Bitumen paint, pillow feathers, recycled wood table and chairs, plastic sheeting. Music 'Welcome to my world' written by Ray Winkler and John Hathcock and performed by Jim Reeves 1962. Installation at Brighton Centre for Contemporary Art, Brighton, UK, 2023.
Romper Room is an installation that explores Northern Ireland’s history of community enforced punishment beating and intimidation. A Romper Room was a place where terrorist organisations, in Northern Ireland, would take their victims to be punished or interrogated by beating and torture. Romper Room was also the name of a children’s TV show watched by the artist as a child, in the family home, in 1970s Northern Ireland.
In this installation a tarred and feathered dining table and chairs sit in the centre of the gallery. The walls and floor have been lined with protective sheeting. The dining table and chairs acknowledge the everyday space of a family meeting place, however their solid familiarity is betrayed by the tar and feather surface. During the troubles in Northern Ireland, tarring and feathering was instigated by terrorist groups as a means of community control through public torture and humiliation. The protective sheets, on the gallery walls and floor, displace the sculpture into a forensic scene – a space where violent acts are scrutinised. The background music by Jim Reeves is a further reference to the artists childhood home. The music attempts to soften the visual shock of the installation and provide duration to the experience. Together, the elements of the installation create a complex unheimlich experience.
The project has been made, and its production documented, with students from the University of Brighton BA(Hons) Photography Course. With thanks to, Kira Lahane, Ben Stezaker, Zosia Szymanowska. This project is supported by the University of Brighton Research and Knowledge Exchange fund.
Installation photographs : Reinis Lismanis