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  • MORE MORE The bowls are a metaphor for ‘more’. As such, ‘more’ has several meanings: It draws on the image of Oliver Twist asking for ‘more’; It depicts the begging bowls for the homeless, destitute and the needy, and also points to the greed of those who already have ‘enough’ but are not satisfied. In each bowl pennies, (some Victorian, some modern) are secreted in the base.
  • DIMINISHING RETURNS DIMINISHING RETURNS Abstract figures bring to mind the human form are partially transparent suggesting the ephemerality of existence. The title is inspired by a law, alluded to by Thomas Malthus in 1798. This law has been adapted and still used today. It simply states that there is a point beyond which production is not increased proportionally to input, and eventually might even began to decrease. For example, if a variable resource (say labour / seed) is added to a fixed resource (say land), total product eventually increases by smaller amounts.
  • DIMINISHING RETURNS DIMINISHING RETURNS Abstract figures bring to mind the human form are partially transparent suggesting the ephemerality of existence. The title is inspired by a law, alluded to by Thomas Malthus in 1798. This law has been adapted and still used today. It simply states that there is a point beyond which production is not increased proportionally to input, and eventually might even began to decrease. For example, if a variable resource (say labour / seed) is added to a fixed resource (say land), total product eventually increases by smaller amounts.
  • MORE MORE The bowls are a metaphor for ‘more’. As such, ‘more’ has several meanings: It draws on the image of Oliver Twist asking for ‘more’; It depicts the begging bowls for the homeless, destitute and the needy, and also points to the greed of those who already have ‘enough’ but are not satisfied. In each bowl pennies, (some Victorian, some modern) are secreted in the base.
  • MORE MORE The bowls are a metaphor for ‘more’. As such, ‘more’ has several meanings: It draws on the image of Oliver Twist asking for ‘more’; It depicts the begging bowls for the homeless, destitute and the needy, and also points to the greed of those who already have ‘enough’ but are not satisfied. In each bowl pennies, (some Victorian, some modern) are secreted in the base.
  • CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED Tee shirts neatly stacked in seven piles as though in a designer shop. Each carries screen printed text designating one of the seven categories. Each tee shirt also has two labels, stitched to the hem and the sleeve. The label on the hem states, ‘TAKE CARE. THIS GARMENT MAY BE A SWEATSHOP PRODUCT’. The label on the sleeve states, ‘MAGGY MILNER - LIMITED ADDITION’ This draws a sharp comparison between the trend for over priced designer clothes and to the often exploitative working conditions of factory workers. The seven categories were: Old and Infirm – Men Old and Infirm – Women Undeserving Poor – Men Undeserving Poor – Women Boys 7 – 15 Girls 7 – 17 Children 0 – 7
  • CLASSIFIED CLASSIFIED Tee shirts neatly stacked in seven piles as though in a designer shop. Each carries screen printed text designating one of the seven categories. Each tee shirt also has two labels, stitched to the hem and the sleeve. The label on the hem states, ‘TAKE CARE. THIS GARMENT MAY BE A SWEATSHOP PRODUCT’. The label on the sleeve states, ‘MAGGY MILNER - LIMITED ADDITION’ This draws a sharp comparison between the trend for over priced designer clothes and to the often exploitative working conditions of factory workers. The seven categories were: Old and Infirm – Men Old and Infirm – Women Undeserving Poor – Men Undeserving Poor – Women Boys 7 – 15 Girls 7 – 17 Children 0 – 7
  • HARD LABOUR HARD LABOUR This installation refers to arduous and sometimes futile work regime devised for the inmates in the 1830’s. Women and girls over 15 were made to pick apart oakum, (heavily tarred rope) with unprotected hands, while men had to smash rocks to fine grit for road building The installation may bring to mind the exploitative working conditions in societies today.
  • HARD LABOUR HARD LABOUR This installation refers to arduous and sometimes futile work regime devised for the inmates in the 1830’s. Women and girls over 15 were made to pick apart oakum, (heavily tarred rope) with unprotected hands, while men had to smash rocks to fine grit for road building The installation may bring to mind the exploitative working conditions in societies today.
  • DEFLATION DEFLATION The Master’s bedroom was purposely set in the centre of the The Workhouse so that, like a spider at the centre of his web web, he could oversee all the the grounds outside, and overhear activities in the house. Deflation alludes to the lack of privacy, the constant control over the inmate’s lives, and the diminishing effects of the poverty trap. Clear cylinders in neat orderly rows, categorised with metal tags, support, but entrap, clear balloons, which will slowly expire.
  • DEFLATION DEFLATION The Master’s bedroom was purposely set in the centre of the The Workhouse so that, like a spider at the centre of his web web, he could oversee all the the grounds outside, and overhear activities in the house. Deflation alludes to the lack of privacy, the constant control over the inmate’s lives, and the diminishing effects of the poverty trap. Clear cylinders in neat orderly rows, categorised with metal tags, support, but entrap, clear balloons, which will slowly expire.
  • PERISHABLE GOODS PERISHABLE GOODS Glass Jars, each containing a single labelled fruit, were grouped in rigid rows, to signify the seven categories that were given to inmates of The Workhouse. Fruit was sourced from local gardens and the Kitchen Garden at Brackenhurst. The fruit slowly deteriorated at different rates.
  • PERISHABLE GOODS PERISHABLE GOODS Glass Jars, each containing a single labelled fruit, were grouped in rigid rows, to signify the seven categories that were given to inmates of The Workhouse. Fruit was sourced from local gardens and the Kitchen Garden at Brackenhurst. The fruit slowly deteriorated at different rates.
     

A DELICATE BALANCE 2011

Maggy Milner’s recent project, a series of contemporary art installations in collaboration with the National Trust, is a response both, to the austere eerie and oppressive atmosphere of The Workhouse, and to the social history of the Victorian Workhouse systems that were, at that time, the economic solution to deal with poor, the unemployed and vulnerable.

Many governments have grappled with the balancing act of how much, or how little state support should be given to those in need. This series of installations also draws parallels with similar issues in society today.

Southwell’s Workhouse was designed in 1824 as an institution for the poor and disadvantaged. Masterminded by the Reverend John Thomas Becher. it introduced a new ‘welfare system’, requiring that the poor, old and infirm were given refuge. This system was adopted throughout England and Wales.

Becher’s philosophy of ‘Supervision, Classification and Segregation’ caused great humiliation and degradation for the unemployed and disadvantaged. The harsh regime has been described as a ‘fearful deterrent’.  (Andrew Roberts, Lecturer in Sociology, Middlesex University).

Maggy Milner’s work refers to the demeaning, repetitive drudgery, regimentation and the rigid ‘black and white’ categorisation of Workhouse inmates. By using multiples of freestanding objects - some ready-made, some hand-crafted, she hopes to convey the delicate balance between state support and the independence of the individual.

Objects chosen for their ambiguity are labeled and placed in regimented rows to denote classification, segregation and supervision. Backlit by the atmospheric light, the work has a luminous transparency suggesting the fragility and precariousness of life.
VIEW VIDEO

HARD LABOUR
This installation refers to arduous and sometimes futile work regime devised for the inmates in the 1830’s. Women and girls over 15 were made to pick apart oakum, (heavily tarred rope) with unprotected hands, while men had to smash rocks to fine grit for road building 
The installation may bring to mind the exploitative working conditions in societies today.
 
PERISHABLE GOODS
Glass Jars, each containing a single labelled fruit, were grouped in rigid rows, to signify the seven categories that were given to inmates of The Workhouse. Fruit was sourced from local gardens and the Kitchen Garden at Brackenhurst. The fruit slowly deteriorated at different rates.
 
CLASSIFIED
Tee shirts neatly stacked in seven piles as though in a designer shop. Each carries screen printed text designating one of the seven categories.
The seven categories were:
Old and Infirm – Men
Old and Infirm – Women
Undeserving Poor – Men
Undeserving Poor – Women
Boys 7 – 15
Girls 7 – 17
Children 0 – 7
Each tee shirt also has two labels, stitched to the hem and the sleeve.
The label on the hem states,
‘TAKE CARE. THIS GARMENT MAY BE A SWEATSHOP PRODUCT’.
The label on the sleeve states,
‘MAGGY MILNER - LIMITED ADDITION’
This draws a sharp comparison between the trend for over priced designer clothes and to the often exploitative working conditions of factory workers.

MORE
The bowls are a metaphor for ‘more’.  As such, ‘more’ has several meanings: It draws on the image of Oliver Twist asking for ‘more’; It depicts the begging bowls for the homeless, destitute and the needy, and also points to the greed of those who already have ‘enough’ but are not satisfied.
In each bowl pennies, (some Victorian, some modern) are secreted in the base. 

DIMINISHING RETURNS
Abstract figures bring to mind the human form are partially transparent suggesting the ephemerality of existence.
The title is inspired by a law, alluded to by Thomas Malthus in 1798.  This law has been adapted and still used today. It simply states that there is a point beyond which production is not increased proportionally to input, and eventually might even began to decrease.
For example, if a variable resource (say labour / seed) is added to a fixed resource (say land), total product eventually increases by smaller amounts.

DEFLATION
The Master’s bedroom was purposely set in the centre of the The Workhouse so that, like a spider at the centre of his web web, he could oversee all the the grounds outside, and overhear activities in the house. Deflation alludes to the lack of privacy, the constant control over the inmate’s lives, and the diminishing effects of the poverty trap. Clear cylinders in neat orderly rows, categorised with metal tags, support, but entrap, clear balloons, which will slowly expire.

MORE INFORMATION:
- video of installations
- about Southwell Workhouse
- interior shots of the workhouse by Maggy Milner

Maggy Milner would like to thank Phil Neal, sculptor; Louise Presley, textile artist;  Jackie Berridge, artist; Dionne Swift, textile artist; Tom Hackett, installation artist and Stuart Blackwood, photographer /graphic designer for sharing their technical expertise and specialised knowledge and giving their generous help and support.

She would also like to thank Rachel Harrison, Wendy Purvis and all the National Trust staff and the volunteers who have given up so much time and enthusiasm which has helped to make this work possible.