I Need Some Advice...

Me and Liz Hainsworth were asked by the British Library to come up with a piece of work in reaction to the library and it’s collections. Although the library is one of the greatest banks of knowledge on the planet we felt like we should focus instead on the people that use it rather than what’s kept there.

The library is this very formal store of knowledge, the outside world where the visitors spend most of their time, a very chaotic one. The place where those two masses come together is in the minds of those visitors. It’s in their filtration and interpretation that the two sets of information become wisdom.

The other thing that struck us about the library was that it’s a fundamentally democratic place used equally by the academics, the entrepreneurs, the homeless and all sorts.

We set up our stall in the library for a week convinced that everyone, no matter his or her background, had something to offer us. We asked them to sit with us for a while and offer us some advice.

What followed were chats that made us laugh and broke our hearts in equal measure and we finished the week completely overwhelmed by the openness with which people had shared their life’s lessons, often learnt the hard way.

The seed of this project was the term Fundamental Accuracy of Statement which Ezra Pound described as the sole morality of writing. It’s about efficiency with language and crafting words until they communicate an absolute truth, unequivocal and easily understood.

We finished our chats by trying to boil down what had come up into a single knot of words that seemed to carry the heart of what we had discussed. The quilt we made shows 81 of them, just like the library it’s a store of information but more than that it’s our attempt at a store of wisdom.

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