UK Artist Presents Lecture on His Philosophy and Works

“Resurrection gives us a chance to view the old anew, to dissect and understand the past,” said Stuart Whipps, a Birmingham, UK-based artist, in a lecture organized by the Department of Architectural Engineering at Birzeit University on November 21.

The lecture detailed Whipps’ recent works and inspirations as well as his outlooks on the convergence of monuments, architecture, and archives. “Within my research, I’ve found a lot of people citing Sir Christopher Wren, the famed English architect, such as Andrew Thomas Peterson, who commissioned the building of a concrete folly because, as he said, Sir Wren encouraged him to. This has led me to research Sir Wren more closely, and to research the relationship between the old and the new.”

“That relationship,” said Whipps, “is even more pronounced when we look at the case of Birmingham Central Library. The library, which was closed in 2013, housed in its archives 487 boxes of paperwork of the late English architect John Madin, the library’s architect.”

“These boxes were the central work of my 2011 exhibition ‘Why Contribute to the Spread of Ugliness?’ In it, I focused on the boxes, their contents, and the respective buildings they allude to. The result was a study of the dynamics between the old boxes and the decrepit buildings,” Whipps further added.

Whipps also reviewed his foray into the impact of the globalized industry in his 2008 exhibition “Ming Jue,” which means “modern gentleman” in Chinese, referring to the move of the MG Rover company production to China. “I photographed the Longbridge plant, which manufactured MG Rover cars, and it was quite powerful as the machinery, tools, and car parts were all still there. Then I took a trip to the new production site in Nanjing, China, and photographed the factory and the workers.”

This also fits neatly with Whipps’ work on workers and their rights - specifically, the 1979 workers’ strike in the UK. “In the exhibition 'East International,’ I’ve put together the speeches and interviews of Margaret Thatcher, in the year 1979, and organized them into Major Words, Minor Words, Key Words, and Trivial Words. This, alongside my other works, presents an image not only of how ideologies operate, but how they are also shaped and developed.”