I’ve been exploring what there is on my allotment, including all the things I have inherited from the previous owner(s). As well as plants and the structure of beds that contain them (or not!), there are many other objects and materials with potential use to me. The site is a sort of palimpsest, a record of the different layers of activity and lives that have worked the plot.
Rusty old tools, which at first seemed pretty useless, are being put to use at times – if a hammer is a bit rusty it still works as a hammer! I’ve been drawing some of these tools and other objects using my home-made inks. These are made from previously gathered walnuts and oak galls, neither of which I am likely to find on my plot. But I have plans for making inks with things that do grow here.
Drawing really makes me look at the detail of these objects: the nature of the surfaces; the curve of a handle; the structures that make up the forms. It is deep looking and allows for good thinking time.
My exhibition in Le Mans, France opened this weekend, hosted by the town of Le Mans and facilitated by Atelier de Genevieve. I’m incredibly grateful to Genevieve for organising and curating the exhibition. The layered, peeling paint and crumbling textures on the walls of the Pavilion Monod make a wonderful backdrop to the neutral tones of my work. The exhibition is on until 29th October.
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.
This week I’ve been creating an installation at The Bowery in Leeds. This is based on my long Spurn Cloth #2 but sees it displayed in a very different way to the previous venues it has visited. Rather than hanging vertically the cloth is hung horizontally round half of the gallery room. I have extended it using collaged rusted and printed paper so that the band of texture and marks forms a complete circle around the space.
The paper is collaged directly onto the wall, something that I was quite nervous about doing. Having completed it, I’m really excited about how it has worked. There is a kind of freedom to this sort of site-specific work. I don’t have to worry about pricing or whether anyone might want to buy it. It can just be.
At the end of the exhibition the paper extension will then be scraped off the wall and will be no longer. Just as Spurn itself is constantly changing shape, bits being eroded in one area and deposited in another, this installation has seen the original cloth extended, added to, enhanced. And then, as if by the action of an exceptionally high tide, it will be taken away again.
My work is showing alongside a beautiful exhibition by Hannah. The preview is this evening from 6-8pm (all welcome) and the exhibitions run until 5th July.