Sadly in some places there is a perception that ‘no one waves anymore’ . Although of course this is not strictly true, Gill is aware of a decline in the proportion of folk who wave when passing each other on single track roads. She became fascinated by the range of acknowledgements drivers would show; a twitch of an index finger lifted from the steering wheel, a cool, unhurried display of someone’s palm lingering as they continued on their way, an energetic wave expressing more enthusiasm than seemed fitting, the subtle but unmistakable twitchy gesture of a nervous driver, or of course, the complete lack of any acknowledgement altogether.
The frustration of being ignored by some passing drivers led her to imagine what it would be like if passing place signs were printed with the text ‘WAVE AND SMILE’. She began to wonder about the influence that small interactions like these have on how people experience a place and how people feel in a community. It’s a cliché for sure but there’s something in this about the journey not just the destination.
Her work is a series of intriguing retro-reflective images printed on aluminium sheets, using the same process as making a road sign. Each image is part of a short print run, never more than 5, ensuring the uniqueness of the pieces.
Her images question the essence of what creates our perception of a place. Her thoughts resonate with contemporary thinking about slow adventure and sustainable tourism. Gill sees each work as a piece of social action that will go on a journey of its own, hopefully inspiring future viewers to continue to discuss and explore how places are experienced and the impact of this on the communities in them.
About the artist: Gill Houlsby is a Scottish artist and Art Therapist who also works in the outdoors. She is particularly interested in how modern approaches to travel and tourism influence how places are perceived and the impact of this.
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