The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House

Simultaneously a wishing well, a cesspit, a grave and an auto-fictive device, The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House was an inverted representation of an image of St Alban’s Abbey found in one copy of the 13th century manuscript Vitae Offarum Duorum (The Lives of the Two Offas) rendered in daub and filled with soapy, effluent liquid. Written by monks interred at St. Alban’s Abbey, the Vitae Offarum Duorum is a biography of two kings, both called Offa, one of whom pledged to build a monastery and another who fulfilled his namesake’s pledge hundreds of years later. The text seeks to lionize the Offas and, as such, re-ascribes Offa II’s more controversial crimes to his wife – Queen Cynethryth. The manuscript details that Cynethryth was drowned in her own cesspit for her murderous crimes, whereas more trustworthy sources reveal that Cynethryth in fact outlived Offa and oversaw the burial of his body in a watery grave where his sceptre would be seen to mythically reappear over the centuries.

This cesspit was constructed from daub containing a mixture of materials (fuschia seeds, school uniform, soils) acquired from the artist’s hometown, a town that was founded by King Offa II in the eighth century. The Vitae's original illumination shows two monks writing down the histories of the Offas either side of the Abbey. These scribes have been replaced by two mobile-connected Canon printers that periodically printed recalibrated elements of Cynethryth biography off the side of sculpture and into the central mass of liquid. 182 aluminium dinars minted with Cynethryth’s portrait and several fuchsia petals were also scattered over and around the sculpture.

 

The sculpture sought to take the narrative elements of the Vitae Offarum Duorum, bogus or otherwise, and introduce materials, methodologies and motifs that can mutate and re-fictionalise this misogynist telling of the life of Cynethryth. 

The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House was commissioned for the exhibition Our House of Common Weeds at Res. Depford in 2017. The exhibition closed with a performance that saw players use the work as a tabletop game and compete for the most coins, acquired by attaining the median score in a roll of dice. Live printouts affected the state of play and the game's outcome helped determined Cynethryth's previously unknown year of birth.

 

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House

2017

Lime putty, King Offa Junior Academy school uniform, bovine, ovine and equine excrement, liquid soap, water, steel, hand-stamped aluminium coins, topsoil, mobile-connected Canon printers, paper, wig fibres, fuchsia flowers and petals, soap dispenser pump, ink, paint, periodic printouts

Photography by Tim Bowditch

 

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House (performance)

2017

Lime putty, King Offa Junior Academy school uniform, bovine, ovine and equine excrement, liquid soap, water, steel, hand-stamped aluminium coins, topsoil, mobile-connected Canon printers, paper, wig fibres, fuchsia flowers and petals, soap dispenser pump, ink, paint, periodic printouts, reading, singing, dice

Performers: Rebecca Bligh, Charlotte Groves, Grace Klejdys-Lord, Adrienne Lietdke, Jessa Mockridge, Alia Pathan

The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House (zine contributions)

2017

Zine contributions to Our House of Common Weeds zine and online uploads to https://www.commonweeds.xyz/

 

Commissioned as a part of Our House of Common Weeds, curated by Nathalie Boobis