The Cuckoo

The Influence of Furniture on Love
Wysing Arts Centre

Left: Cuckoo Intelligence; Secret Research Deposits, 2014
Wood and Archival Inkjet Print, Pine Cones and concealed collection of early edition books authored by Maxwell Knight. 
Right: The Cuckoos Shell. Radome Panel - materials classified.

To celebrate the anniversary of Wysing Contemporary Arts in Cambridgeshire, I was asked to make a piece of work for the home in which I was formerly an artist in residence, in 1999. 

Having presented the work of Office of Experiments alongside Trevor Paglen in the Cambidge University CRASSH conference on Covert Cultures in 2011, I was introduced to the shadowy work of Maxwell Knight in a presentation by the author of H is for Hawk, Helen MacDonald. As a response, I created a secret library hidden inside a sculpture that looks like a cuckoo clock for the Wysing exhibition as Maxwell Knight, who became a naturalist for the BBC after his spy days, was obsessed by the cuckoo, and other species, from which he learned how to develop spycraft. He was also a character whose moral, political and sexual ambiguities made him an appropriate figure for the context of this exhibition.

The sculpture contains a series of slected original edition books of Maxwell Knight, and include: A Cuckoo called Goo, that focuses on Knights attempts to tame a cuckoo, and Fighting Birds, a book about foreign or invasive species in UK territories - focussing on the cuckoo also. Outside, part of a broken shell of a radome, first exhibited in Dark Places by Steve Rowell (see below) hangs on the wall of the new residency block. This piece of the radome is made from classified material and would be used to cover a satellite dish, creating the familiar white golf ball shape we can observe in the UK landscape. 

Cuckoo Intelligence
currently resides in the Wysing Collection.
The Influence of Furniture on Love with An Endless Supply, Ruth Beale, Juliette Blightman, Ben Brierley, Céline Condorelli, Jess Flood-Paddock, Luca Frei, Gil Leung, Seb Patane, Florian Roithmayr, Phil Root, Laure Prouvost, Cally Spooner, The Grantchester Pottery, Philomene Pirecki , Elizabeth Price, Mark Aerial Waller, Neal White and Lisa Wilkens.