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“How do we process the death of a loved one?”


The genesis of this exhibition simply began with a generous invitation from Patrick & Naomi in 2023 for me to put together an exhibition for the Project 78 Gallery. My creative response to the invitation & to the space was pretty much immediate.

Material opposition. Light & dark. Left & right.


During the past 7 years of my research following a memorable cultural trip to Japan, I came across a Japanese domestic object, fabricated from wood and paper, called 行灯/Andon. The etymology of this word loosely translates to “paper-enclosed lantern”. Early versions of Andon contained candles and were highly-flammable. Examples of the Andon can be seen, for example, in the woodcuts of the Ukiyo-e era. Restored Andon appear in contemporary interiors in Japan and beyond, and are now collector’s items. For me, it is a beautiful, practical and evocative object. With the invitation outlined above, I decided to construct my own reproduction, albeit with a degree of customisation. In particular that my Andon would be much bigger than the classic Japanese Andon, and that it would radiate orange light.


In opposition to this proposed Andon, I decided to exhibit an enlarged studio photo work dating to 2021, featuring a single orange rubber glove with the palm cut out, and featuring adhesive lettering stuck onto my white-painted hand. I made this work at a time of personal emotional turbulence, following the untimely death of my sister. I flipped the original right-handed glove for this version to make a pair, in a nod to my dyslexia. I entitled this iteration of the work for the gallery ‘Fandom’.


As I developed the installation work in my studio, the notion dawned on me that the material opposition I was engaged in for this show had a strong resonance with the things that had happened in my own life. I had been bereaved for a second time in 2022, when my aged father died in a care home. It became clear in some senses that the Andon somehow represents my father with it’s traditional aspect, and that Fandom somehow represents me with it’s provocateur gesture, but that the configuration and intent of both are inextricably and profoundly connected.


Ben Browton

March 2024


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