Casting in Retrograde

Posted on May 14, 2014 | in Collections, events, Exhibitions, Featured, Library & University Collections, students | by

Deborah Marshall is a final year Sculpture student at Edinburgh College of Art. Deborah discusses her work for the ECA Degree Show 2014, which investigates the Cast Collection. 

Casting in Retrograde – a diptych, 2014 is a work that connects and transposes the vast sculpture court and the diminutive casting room of ECA through the medium of sound. It emerged in response to a double opportunity – that of a live vocal performance in the sculpture court on the degree show opening night and the casting room as my show space for a yet to be conceived audio-based work.


The placement of a figure from the cast collection within the casting room as part of the installation has brought the process of display, reserved for the sculpture court, into the space historically assigned for back-room production of cast works. Likewise, my recorded audio – an excerpt from Purcell’s Didos Lament, scored and sung in reverse as a six-part canon – that I performed and pre-recorded with an amateur choir in the beautifully resonant sculpture court – is now embedded in the tall but comparatively tiny casting room for continuous play-back. Through this score, with its references to antiquity via Virgil’s epic poem and Purcell’s Baroque reinterpretation, I am playing with ideas of direction, time, appropriation and narrative.

Importantly, on one level the work questions the place of an historic cast collection within the context of contemporary, conceptual art and its education. For much of my time at ECA, the casts, have seemed an historically interesting but largely architecturally and decoratively appropriate presence beyond the periphery of my current sculptural education – an anachronism in short.

It is curious then that the simple re-placement , or repositioning of the cast figure has proved so unexpectedly transformative both with regard to the evolution of this work, and to the place that is still the working casting room within the college. The installation, with its embedded audio and visual references to the timelessness of the casting process itself, has brought a meditative stillness to the room in which the presence of the past, in the form of the cast figure, is powerfully felt.

The live performance of the audio will be performed on the evening of 22nd May, 2014 in the sculpture court of ECA.

Deborah Marshall


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