Copywriting : Anna Church – ‘Insignia’
Our dear, gorgeous (and super-talented) friend Anna Church moved to Toronto about a year ago and has been beavering away ever since on a new series of work. When back on the island for a visit a couple of months ago, Anna asked us to write some text to accompany the series as a whole and each work individually. The series, titled ‘Insignia‘, is absolutely brilliant – it’s such a natural extension of her previous work, yet it truly takes it to a whole other level. It’s not due for release until November, so what you see here is just a sneak preview of one of the pieces. You can follow Anna on facebook, pinterest and her blog if you’d like to keep posted on her work. Here’s what we wrote;
What are little boys made of? As well as slugs and snails? Adventures sailing toy boats down creeks, days spent skippin’ and hollerin’ like the Apache and hours of ping pong with the rain hammering down outside. If boyhood could be captured in two dimensions and hung on a wall, then artist Anna Church has nailed it … and done the same for girlhood, and what it means to be a gentleman, a gentlewoman, or a couple navigating life together.
Church has an unparalleled ability to depict the essence of an occasion, a way of life or a state of being, purely through the collection and artful arrangement of objects and ephemera. In her last series of work, ‘At Your Service’, her subjects ranged from ‘High Tea’ to ‘Sunday Roast’. Each composition was made up of a number of pieces of vintage tableware and when viewed from a distance resembled a medal, thus cleverly exploring the multiple notions of service.
In ‘Insignia’, her most recent series, Church again manages to source the perfect pieces and, by arranging them to illustrate her theme, elevate them to something extraordinary. Insignia are emblems, symbols, flags and coats of arms – those badges we create to identify ourselves, either as individuals or groups. Church has created a series of Insignia symbolising boys (titled ‘Frogs & Snails’), girls (‘Sugar & Spice’), gentlemen (‘Gentleman’), gentlewomen (‘Gentlewoman’), and couples (‘Union’).
While her work unabashedly romanticizes these states of being, it is both nostalgic and current. Rather than wanting to neatly ‘box’ people, Church hopes those who see her work will “recognise in each ensign elements of their own histories and realities” and that, for example, ‘Sugar and Spice’ will have as much resonance for the mother of young girls (who was once a ballet-loving ingenue herself), as for her little girls themselves.
Just as a coat of arms is made up of a number of elements each representing some aspect of the bearer, Church’s insignia are collections of symbols. The trophy in ‘Gentleman’ represents the drive of man to achieve and central to the work is a vintage boxing bag representing strength, agility and strategy. The pearls adorning ‘Gentlewoman’ were traditionally given to a woman by her fiancé upon their engagement or the birth of their first child. The foliage adorning ‘Union’ is a metaphor for the growth and evolution of two people together over time. Each and every element of these compositions has been painstakingly considered and subsequently sourced. Church describes this process as being “like having a pair of divining rods – I just had a clear idea of what I needed to find and a sixth sense kicked in and helped me discover it all”
In 2012 Church moved to Toronto, Canada from Waiheke Island, New Zealand and she describes the finding of the numerous pieces needed to create this series as “an absolutely magical way to familiarise myself with my new home”. As well as the internet (eBay and etsy), Church scoured her local flea markets (The Junction Flea and St. Lawrence antique Market) and became a regular fossicker at antique markets around Ontario such as Christie’s Antique Market, in order to find the perfect set of Stag playing cards for ‘Gentleman’, a woman’s clutch which could have come straight from The Great Gatsby for ‘Gentlewoman’, a sheriff’s badge in just the right shade of red for ‘Frogs & Snails’ and well-pirouetted (but not too grubby) ballet shoes for ‘Sugar & Spice’. Videographer Vuk Dragojevic followed Church on her hunt and has documented the process in a charming video which can be viewed on Church’s website (coming soon!).
Church would also love to create bespoke insignia for individuals and their families, thereby taking all those precious (and not so precious, but highly sentimental) pieces out from storage boxes in the basement and attics and making something truly unique, representative and heirloom-worthy of them.
For more information please feel free to contact Anna directly via email firstname.lastname@example.org