Nobody gave it you on a plate, 2024
Pulped paper and birthday cards, wood, carpenter pencils, ribbon
National Gallery, London

As part of the National Galleries Birthday Weekend, visitors were invited to create and add a drawing or message to celebrate the 200th anniversary. The sculpture was made from recycled birthday cards, paper waste and books of the galleries painting collection. Colours embedded in this sculpture connect directly to specific artworks on display in the gallery and fragments of these works could be spotted in the pulped panels. As could messages and handmade cards from loved ones, friends and family. In turn, the materials of this sculpture are formed from a collaborative archive and a collective effort. The 200 carpenter pencil ‘candles’ that top the cake structure are both a nod to the galleries 200th birthday and the hidden carpentry that holds up the sculpture from the inside. Those visiting the gallery over the Birthday Weekend were invited to create their own birthday card and add it to the sculpture; drawings, messages in many different languages and many birthday stories were shared. Following a cyclical process of resourceful making, the contributed cards will be repulped after the exhibition and turned into an archived book of the happening and reused again in future sculptures. 

Installation view in Room 36 at the National Gallery, 2024

3 x 2.5 x 2.5 m
Pulped paper and birthday cards, wood, carpenter pencils, ribbon