Kitchen Antics and Appliances (KAA) 2006-2007
Barbara Dean, Hilary Kneale and Ann Rapstoff
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture. London
Arts Depot. London
Art Shop and Gallery. Abergavenny

Kitchen Antics & Appliances invite you to become participants as they dish up their own curious brand of housekeeping and attempt to unpick the meaning of life. Kitchen Antics & Appliances will be looking at the domestic environment through a series of public interventions, performances and gallery based mixed media pieces. Feast your eyes on a collection of thoughts, happenings, questions, menus and objects.

‘Spread’ The work created reflects through humour the ‘rear’ or ‘underbelly’ of domestic objects and environments. Through public exploration with audiences, the artist group KAA, construct a ritualised performance within the setting of a ‘tea party’. In the current climate where ‘home’ is constantly shifting across borders and cultures the artists will continue to examine and stimulate debate concerning the cultural, political and social nuances that arise around ideas of ‘home’. The audience or viewer will be invited to join the table and become participants within the platform of ‘table as stage’. Through this and a menu of questions, instructions or actions that will have a particular focus on private and public notions of ‘home’ and the ‘domestic’, the audience will become a part of the work.

Instructions for Living Labelling for life
The artists have been investigating questions and instructions that surround us in the home and have come up with their own brand of labelling and instructions for life. If you would like to be labelled, have a fear of labelling or would like to change your label or if you are nearing your sell by date, or have lost the instructions, this may be the event for you.

Tea, Sympathy and Conversations
KAA invite you to a live installation in which The Mad Hatter finally meets Mrs Haversham in this quirky setting. The tea table wends its way through the rooms of the gallery and is set with delicate and discordant china, the artists offer you tea, sympathy and stories.

Blood and Guts…… French Knitted Entrails
The artists knit a twist on knitting for the souls of the guillotine as they knit the entrails of life and spill them over the floor. In silence they prayerfully knit in and out of time, they knit in friendship, knit to welcome, knit to help and acknowledge, knit to thank, knit in grief and celebration, knit to still the mind. As they knit they tell stories both familiar and unsettling.

A Menu of Conversations
Come and take part in a menu of conversations with friends or strangers, about ideas and notions of home around our tea table. Murmur in the entrée, converse in the main course, savour the pudding and digest with the coffee or tea.

The Ceremony of Rosie Lee

Dressed in red velvet, Rosie Lee prepares for ceremony. She places twelve black pebbles from her homeland in a ring on the floorboards and begins to prepare her implements in the centre of the circle. She hangs her eight day clock around her neck on a long velvet ribbon, it ticks a beat along with her heart. Her implements are placed on the small surfaces of decorative tables of varying heights, tables and stools that once gave support to aspidistra or took the weight of tired feet. She creates a ceremonial surface on the top tray of her wood formica tea trolley, dusting all thoughts away with a tiny white feather duster, whispering a new moment with each movement. She drips hot sealing wax on to small squares of hand made paper, these placed, blood coloured, on the stones to mark the phases of the moon, or time passing, she aligns herself to the continuum. Rosie Lee takes her time, she puts on a pair of white cotton gloves, opens a tortoise shell box, lifts out and unwraps her ceremonial stone from its red silk cloth. She polishes the stone carefully before placing it on the square of silk on one of the tall thin tables. Curiosity killed the cat but it now draws a man towards the circle of stones, Rosie Lee invites him into her circle to share a ceremony of tea in honour of someone that he has in mind, someone close to his heart. Now she stirs the dry tea leaves scented with rose petals with a small wooden hand and offers to him to appreciate the aroma. After scooping some leaves and petals into the pot she adds hot water and leaves the mixture standing to infuse. She and he contemplate the goings on and the silence.

Three small white porcelain tea-bowls await on the top of the tea trolley, they sit on a tortoise shell tray that was once her grandmothers. Rosie Lee sounds the bowls with an outsize safety pin, they ring their different tones to its command. He chooses a tone that sings to the tune of his heart he takes the small uneven bowl in his hands, it has a word embossed into its delicate surface, ‘missing’ it says quietly to itself. Rosie Lee pours tea for him, he takes time as the roses and tea do their work and he drinks with the someone in his mind who is close to his heart. They sit together in the circle, he and Rosie Lee. He thanks her and takes his leave. Rosie Lee takes the emptied bowl and washes it once more before replacing it on the tortoise shell tray. She completes the washings and then begins her preparation in readiness once more.

A Body of Knitting 2005

As she looked over her shoulder towards the clock on the wall, hands moving silently, the clack, clack, click, click stopped, she had not as yet accomplished the art of knitting while she faced away from the needles, although her thoughts, could wander the world in unison with the click and slide of the pins once underway. Now she re-adjusted her pose to find comfort in the realignment of her bones. When she was sitting fully in line with the second floorboard from the wall, all seemed well. As her vision widened, she noticed the trough of sediment that had accumulated in the gap between the second and third floorboards it was filled with the dust of days and weeks and years, dog hair, skin cells and size 8 knitting needles. She was curious about the stories lingering out of her reach amongst the detritus, and imagined them as full as any minutiae at a murder scene, readable in the trough only by spiders. These mutinous thoughts tugged at her mind. Breathing out, she focused once again on her needles and the ball of softest flesh coloured cashmere which was unravelling itself a little more between her thighs almost as though it were ribbons of her own skin she were knitting.

The clack, clack, click, click resumed its hypnotic murmur accompanied by her low unconscious muttering ……….. pull loop onto left needle, draw onto right needle, slip stitch off… the words flew out of her mouth like flies searching for the gap at the top of a window. Slowly the hours and turns of wool were taking shape, she had long since given up using a pattern or knowing in advance what would knit itself through her repetition. She relaxed deeper into her knitting and sighed as the needles and the flesh coloured cashmere took their turns.

No longer did she find herself knitting shawls for sick babies, as prayers to help them recover; she saw that her garments were becoming messages of celebration or and sometimes protection for the lost, the broken, the sick or the dying. These were stories of lives transmogrified through her needles with all their accompanying treasures, tattoos and scars of daily tempest, story telling of lives, through a body of knitting.

As she worked she was slowly becoming clearer about what was unravelling from her own doing, experience was showing her that her very being was aware when a death was approaching; her knitted garments were becoming shrouds of knitted skin, she was surprised to discover that her last garment had seemed to herald the death of her neighbour, for as she reached the last knitted hair of soft grey cashmere, his life had ended quite peacefully, in his sleep. She now felt she had no control, and that each time the needles took up their task, they clicked and they clacked as the red shoes had danced. As she knitted in the evening light, she looked in surprise and then in horror as a likeness of her sister’s foot was forming in the rows emitting from her needles. The click and the clack of her needles was tolling again.

Supported by

Arts Council England