Over the past year, visual artist Lizzie Ridout has searched the British Library collections for domestic objects from the past, seeking out unusual references to both the mundane and the bizarre. By teasing out what is compelling about these historic sources and retranslating them into entirely new artworks, Lizzie has coaxed the past out into the present day. Take a look at Lizzie's online scrapbook of research and ideas, Art Sparklets . Lizzie's Fellowship culminated with the launch of Homeward Bound or An Exercise in Collected Beginnings, a work comprised of two elements: an artist's book and a set of limited edition prints. The book is currently available purchase at the British Library as well as from the online shop .
Lizzie studied Graphic Design and later Communication Art and Design at the Royal College of Art. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and worked on various individual and collaborative projects.
Pages from Lizzie's sketchbook
At the British Library
Working at the British Library was largely about the information I discovered within books, documents and sound archives, but it was also about the people I met on the way and their suggestions for avenues of research. Because of the eclectic way in which I work, I often found that the images, accounts and anecdotes discovered unintentionally were more interesting than those that I was originally searching for. Being open to a less methodical approach to research and accepting that often it is necessary to deviate from your original path and enter new areas is the most exciting and also the most nerve-wracking part. I'm never sure which source will inspire the next great idea and so tend to pore over everything without prejudice, until connections slowly become clear.
Detail from patent for reversed heel shoes
During the past year I have searched for references to strange and intriguing domestic objects and the lives that they are inextricably linked to, as a way to inspire completely new artworks. These artworks have attempted to capture all that is compelling about the original objects but have translated it into an entirely new form. What has emerge is a completely new collection, with references to things real and imaginary: a collection that exists all at once in the past and the present.
The year has been exhilarating, challenging and sometimes fraught, but most importantly it has provided me with huge scope beyond the duration of the Fellowship itself - and this is what inspires me most of all.
Everyday objects and rituals - both those that surround us now and those from the past - often inspire my work. My outcomes are diverse: I've made books that encourage nosiness and rifling, doormats that disintegrate when you walk over them, texts that dis-colour and rust, or collect dust over time. Old knitted jumpers and drawer linings, cutlery and wall-mounted ceramic flying ducks have all appeared in my work in new forms.
'A. Newsom', recycled knitted text
Domestic objects from the past can be transformed from ordinary to extraordinary through time. Objects which were once a part of everyday life but which now no longer serve a purpose are interesting, precisely because they are so far distanced from the lives we lead today. They offer us new ways of looking at the world that we live in now.