The Nail Houses are a series of paintings inspired by architectural holdouts that take as their starting point photographs circulated on the internet. Known colloquially as dingzihu, translated from Chinese as stubborn nails, because they, the people who live in them, refuse to be hammered down.
These Nail Houses are where people have resisted being moved out of their homes to make way for developers and encroaching gentrification. The bully tactics of corporations reduce the surrounding areas to rubble, ring fence and isolate homes from power and access and in so doing enact an unexpected transformation. These homes under siege become moated castles, hilltop citadels, skyscrapers and monuments to the people who resisted erasure.The photographs, translated through drawings in search of their common ground and uniqueness of spirit in turn become reference points for paintings in which the buildings take on their own personalities and forms. In the process of translation, from three dimensions to two, they become objects devoid of scale and location, they are of no place and every place and that’s the point; we are all subject to the same erasures under high capitalism. Situated between presence and absence these small recognisable things might be picked up in the hand or tower overhead. As paintings they are stubborn nails, manifest archival resistances to future erasures on digital platforms or city streets.
Using a paired down pallet of just; black, white and cadmium yellow I am trying to find a line where the forms can sit unanchored, as towering blocks looming overhead or tiny familiar items that might be picked up in the hand, surrounded by the potential of found green, nothing is clear cut on contested land.
Nail House Smalls