Simon Linington’s practice explores, through a range of media, ideas of personal and collective memory and the artists role within and without society. In his early career much of his work stemmed from performative actions, setting himself Sisyphean tasks - such as dragging heavy sheet steel up the many stairs to his studio, rolling a ball of clay equal to his own weight between his studio and the exhibition space, or walking round and round a column of clay for hours and days, wearing his own impression into it - allowing him to detach his mind from that making process in an effort to be a purer conduit of the artistic experience. These tasks or actions would often result in an object or material trace which are kept and presented as memories of these events. At the same time, he began to collect, categorise and store the material debris of all of his studio and performative activities, and even of past artworks broken down. This vast archive of sifted and sorted detritus now forms the bedrock of his continuing practice and will appear in various forms within his installations and spacial interventions; whether in the form of a bucket of dirty water mopped from his studio floor, rags used to clean himself and the studio stitched together into tapestries, or sorted sand and dust presented in test tubes or specimen jars evoking the memory of seaside sand samples. It is at these moments when there is an intersection between personal, collective and trace memory that Linington’s work resonates most clearly.
Linington has said of his practice:
Every child on the Isle of Wight has filled a glass tube or bottle with coloured sand from the cliffs at Alum Bay. It is an early memory that we all share, and one of the first school trips I can remember.
These souvenirs were introduced at about the same time that people began making postcards, illustrations of places on the Island, using the same coloured sand. The Victorians weren’t the first to make sand paintings, the Tibetans had been doing it for thousands of years, but no one had kept and sold them before. My early encounters with these objects, made with the material of the place for which they illustrated, made a lasting impression. Ever since, the two things, material and place have been inseparable. The fact that my grandfather was a photographer whose images were printed on the many postcards sold in local gift shops, had very little to do with this idea at the time, but as the years have passed I now think it was inevitable that I should have an instinct to express and document my relationship with my environment through images and later objects. This is something I have always tried to do, whether it be at my studio in London, or in South Africa, Sao Paulo, Morocco and Spain, all countries I have visited for residencies and exhibitions.