitive noise of the cicadas; the miraculous growth of a cactus from start to dying within the seven days; my children; time passing.
It seemed extremely important that the vehicle that carried the 'narrative' took the form of an interpretation of a labyrinth I had walked through a year previously just before entering St. Martin's. The labyrinth was made out of calico in the form of two scrolls, each scroll being one wall of the labyrinth. Each scroll unwound and wrapped round a series of struts at each point at which the labyrinth bent. The piece was constructed so that it was easily erected, rather like a tent, and is essentially a portable object. The piece is 'seen' in the dark (i.e. all the imagery is looked at with a torch as the whole labyrinth is roofed and wrapped in black to exclude all light. On the inner wall of the labyrinth are images translated from chosen references in the letters and on the outer painted elements of the environment out of which the memories of the outer wall came. Repetitive images of hands are used to pull these images through.