Being Helpful (pts 1 & 2)

Year: 2005 - 2006

Where are you ann? (pt1)

In November 2005, I found 'Where are you ann?' written in black marker on a wall outside my local cinema in Bristol. It was quite small, barely covering 6 inches (15cm) and stood at about waist height. It was a simple question, perhaps written as a product of absent mindedness or with the mildest of frustration, the size of which muted any sign of real anger somehow. Who had written this? Who was looking for Ann? And, of course most importantly, where was she?

Given that it was unlikely that much, if any, notice would have been given to this question, I decided that there must be some way I could help. So, in a bid to muster attention to both Ann and the person that was seeking her's plight, I had an exact copy of the graffiti made into a tiny blue neon sign. That sign was then installed back at the location of the original graffiti.

Miss her (pt2)

A few months later in March 2006, I discovered the words 'Miss her' written on a Multi-storey car park stairwell wall. It too was written in black marker. Who was missing 'her', I thought, and who actually was 'her'? An uncomfortable conclusion transpired; was it perhaps that Ann was still missing? Was the person that had been looking for her now resigned to never finding her?

Seeing this as another opportunity to try and be helpful, the same process was applied and a new neon version of the text was made, exactly the same size as the original and it too was installed at the same location as the original graffiti. I have absolutely no idea if Ann was ever found. Nor if my actions were in anyway helpful.

Miss her is now on permanent display at the Ikon gallery in Birmingham, UK. Ikon also recently made a badge of Miss her and it is available for sale here

There is a somewhat romantic post script to this story which is reminiscent of the tragic end of Bas Jan Ader, a wonderful Dutch conceptual artist who set sail across the Atlantic never to be seen again. Shortly after completing these pieces, the exceptionally talented neon man (Matt) that made these works with impossibly small (6mm) tubing, sold up his business, bought a boat, and sailed off around the world. I never saw him again.