One of the central pieces of ‘Something of Happiness’ at the Watergate
For years AK Lee, lived close to a Registry Office in England. Families would queue for photos by the tree outside. For the first few years the block wall in the background went unplastered.
“At an otherwise lovely wedding there I found it office-y, lots of washable paint and signs for fire extinguishers,” she said. ‘Something of Happiness’ is made with there in mind.
And you can see it, experience it, from this Thursday until September 30, Monday to Saturday at the Watergate Theatre.
“Given the occasion, anything arch or excluding would be inappropriate,” AK enthused.
“It is occasion-specific and made with a very specific audience in mind: Great granny and her great grandchild can have their photograph taken in front of it comfortably.
“Something of Happiness is secular and the central couple are deliberately gender-vague,” AK added.
It’s a 3-d paperwork but responds to traditional stained glass.
It’s approximately 11 feet wide x 8 feet tall. It took roughly two days per week for three and a half years spread over four years.
“It had two long false starts but was otherwise an absolute joy to do,” she said.
“Convention holds that the topic of happiness isn't worth exploring yet the choice of happiness is as valid a response to helplessness before the void as despair.
“To dismiss happiness as a trifling concern strikes at the autonomy of the individual and limits discourse.
“The convention is to disregard happiness as a fruitful topic for art, as distinct from, say, drug addiction.
“To explore the grim is to be unflinching. Perhaps this is partly prompted by happiness being so frequently portrayed as required gleefulness, as escape and bovine lassitude - even as down time.
“Narrowing discourse sates the impulse of those who fear exploration.
“Anything that narrows discourse delights those who portray nuance and doubt as measures of irrelevance. As if doubt isn’t debate and debate isn’t fuel.
“Narrowing the meaning of happiness excludes acquired tastes such as tiles and olives and dentistry,” she argued.
“Broadening the meaning of happiness allows for the savouring of incompetence or the ability to appreciate that which one doesn't like, be it porcelain, or tangy apple flavour Hubba Bubba, or ease with fleeting exultation, whatever arises from rootedness in the now and fill-in-the-gap but I would add barges,” AK concluded.
She has exhibitied in many places and in many forums.