Permindar’s latest work is to be exhibited in the Art & Design gallery on College Lane. With her studio located in the same building, Permindar has opportunities to test how artefacts work in the space before finalising her ideas. Unlike in any of her previous projects, she has been able to ponder the space and test how her installations may fit, then adjust the designs accordingly. A large part of the development of her exhibition has been dedicated to considering the space and how to make the most of its quirky features. The space has high ceilings, triple-height windows, slopes, nooks and crannies. Permindar has concluded that her work “could be divided into five little stories”, located in different parts of the gallery.
One of the most distinctive features of the gallery space is its height. This has presented Permindar with the opportunity to work vertically as well as horizontally. She notes that the mood provoked by her teddies is very different when they are located higher up. “I don’t want them on the lower level. I want them all high up”, she says. If we see a teddy on the floor, “he’s vulnerable, he’s cute”. However, “when they’re high up they’re out of your reach and they’re a bit more threatening… I want them to be slightly menacing”
This feeling is a consequence of size and scale as much as it is of height. Permindar observes that “from the gigantic to the miniature, your relationship to work changes… If you make something big you make the viewer a child, whereas if you make something small, the viewer becomes a giant”. The viewer becomes vulnerable beside big objects. By contrast, we are protective of the small object.
It is for reasons of scale that Permindar’s work demands real-life viewing. “My work’s all about scale… When you see a photograph of my work you can’t tell whether it’s small or big”. In photograph, it’s impact and meaning is lost. Similarly, it is difficult to get a complete sense of Permindar’s plans in her small studio. The size of the small studio, compared to the vast gallery space, presents challenges when planning or imagining how the work will eventually feel. She has spent much of the past week rigging her teddies close to the gallery window in order to get a sense of whether their size is appropriate for the space.
Filling a larger space is not always a matter of increasing the size of the object. There is, perhaps, a misconception among curators and gallery owners that a big space needs to be filled with a big object. Gallery owners often want an over-sized statement piece to make an impact, but in Permindar’s experience a small piece can be the most memorable. Impact is often created in a large, empty space surrounding a very small object, meaningfully dwarfed by its surroundings.
In her forthcoming exhibition, Permindar hopes to make it feel as though her teddies dominate the space, even though they do not fill it. She aims to achieve this through careful placement of her installations, high up so that they appear to be surveying every part of the gallery, and located at doors and windows so that viewers must pass them on entering the room.
Entrances and exits are one of the most important parts of the space for Permindar’s work. “I am interested in windows and doorways – boundaries from one space and another space… I want it to feel like the teddies could escape through the doors and windows,” she says. “Escaping” is a “very important” theme for the exhibition. She speaks about the teddies as if she does not have total control over them or their apparent purpose; as if they are sentient, independent creatures whose motives cannot be anticipated, even by their creator. She credits them “doing their own thing, existing in the space”. She would like to create the impression that her teddies might not be permanently contained within the gallery space, rather that they could, at any moment, escape out into the world.