I’ve been working on some small textile pieces that are part of the series of works called Gifts from the Pavement. These compliment the paper based prints that formed the original exhibition. They are made in the same way, building up layers of rust print, collagraph print (both using found objects from the Saltaire streets) and stitch, but this time on silk.
These ones have just gone off to the framers and I have a little stack to work on through the holidays.
I’ve been working quietly away at my exhibition for Saltaire Arts Trail. This time next week the event will be in full swing and the ‘village’ of Saltaire will be buzzing with people of all ages, inspired energy and a plethora of different art experiences for visitors to sample. One of these will be my exhibition Gifts from the Pavement, in one of two pop-up galleries on Victoria Road.
I posted a while ago about finding my ‘gifts’, the result of a kind of ‘beach-combing’ or pavement combing. Farley & Roberts (see post on Edgelands) refer to this kind of collecting of objects: “This is not beachcombing, but edgecombing” (p154). Saltaire, a World Heritage Site, can’t really be classed as an edgeland; it’s far too loved and looked after. However, the discarded or ignored details that I’ve explored here are generally over-looked, so there is an edgelands quality to them.
My collection of ‘combed’ textures, marks and shapes found on the streets of Saltaire has been transformed into a series of long prints or sections of a path, which will form the main part of the exhibition. As with other recent print-based work these are built up from various layers of different print techniques and texture: There are rust prints from found metal objects; collagraph prints, some made with found items and some from paper but inspired by the textures and patterns found on the street (drain covers, worked stone etc.); mono-prints using some of the natural items I found (leaves and seed heads); screen prints featuring scraps of found text; hand stitch adding a further layer of texture to the surface and finally a layer of subtle texture, almost like a rubbing, that makes the surface even more pavement-like. There are areas of intense activity as well as quieter sections. This reflects the ‘activity’ on the streets: some stretches were rich in points of interest, others much ‘cleaner’.
In the run-up to the Arts Trail the Saltaire Tourist Information Centre has some ‘Pavement Pieces’ prints (like little fragments of the main ones) and cards. I still don’t know exactly how the long prints will actually come together in the exhibition space until I get in there later in the week. This is slightly nerve-racking but exciting too. The book I’ve published to go with the exhibition is due for delivery on Monday and until I see it in print I won’t know if it really has worked how I hoped. Although the work is all made there are unknowns and challenges for the week ahead.
I took the opportunity to have some time by the sea, both at Bridlington and a little further up the coast at Filey. Despite the persistent cold weather we’re having there was some beautiful sunshine and it was quite a wrench to tear myself away from the beach. There were all sorts of intriguing marks in the bright white stones, some almost like stitches.
This interesting exhibition opens at the weekend with a preview on Friday evening. Artlink is a centre for community arts in Hull and has an exciting programme of exhibitions and workshops. All the artists showing work in Re-Present use found objects in different ways.
I have a series of prints (incorporating rust and collagraphs) in the exhibition that I’ve called Beach Ghosts and which, you guessed it, feature items found on the beach.
‘No painting is possible without poetry’
Po Kin Yi (9th C)
Eyes in the feet
Pocketed, brought home,
Shaped under tea’s chemistry
Left on paper sketchbook thin
Enough to register on both sides
Where the roller has marked,
Capriciously, a backdrop
Always different, pavement grey,
Mottled, complex as storm clouds
on a winter sky. Then, the stitch.
Marks of a bird’s foot
On the footpath’s mud,
We crouched close to view
In the last light of this fading year
My book is a record of things picked up in the streets around my home on everyday short walks during autumn and winter: on the way to the post office or back from school. The things I’ve picked up are insignificant: a rusty washer, a few leaves, a beer bottle top… They have come together with the help of the chemistry of tea to make marks on the pages of the book. I’ve then used rollers and ink to build up more marks and texture and finally there are stitches added in response to the other marks.
This morning I finished my book and now I can post it off to the Brooklyn Art Library for it to join all the other books from around the world. Eventually my book will be available online to view digitally, but for now here are a few peeks at the detail: