Abbie Cairns 

My practice is heavily involved in the use of language and linguistics, I rely on the notion of a shared public language which can be accessed and interpreted in an infinite amount of ways by the reader. Art allows us to elevate the everyday, making people consider these things, such as language in new ways.

I have been using automatic techniques for many years and find it a great way to kick start my creative process. The words that emerge are often nonsensical – something that I find refreshing in a world that depends on us being sensible. However, everyday themes tend appear too – bring the work back to reality and making it relatable to an audience.

The intention of my practice is to engage the audience and creating a dialectical relationship between the art and the audience.


'Page Forty Three'


This project came about out of a studio experiment in which I set myself some arbitrary rules to follow. Linguistics continues to play a part within my practice and in my studio, I keep a stash of old books (because as a text artist it is good to be surrounded by text). I knew I wanted to do something with the books and with the notion of editing and changing the meaning of language. I was keen to break some linguistic rules and bring humour into the work.

The process started simply - I picked the first book I came to out if the box, opened the book and took the page out. At this point there was not process involved in picking the page number (as the title of this project suggests the page number of this randomly picked page was page 43). I then edited each sentence with a black marker pen. Censoring all but one of the words on each line. Leaving only the 1st, 2nd 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th word respectively as I moved down the lines, allowing me to start to break up the language and push it to its limits. This number system added some structure to something otherwise random. It also set as a starting point, to create a system which could be reused and easily followed in subsequent pages used.

The decision to record the words came from wanting to create something that engaged more than one sense. It also felt relevant due to the tradition of reading stories aloud allowing for more than one person to be reached at a time. The work becomes a Dadaist story time. The performance of the words is intentionally as smooth as possible, to give the initial impression that they are logical and follow linguistics rules and expectations. However, in reality the recording process become difficult as I tripped over the delivery of speaking words in a sequence that held little sense.