she shew me

April 30, 2012

..only when I moved to Manchester was I told of my incorrect grammar. But back in Norfolk I could say without note that my sister shew me, along the river Wensum, things I’d not seen before. My sister, having now lived there longer than me, walked me through the city along the river with its huge weeping willows and shew me the old pump house near Barn Road, some good public art – it looks like it belongs there – on the Quay side and a parasitic birds house in a tree beside Cow Tower.  She shew me the Jarrolds Printing museum, only open on Wednesdays ( it was a thursday) and a new bridge – rusty metal and wood..mmmm near Pulls Ferry. We walked over to see parts of the old city walls, out past the football grounds and Carrow Bridge House, tucked away up the side of a hill. She says they reckon parts of the wall were taken as raw materials, built in and around. People are living with the wall in their homes today and might not even know they have a lookout post in the attic, flint arrowheads in the cellar.

We also walked into Surrey House the Norwich Union building that took up all the marble Westminster Abbey couldn’t afford, lining almost every surface with it. We saw an  early air conditioning system and a gold and green skeleton clock made for the Great Exhibition. The clock played 12 tunes, 1 for every hour, the workers disabled it as they couldn’t get enough work done, unable to resist the urge to waltz the  marble floors whenever the  chime called them.

The Ben Youseff Medersa had a courtyard with tiled walkways and a hall with intricately carved white plaster walls and high wooden doors in the arches. The students rooms were set around smaller less decorative tiered landings with carved wooden bannisters and eaves opening out to the sky. The rooms were living and study spaces, small, spartan and solid with wooden steps and platforms worn smooth by the students who stood and laid upon them. I enjoyed the inset spaces, windows and tiny connecting doors. Without furniture, it seemed to me the spaces encouraged you to consider them as playgrounds, to climb over, crawl through and tuck yourself into nooks and I wondered if that was how the students lived or played there and if they would be allowed.

I came away from Morocco simultaneously wanting to get rid of all of my stuff and live very simply whilst colouring all the walls and filling areas with dense detail. Those contrasts seem to heighten the emotion and feeling of each space, making it more tranquil or portent in relation.  The internal and external qualities of the architecture mirroring the Islamic inward and reflective attitude towards spirituality. Lovely spaces for a life well lived.

book post

February 15, 2012

In the autumn I made the biggest edition I’ve managed so far – 100 little concertina books. With images drawn and screen printed from the etchings I had made about the special wilderness found, for example, under tramlines and between canals and railways.  As I’m not the best at anything and hate wastage, around 40 of the 100 books are a little like special wilderness themselves – smudgy, wonky or a bit scruffy. These 40 are being sent out across the country to 10 wonderful destinations where kind people will start their journey off into who knows where.  I hope to keep some sort of track of them here.