I am cleaning brass, like my mother and my grandmother used to. There is a seat next to me. Sit down and clean with me. Clean like your mother and your grandmother.
Understand that we are performing a gesture that is antique. You are bringing ghosts to life, you are producing the past.
My grandmother went into service after her father was killed at work. He was crushed whilst working on the Honister Pass road.
My grandmother became the housekeeper to a farmer, later marrying him. She would never talk about her early life to anyone. She cleaned and maintained that house for status. That transaction was a transformation.
My mother ran an antique shop. Plates would have cracks bleached out. Woodworm holes in table legs would be filled with wax. Brass would be polished, or not polished, depending on any damage to be hidden. She cleaned and maintained those things for money.
I clean these things to perform gestures. I am making marks and erasing them. I can perform the same actions as my grandmother and my mother. The ebb and flow of repeated gestures between generations, the push and pull of economic realities.
I make marks, and others do the same, and those gestures perform in a canon. If you use gesture to conjure spectres, then you had better be glad of the company.
‘She herself is a haunted house. She does not possess herself; her ancestors sometimes come and peer out of the windows of her eyes and that is very frightening.’ Angela Carter, ‘The lady of the house of love’
Vicky McKay “I’m an interdisciplinary artist and an unreliable narrator. I’m interested in hauntings and work with what I remember and what I can see. I tell stories with painting, drawing, writing, and recording. I’m especially interested in mediation and meaning, and what gets erased while we’re working.”
Part of The ICE’s programme of exhibitions and events for FaB 19.