It Pays to Pray

1999
Electronic display
360 x 213 x 213 cm
Edition of 1

This work is a set of three chocolate vending machines, similar to those that used to permeate the London underground and other cosmopolitan cities all over the world. In Sussex countryside, however, these lurid neon vending machines look alien and out of place. Linking diametrically opposed concepts and placing things in unlikely contexts are familiar themes in Rose Finn-Kelsey's work. Upon inserting 20 pence into these machines venders receive a prayer rather than a chocolate bar. The prayers are delivered digitally by the machine's Light Emitting Diode (LED) and once received the twenty pence coin is returned to the purchaser. The idea of indulging our craving for comfort with chocolate but receiving instead a prayer, gives us pause for thought. Chocolate bar names such as: Bounty, Flyte, Delight, Wispa, Drifter, Timeout, Picnic, Ripple, Devour are taken as titles for prayers, thereby highlighting the presence of commercialism in religion. For this work Rose Finn-Kelsey originally wrote one hundred and fifty non-denominational prayers on a blackboard and then selected ten for her machines at Cass Sculpture Foundation. The work was enabled by the Cass Sculpture Foundation for the Millennium Dome's North Meadow site, and this being within the public domain, Finn-Kelsey was obliged by the Dome's administration to justify the piece to the Bishop of Lambeth's deputy, which she achieved by correlating the uplifting effect of chocolate with that that sought in prayer.

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About The Artist

Rose Finn-Kelcey first came to prominence in the early 1970's, her artistic oeuvre is characterised by unpredictability, with each work changing dramatically from one to the next. From 1975 - 1985 Finn-Kelcey's work was almost entirely performance based, including works such as One for Sorrow Two for Joy (Acme Gallery, London,1976) and The Boilermakers' Assistant (London Calling, 1978). In 1980 she introduced the idea of a 'vacated performance' in an effort to express a desire to be both inside and yet objectively outside a work, as epitomised by Mind the Gap, (ICA, London, 1980), Glory (Serpentine Gallery, London, 1983) and Black and Blue (Matt's Gallery, London, 1984). The late 80's saw a move to more installation based work with a performative element. Finn-Kelcey's body of work is a complex amalgam of themes which investigate power, the dilemmas of mastery, the myth of the artist, the nature of collaboration, the surrogate performer, spirituality, longing and death. Invocations of the spiritual are a recurring motif in Finn-Kelcey's work. In the early 90's Finn-Kelcey made work that challenged the material and spiritual limits of our built environment through works such as her room sized block of steam (held in place by cold air curtains).

Rose Finn-Kelcey

Born: 1945