On Giglets: Part 3

‘The study of these products of folk-psychology [myth, legend, and fairy-tales] is by no means complete; however it is highly likely that myth, for instance, corresponds to the distorted remains of the wishful fantasies of whole nations, the secular dreams of youthful humanity.’

Sigmund Freud, ‘Creative Writers and Day-dreaming’, 1908

Rita’s Giglet
Giglets 6
Hannah’s Giglet











Previously I’ve spoken about the conceptual motivation behind making the Giglets: the act of recreating the ancient; the physical link between contemporary and ancient attitudes and instincts; the interesting idea of lost and irretrievable cultures, beliefs and communities leaving behind these sad relics; in general the Giglets are physical manifestations of what Freud calls ‘the secular dreams of youthful humanity’. Fairy-tales and mythologies tell us about our cultural and societal origins, while constantly being re-told/re-framed to engage with contemporary concerns, and the Giglets try to do the same, providing a physical link with a fantastical, phantasmagorical ancient world.

I’ve also spoken about the act of creating the Giglets: nothing but hand and clay, letting the shapes emerge by themselves, trying to create forms that are part human, part animal, part abstract. I really like it when someone says they see a female form in one Giglet; someone else says a cat; someone else says a penis. Not all of them can do this but the overall effect is hopefully one of ambiguous shifting shapes, somewhere between human and animal. After creating the original series of 50 Giglets, I experimented with glazes, from earth tones and black with a glossy, almost PVC finish, to see what happened when the forms were differentiated, made into different tribes, the glaze making a piece’s form more familiar or more uncertain.

Then I touched on how I’ve since displayed the Giglets: they have been shown in a grid on a bespoke plinth, they have been in a pile on the floor, they have been arranged randomly in groups or segregated by colour and type; they have ventured into contemporary art galleries, brick basements, stately homes. The Giglets have been shown by themselves and been incorporated as a feature in larger works. For my MA Show presentation, they will accompany the performer in an immersive installation, acting as voices from another time, friendly talismans, undead creatures with mysterious motivations.

Art in the Castle 2
Paul’s Giglet and Friends

So there we have the conception, creation and curation of the Giglets. Now we move onto their next stage, their cremation. Or, a series of possibilities as to how the things can progress forward in their narrative. What is the best thing to do with them now?

This need to set them free on their way outside of my life is partly motivated by practicalities; realistically I don’t have many options of storing or moving the 50 of them in the current collection, and I don’t really feel it’s right to keep all 50 of them in a box somewhere. I also don’t want to sell them; it makes me think of actual ancient artefacts that were ‘sold and stolen, or stolen and sold’ (as Michael Rakowitz said in his short film on the subject, The Ballad of Secret Ops Cody (2007)). I don’t want a stranger to buy them, someone I don’t know; they seem intimate to me for some reason, like a much-loved childhood toy that, though you know is worthless and not alive, still has a presence and associations to a deep part of you that make it unpleasant to throw away.

Giglets 5
Kate and Paul’s Giglet

I considered seriously at the start of the course, before I had made them, the idea of destroying them or losing them somehow: burying them in a park or a garden, throwing them into the Thames, hiding them in interesting locations. Burying them particularly seemed to resonate: sending them back from whence they came, maybe for them to be found in several thousand years and become ‘actual’ Giglets. But while I still wanted to lose control of them, for them to have other lives beyond me, after I had made them the idea of destroying them all in this way seemed very final, and maybe not that interesting, and also I kind of hate people shoving their random shit into public spaces and for someone else to clear it up or sort out its problem. Maybe there was a more novel solution, and one that would leave me open to future possibilities.

This led me on to the founding of …

The Giglet Adoption Scheme (GAdS)

The reasons why the Giglet Adoption Scheme came into being are:

  • Allows me to choose who has a Giglet and where they go
  • Mutually beneficient arrangement: the adoptive parent receives a Giglet to adorn their home, I get a safe place for the Giglet where it may be cherished and show my appreciation and thanks for that person
  • Acts as a long term scheme where the Giglets follow the parent around wherever they move to, acting as a physical link between me (biological parent) and the adoptive parents, possibly spreading around the globe and moving in very different contexts
  • The GAdS allows the Giglets to not just go back to the earth/be removed from existence in the way that the original Giglets were, to be re-discovered with their original contexts and purposes lost; while I find this interesting I am more interested in other lives that my Giglets can have that go beyond the simple formula
  • It’s fun hearing why people pick certain Giglets, what they remind them of, and picking a Giglet for a person if the Giglet reminds me of that person when I’ve made it. I enjoy these conversations and connections
  • Forms an almost non-consensual community between myself and many adoptive parents who will never meet each other but are connected in this commonality, which is funny

(Side-note: ‘gads’ is an enjoyable Scottish word expressing disgust.)

To be considered for the Giglet Adoption Scheme, prospective parents must:

  • Suggest an interest in the Giglets and a desire to have one
  • I must also want to give them one – i.e. I think they’ll appreciate it and they understand the project
  • Update me on the location of the Giglet, wherever they move in the world, or if they lose or break it
  • Send me pictures of their Giglet in its new home for the newsletter
  • Be long-term friends, family, and important to me in some personal, intimate way; this is a instinctive differentiation, as simply being an old friend or a family member shouldn’t necessarily entitle a person to a Giglet. There should be a level of trust and a strong relationship, whether we’ve known each other all our lives or only in the last six months. The success of GAdS depends on mutual love and respect.
  • In the event of an adoptive parent’s demise, the Giglet should be returned to me for re-homing

I think I now want to utilise the Giglets as a physical connector between me and people I know who I think are fantastic, who I miss, who have been very kind to me and I don’t want to lose now I have them. We live in a scary, fluid Western world where people move around very fast: my Giglets are now grouped mainly in Scotland and London but soon, from what I know of Giglet parents’ plans, they will be in Germany, Japan, Portugal, the USA, and more. If the Giglet could talk on my behalf, it would say to its guardian: ‘Thank you for being nice to me. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. When you look at me, I hope you think of our relationship and feel good about yourself.’

They also have built-in hidden cameras too for spying.

This runs the risk of sounding sentimental, but essentially I wanted to find a purpose for the Giglets in this stage of their existence that fulfilled a need for myself, personally, and acts as a constant in a world of change. Like the original museum artefacts, unchanged after a thousand years buried in a desert while the world moves on above, I would quite like my Giglets to act as a rock, a root, a web of connections, an unchanging presence that solidifies my life and relationships for me and deals with my anxiety towards death, change and time; like an anxiety-busting talisman, a blessed charm.

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