Travelling Companions is an exhibition by artists Judy Goldhill and Fay Ballard, curated by Ro Spankie held at ARB; Art at the Alison Richard Building, University of Cambridge. 2 March to 10 April 2020
This exhibition has been conceived by curator and academic, Ro Spankie, in collaboration with two artists: Fay Ballard and Judy Goldhill. Fay makes drawings, and Judy photographs, films and creates artists’ books. Both artists have been investigating memory, home, spirit of place, and the role of evocative objects in people’s lives.
In her book ‘Evocative Objects, Things we think with’, Professor Sherry Turkle, a psychologist at MIT, suggests that objects act as emotional and intellectual companions that anchor memory, sustain relationships, and provoke new ideas. She writes: ‘We find it familiar to consider objects as useful or aesthetic, as necessities or vain indulgences. We are on less familiar ground when we consider objects as companions to our emotional lives or as provocations to thought.’
The exhibition explores these ideas contrasting the work of the two artists. Fay’s mother died on a family holiday in Spain, when she was seven years old. The work exhibited is a series of pencil drawings of objects belonging to her family that she found when clearing her father’s house 40 years later. Each object told a story and brought memories of her childhood flooding back.
In contrast, Judy photographs the night sky, together with the massive observatories and telescopes that allow us to look beyond this world. The skies offer sites of wonder – and a sense of far away, but also a familiarity of home. Traditionally constellations of stars have acted as navigational tools, guiding travellers and giving direction, acting as a different sort of travelling companion to Fay’s domestic objects.
From a souvenir fan charged with significance, to a star guiding you across the globe, the exhibition contrasts two scales, the personal and the collective, exploring how familiar objects act as travelling companions, both in the present and as remembered (internalised) objects, their function and the stories they tell changing over the course of a life time.