I should have known – although come to think of it – how could I? Wasn’t that the point?

Game of skill, game of chance; impossible to predict quite where it would end. If indeed, it ever will.

Along the way; unexpected events and sudden inspirations.

The fool’s journey.

Not so foolish, after all.


#52 of 52: Kim McGuire

Object: A deck of playing cards. It was fitting that the object that inspired this final work in a series of 52 was a deck of playing cards; there are 52 cards in a deck.


Themes explored in the work included;

  • The meanings attributed to cards; in the Tarot for example, each card and suit has a generic meaning but their specific meaning is interpreted, relative to the life-situation of the reader. Arriving at that interpretation is a process of joint enquiry by the reader and the person leading the reading.
  • Ambiguity and double-meanings; In card games, the value of a card may vary, depending on the other cards a player holds or the rules of a specific game. For example, aces or jokers can be “wild”, meaning they can be played as either a low or high value card or they can be used as a substitute for another.
  • Games of skill and chance as a metaphor for life; there are many card games. Even the simplest – like Snap! – have some element of skill. The expression “you have to play the cards you’re dealt” means that in any endeavour, you have to accept and draw on your own resources to make the most of the situation.
  • Pattern recognition; a good card player will track the cards in play. They observe the cards other players put on the table and envisage possible scenarios and adapt their strategy accordingly. We rely on pattern recognition – typically unconsciously – to solve problems and to come up with creative answers to challenges.

In the final work a figure in a jester or fool’s costume views a number of works on a wall.

This work is all about beginnings, endings and the cycle of evolution.

The fool reviews 50 framed images on a wall. In his hand is another and the image itself is number 52.

The courtly fool was empowered to ask questions, to pose a contrarian viewpoint in order to ensure that courtly matters were considered from all angles and that the King’s decisions were sound. As the project matured, it became a process of enquiry and exploration into a range of themes including our relationships with our world of objects and other people.

In the Tarot, the fool is the character that embarks on a journey (through life), carrying all that he needs to achieve fulfillment, overcome obstacles and enjoy many accomplishments. The fool’s journey is full of unexpected events and sudden inspirations.

This work encapsulates my own, very personal experience of Project 52. In some respects, it’s a meta-fiction – a story about a story about a story. The opening line “I should have known” is a reference to my reaction when presented with the deck of cards as Kim’s choice of object but then, “wasn’t that the point” of the Project and the process I followed to generate the body of work? Engaging others in creating a body of work, forced me adopt a process that entailed a loss of some control

The title of the work – Trump – references the card that prevails all others because it is elevated to a higher than normal position, thanks to the rules of the game. I’m very proud of the body of work that came out of Project 52 and very pleased with how much it’s enabled me to develop my art practice.

At the end of a game (or a tarot reading) the cards are shuffled and dealt again. The cycle repeats and the fool embarks on yet another journey. Producing the last of the 52 works represented a very significant milestone in the project and in my artistic development. It is an ending and also a beginning, as I now embark on the next phase of Project 52; creating the Project52 book. It’s also a beginning because I intend to use Project 52 as a platform to launch another participatory art project, called “Art Missions”.

The fool’s journey – not so foolish after all.


Project 52

Project52 is a participatory art project that explores intrigue and our relationships with objects and people. Provide a photo of an object. Receive an artwork and 52-word story. Reflect. Playback and share.

The project will culminate in an exhibition, when 52 works are completed.



Check out some of the works.

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