Cotton, scent, 2014.
Schmitz’s piece ‘Untitled (1994-2014)’ offers the viewer an autobiography through scent. Panels of cotton fabric brush against viewers as they make their way through the space releasing scents of past and present selves, grandmothers, mothers, friends. Schmitz plays on the sensorial ability of scent to transport us instantaneously to another time and place, reliving and reminiscing about the pains and joys of growing up, the family and friends now gone and the places never traveled. Viewers fumble through the scented veils bumping into and sweeping by each other.
newpaper, flour, paint, 2014
In response to the surroundings of the Kasbah in Marrakech, Egle Jauncems and Schmitz work together to echo the rhythms of daily life in the Medina through their piece, Khobz.
The artists use daily newspapers to make their own versions of the Moroccan bread. Khobz is seen on nearly every street corner, whether in a shop, a cart on the pavement or carried by a child on a tray back from the communal bakeries. The installation provides a space for viewers to consider the relationship of this everyday object, which transverses both private a public spaces, with the walled city they are travelling in.
Using colour to reference the buildings’ exteriors, the artists create a dialogue between the walls of the city and the crusts of bread: a form of nutrition, a surrogate to the body, a marker of natural cycles and days, a tool, a treasured object.
This grass house is built using method inspired by traditional Native American techniques using typically British materials including wheat longstraw, hazel and willow with hand-dyed jute and leather joints. Inside hangs over 200 hand-cast and glazed earthenware tiles depicting ancestors and narratives of my family. Inside the piece visitors were invited to dance with each other.
I have always been obsessed with these handmade structures. Since I was about 12 years old I’ve had two books that were remnants of my parents’ involvement in the back to the land movement of the 1970’s. These were Handmade Houses: A Guide to the Woodbutcher's Art and The American Indian Craft Book. These books have been hugely influential on all of my work as well as the ethos of my life. For this piece I wanted to create a space for this encounter, another world separate from the surrounding city of London. I wanted to create a space that was evocative of other places and transported the viewer as they stepped through the door. I wanted also to set myself a challenge to see if I could do it: building this structure, learning as a went, to test myself physically, to compare myself to the feat of my father and uncle in my own way. They cleared several acres of woods in north Idaho only using a two-man bucksaw, then built a log cabin only using hand tools, digging out the basement by hand and peeling all the logs they felled using a broad axe. It my own small way I wanted to relive some of this personal mythology, to play a certain role of self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Perhaps because of the year’s events, I wanted to channel some of this strength and solitude.
My first challenge with this piece was gathering materials. I had to go far and wide to get thatching straw, gather sticks and timber from the woods, leather, twine, axes, sledge hammers to construct it. I have learned a lot of new skills such as sharpening the ends of posts with an axe, splitting logs using a splitting wedge and wooden shims, weaving hazel, ceramic slip casting and glazing, making my own sewing patterns, sewing dresses, trousers and shirts, meeting with thatchers to learn how to sort the straw and tie it into stooks, learning about old record players and many other things.
(300 x300 x 300 cm) Performance with wood, mud, horsehair, cotton, velvet, metronomes, 2013
In this collaborative piece with textile artist Egle Jauncems, we tried to use narrative in a somatic way to create a performance within an installation. The installation’s purpose was to alter the way viewers moved around the space; weaving themselves between the ropes of hair and wool which echoed the way the piece was made. The mud frame dissected the space; hampering the viewers’ entry and providing a place to brush against feeling the textures of the piece. The performance centred on a fragmented text whispered and sung between the performers. This further abstracted a story to allow viewers the freedoms of their own mythologies.
In her small-scale sculptural pieces, Schmitz explores rudimentary ways of defence. The 50 ‘snares’ are made from wax, leather, latex, sharpened sticks, bandages, rope, hair and teeth. Scavenged objects are battered and carved into submission to be formed into weapons, traps and monuments. These in turn are used to impale and be impaled by fragmented injured bodies. Made over three months many of the pieces forming these broken and oozing objects are cast from Schmitz’s body. She then pushes, bends and repairs them to form this dispersed and disjointed collection of corporeal wreckage. The installation encourages viewers to alter the way they move through the space and consider carefully where they step.
Performance with hand throw ceramic jugs, smoke and 5 gallons of honey, 2013
In ‘the Honeytrap’ I used ceremony to consider the boundaries of allegory, sensual experience and absent narratives. Dressed as a Beekeeper, I ritually cleansed the air of the garden with a bee smoker filled with incense, and then poured 5 gallons of honey in 12 hand-thrown pitchers over a member of the audience. Viewers were invited to watch the honey drip slowly down over his body and pool onto the ground, evoking pagan rituals of liquid sacrifice and visual pleasure whilst eliciting viewer’s own associations and questioning the focus of their gaze.