Ballard’s House Clearance

Taking the dystopian, surreal qualities of her father JG Ballard’s writing, the work of Fay Ballard is disquieting, uneasy and compelling.

Dead Bird
Dead Bird

A new show at Eleven Spitalfields Gallery in east London will showcase Fay Ballard’s recent drawings, in an exhibition entitled House Clearance.

It’s a poignant title for a poignant series of work, all created since Fay Ballward’s father died in 2009. Her mother had died of pneumonia in 1964 on holiday in Spain, aged just 34.

In the aftermath of the bereavement, she described the process of ‘clearing’ her parents’ home as a ‘daunting task’ where ‘the past is present in each room, on the staircase banister, on the light switches, the window ledges, mantelpieces and door handles’.

Chess Set
Chess Set

Ballard’s response to this has been to carefully create drawings of the ‘stuff’ she found in her father’s house – mostly small objects such as a box of chess pieces, or more gruesomely the body of a little dead bird.

Mother reinstated (ii)
Mother reinstated (ii)

The other drawings in house clearance are reproductions of Fay Ballard’s mother, copied from photographs she discovered in the house, including an image of the family when she was a baby visiting Chiswick House Gardens.

Farewell
Farewell

The images are grouped into what the artist describes as three ‘memory boxes’. Ballard says, ‘The memory boxes commemorate and celebrate these objects which stir the memory and unlock the past.

‘The drawings of my mother make concrete her presence. The process of drawing and making marks on to paper brings her back, and makes her real. They reinstate her into my life.’

Car in Desert Photograph
Car in Desert Photograph

House Clearance by Fay Ballard runs from 2 May – 27 June at Eleven Spitalfields Gallery, 11 Princelet Street, Spitalfields, London E16QH. The exhibition is available to view by appointment only, Mon-Fri between 12-6. For more information visit http://www.elevenspitalfields.com/

Swimming Cap
Swimming Cap

Latest articles

Remembering Jon Daniel: 1966-2017

We look back on the life and work of the Design Week columnist, independent creative director and social activist “who helped put black participation on the political map”.