About Naomi Muirhead
Naomi is an artist based in Florence, Italy. She incorporates vintage and found materials or objects combined with new elements in each of her various media: jewelry, design, painting, and collage on paper, wooden doors and furniture.
I began making collages during my sojourn in Italy because I wanted an art form that was portable, immediate, and inexpensive. At first, they were mementos of being in a foreign environment and were directly related to site and place, usually in a historic context. They have evolved into work that is less about place and more about suggesting narratives with a contemporary reference. Using scraps of found paper memorabilia and magazines, which are normally discarded after being read, I recompose these remnants putting them in a new, fragmented context, changing the relationship of how they were previously perceived.
In making these collages I am conscious of the similarities with the process of designing interior spaces, and I enjoy multi-disciplinary modes of approach, concept, and media. In a parallel way that interior design is somewhat restricted, based on parameters given by the client, the architecture, the structure, or the given space, these collages also have their own determined limitations. The dimension is consistent and the materials used are recycled images or text. The formal elements in common with design are the liberties used to construct the composition. The concerns are of color, pattern, texture, layers, text, and their relational proportions and an emotional connection. In most cases, I have used the original materials, rather than scanning or photocopying because that would create a different set of "rules" and infinite options more closely linked to graphic design and manipulation of original images. By not using computer imaging, this process is purposely low-tech cut and paste, which results in a rich and tactile artifact. They become experiences in hunting, looking, collecting, and assembling elements and relationships while being game-like with a goal of solving a layered puzzle with what materials are available at hand.
Doors are symbolic for openings and closings of spaces and experiences. What is behind a closed door? Imagine all the private, secret interiors of homes and gardens that are behind closed doors in Florence. There is the inside world and then there is the outside. Through the threshold of the door is where the transition of these two spaces is connected. To physically pass through a door opens up a world of unknown possibilities, such as travel, in this case.
These particular doors were found and rescued from Florentine refuse. They have their own histories unknown to me and their markings reveal that they were well utilized. Without masking these existing marks, these identifications of character, I have chosen to collage, paint and draw on the surfaces to enhance what I consider beautiful "scars" engrained in the wood after many years of use. Adding layers of translucency, text, maps, patterns, and architectural moments, the compositions relate to stories of travel through time and space with recollections and memories relative to Tuscany.