TOM OWEN ‘Void Surveyor’

7 – 30 April

We are very pleased to present Tom Owen’s third solo show with studio1.1: new work which places itself in the gap between found and willed; between lost and left behind…

Wall-based floor casts and woollen army blanket sculptures… Arte Povera meets the military in Swindon, plus maybe a painting.

Consider the job description of a council employed void surveyor. They’re responsible for the diagnosis of defects within a void property and have to draw up a list of all the repair work to be carried out. Most of the places you’d visit in this job are housing association, state owned derelicts that contain mostly broken masonry, dead cats, mould and/or excrement. Surveyors are also tasked with overseeing reparations and making sure the results are up to scratch. My neighbour did this job for our local council. I later found out that he also used to undergo past life regression therapy on a weekly basis. He’d ask himself ‘have I had earlier lives?’ ‘What influence do they have on my life today?’ ‘What is my task in this life?’

Void inspection and past life regression is an interesting pairing because both are about reincarnation, one social, the other spiritual, and both also share a tragic aspect. The tragedy in void inspection is that the human traces that remain in voided properties are of no relevance when refactoring the place for habitation, and so are doomed. Looking inward to try and discover what influence your actions in a past life might mean for your current circumstances is like searching a formerly void flat for the forgotten trinkets of the person that lived there before. It’s courageous and tragic.

The objects in this show remind me of these doomed traces – but given momentary visibility. The small stitch-up jobs in the military blankets and imprints of someone’s floor are intensely human. But they seem like they’re clinging to the edge of meaningful existence”.

Bradley Grievson 2017

studio shots below