‘Supernova of the Mind’ 2016


Above digital image of charcoal sketch for ‘Supernova of the Mind’ proposal idea, Raquel Macartney

This new work titled ‘Supernova of the Mind’ to be completed by 1st July 2016 as part of the close to my current artist residency programme, is a 2.2 x 2 x 2 metre steel mesh cage with a door for an entrance, and includes 8 low voltage LED light strips installed at the base of the cage’s interior and the ceiling of the cage’s interior.

It will be lined up with garments personally collected and clothes from people in the local community- from baby wear, maternity wear, men’s and women’s clothes. These clothes that will cover the entire inside of the cage- walls, floor and ceiling, will be pinned onto the mesh cage itself using 2600 glow in the dark pins from Brooklyn.

The tiny glow balls at the tail of the pins will be charged up when the cage is lit up from the LED low voltage light strips. The light itself, will be remote controlled powered by the viewer(s) that walk inside it to experience it.

Personally, this work is extremely significant to me because, it culminates a turning point where I have been a stay at home mum and working from home for the last seven years. This work is literally ‘being given birth to’ at such a time now and it is in essence a retrospective abstract of these recent years in motherhood because my youngest child dawns on going to full time reception school later on this year.

The work is referring to the ‘mind’ because in some circumstances, the way we think, the places we go, our memories, experiences and the everyday can somewhat be a ‘playful cage’. Many recent regular activities have taught me that it is how we can ‘choose to look at a situation that makes up whether we are going to be a victim of our environment or circumstances, or whether we can gain control and make our own choices’.

Ultimately becoming more free in mind, thought, attitudes, inclinations, motivations and intentions is the optimistic option and this can be drawn from the ways that the work opens itself up to open ended questions when the inside of the installation blacks out and you see are an overwhelming number of glow balls reminiscent of stars…

This work has multi layers of meaning. One obvious one for me personally is this connection to human life when a baby is carried in a mother’s womb for nine months and the unceasing changes of wardrobes one has to confront as we experience the ever changing chapters of life.

Another notion this work can lean towards is to do with death – the question of how a person is buried into a space or what can remain after someone has passed away materially or immaterially? Another much larger line of enquiry is to do with what happens beyond this life?

On a socio and political level, the ‘outrage of recent junior doctors going on strikes’, ‘the protests towards the SATs exams being too advanced for the year 2’s and 6’s in schools’ and ‘the cry to aid refugees more in order to help them survive’ (which are somewhat being turned a blind eye on by political powers) – are a few of the ongoing constraints and pressures our current society is facing today.

‘Supernova of the Mind’ seen at first as a cage, is interesting. The cage itself is a type of large commodity purchased from industrial material manufacturers – which typifies capitalism, consumption and consumerism.

The pins purchased from Brooklyn, United States underpins the idea of the western world trying to pin everything together, but nothing is ever permanent. We can look at this pinning at at the way we can temporarily attach ourselves to each other too in our fast paced technologically evolving social media generation, without consciously ever really grounding ourselves in ‘face to face relationships’ for some.

And yet ironically, the remote switch, being in the hands of the viewer can be a statement reflecting the ways in which power belongs to or should be returned to the individual ‘in collaboration with a healthy authority’. In order to control the power which in this case is being generated by the outside environment of the cage (electricity provided in the gallery), the viewer must turn or dim the lights on or off.

On a global and environmental level this artwork can act as a simple reminder too of reserving energy in our current climate of depleting natural resources and therefore, creating a larger awareness to the bigger forces beyond our own world which most of the time we may or not even be aware of!

‘Supernova’ in definition is ‘a star that suddenly increases greatly in brightness because of a catastrophic explosion that ejects most of its mass’. Conceptually, we can be like these supernovas so to speak with our minds having been charged by forces that typify a ‘catastrophic explosion… ejecting most of its mass.’


Post exhibition, I hope to tour this piece in sites such as local and national galleries, but also other types of institutions, that have some significance or personal experience to me. I also hope to host workshops through ‘Foundation Art Birmingham’ and ‘Fab Forest’, (my recently funded art ventures supported by Arts Connect West Midlands) that encourages the public, especially families with young children and the youth, to follow the trails of concepts in this particular art project, devising a programme that would underpin the intentions and objectives ‘Supernova of the Mind’ seeks to explore through dialogue and literature with aid from funding bodies. The impact grant funding would have on my career is that the art piece becomes fully realised and will be a tool benefiting my growing art practice which effectively, will help publicise my artist profile locally and nationwide.



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