Gifts from the Pavement is a collection of textures, marks and shapes found on the streets of Saltaire, West Yorkshire. The collection started when I made a contribution to The Sketchbook Project 2013, a travelling library of artists sketchbooks run by the Brooklyn Art Library, USA. My book formed a record of things collected 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 ideas started in this book were then developed into a project for exhibition at Saltaire Arts Trail 2013, a visual arts festival that runs annually in the World Heritage Site of Saltaire. The development of ideas around this project was further influenced by the book Edgelands, (Farley & Symmons Roberts, 2012).
On one bright March day in March 2013 I walked the streets of Saltaire collecting images, marks and items: subtle changes in the surface of the pavement; points of interest under foot; discarded objects like a rusty washer or squashed tin can, a dropped ticket or a scrap of something not-quite-discernable. The objects, marks and shapes were collected physically and through photography.
These images and items could have been found on the streets of any urban area. They are often anonymous and overlooked objects. Some are part of the very fabric of the streets. Some are items dropped, discarded or lost. They appear as seemingly insignificant snippets of peoples’ work and lives as they move around the streets of Saltaire. What brings these items together is that they were gathered during one day. Some marks are as old as Titus Salt’s humanitarian vision; some have been added at various points in Saltaire’s history as part of the functioning of the place. The more ephemeral objects may have been dropped that March morning as someone rushed to work.
Within this collection is a snapshot of the World Heritage site taken on one day but encompassing elements from the whole history of the village. The found items and images were arranged, explored and developed into series of long layered prints, incorporating rust prints, collagraph prints, screen print and hand stitch. These were to be displayed as a kind of pavement for the viewer to follow, discover, explore. The aim was to draw attention to the detail that we overlook every day and perhaps make the viewer notice a little more of their surroundings as a result. During 2013 I developed a series of Pavement Pieces, using the same set of found objects but this time making marks on silk and cotton rather than paper, building up new layers of print and stitch.
A published a book featuring photographs and detail from some of the prints is available to buy here.