Hands can express the hidden feelings of a person. They tap and pick away at things, scratch, stroke and grasp. We use our hands as tools, to show emotion, to greet and caress. However, when are ones’ hands idle in our current daily life? When the body is idle what do our hands naturally desire to do? We have moved our busy hands from knitting and fixing in free time to swiping and tapping on smartphones. Hands repeat routines everyday. They have learnt and fall back on natural movements, whether scrolling on a phone, picking at nails or the tapping of fingers; everyone has their own repetitive hand habit.
In this exhibition we see the artist as performer and model of the idle moment, filling the duration of time of the show with a process concentrated on the single use of the hand - a tool fully integrated within the body. The artist sits with herself each day in the gallery to mark the time she is idle, recording this duration within the pattern of the knitted piece - days marked in colours and each hour marked with a strip of red.
The viewer is invited through the works in this exhibition to begin to question and reflect on what their hands do each day. Are we truly aware of the life of our hands? And are they being used in the way we hope them to? As Darren Leader brings up in his book ‘Hands. What we do with them - and why’ [UK: Penguin Random House, 2016] , which has been a point of research for these works:
The old warnings that the devil will seize on idle hands in fact suggests that this devil is quite personal, and will turn our hands back to our own bodies if unchecked.
Work then becomes what stops the hands from returning to stimulate the body surface.
Hannah McDonald’s work is centered around the form of the body. She questions the individual's portrayal of themselves in society and exaggerates abnormal characteristics of the human persona. Referencing autobiographical experiences and emotions she responds to the architecture of a space with installations that force the audience to directly engage in a particular way; bending and contorting their own bodies to fit and experience the work in a similar way to her own live performances. In her work the body becomes an object, something to be viewed and reflected on rather than to have a relationship with. There is an emphasis on the examination of the body’s physicalities. Hannah's focus is on making the audience feel and reflect on what she, the artist, has felt and feels: tension, claustrophobia and unease.