Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe

An invitation to play with pipes in a container in Hull: how could I say no? Occupying the container today was Dom Heffer, a Hull artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally, recently working with the 20/21 Visual Arts Centre in Scunthorpe and the Institute of General Semantics in New York. 

pipes by dom hefferPart of a series of artist interventions co-ordinated by Hull School of Art and Design, each artist uses the #EXPOSURE containers as a base and focal point.

I remember seeing Dom’s pipe paintings at KAG, back then they reminded me of the illustrations of fantastical contraptions in Dr. Seuss. Today in glorious technicolour 3D they are even more inviting. They have a retro sci-fi feel to them, and wouldn’t look out of place on the set of Blake 7. I very much like them.

To begin I inspected images projected on the inside of the red pipe through a tiny window in the top. Some of the images I recognised immediately, Duchamp’s Urinal, the Pompidou Centre our own Rank Hovis building… I was rather taken by a cylindrical structure by Alexander Melamid from the Vohn Gallery.

We chatted about some of the artists Dom had been exploring of late. The artist statement reads,’ painted image is ‘reevaluated through other media, motifs are plucked from 2-D works and become large 3-D objects…. notions of infrastructure and culture

resetting after first strike

resetting after first strike

We proceeded to play sculpture skittles. A most enjoyable game employing a wheel in place of a bowling ball and an assortment of shapes that can be arranged in any number of ways to create the skittles. The only drawback is the setting up in between can take a little patience. It is not immediately obvious how to balance the pieces. What is fun is that every player will have their own ideas on how to set them up, resulting in multiple configurations.

Pulling one pipe from within another I am rewarded with a cascade of eyeballs. One of which is presented as a prize for participation: affixed to my jacket I proudly sport my winning eye for the rest of the day. It may become a permanent accessory.

We had pleasing results projecting different images on to the structures. I asked questions about pipes their position purpose and not being pipes at all. In the above image you can make out the famous painting by Magritte.  ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe.’ …. Ceci n’est pas un tableau either.

Art is the antennae of the race,’ Dom says and then proceeds to write it down on the conveniently placed chalk board. A quote by American poet Ezra Pound I begin pondering Pound whilst playing with pipes. I offer up the idea that, if art is an antenna, an antennas are indicative of height: that might suggest an elevated position. Artists and the pursuit of art being a way to get closer to God perhaps.

Surepipes Forgetting my divine conjecture I took the largest pipe outside and attempted to blow into it like a horn. I didn’t succeed but with the one half of the EXPOSURE containers, as backdrop, it sure makes for a curious picture.

It would be remiss of me not to mention Iota Arts and Steve Elliott who aided Dom in the construction of these pipe pieces.

Find out more about Dom Heffer’s practice and forthcoming exhibitions.


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