remains of an old town

September 12, 2016

Photos from a day spent at the old Fortress of Stari Bar in Montenegro this summer. There is plenty of information around the web about this site, abandoned after an earthquake in 1979 took out it’s aqueduct. Now an open air museum, work is being done to restore and conserve, key buildings have had their roofs replaced, one building appears to house an artist studio and performances are made in the amphitheatre. On the day of visiting music wafted across the site, the hot sun drew out the scents of the wild herbs all around while the small windows and nooks that remain in the thick stone walls provided respite from the heat for us and Stari Bar’s many cats.

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what will come

June 15, 2016

photo of James Turrell-sketch of plane

Last year looking round the renovated Central Library in Manchester I took myself up to the top floor where I used to go when I had time to kill in the city.  I’m sure it used to house the literature section and had a slight attic feel, with a raised walkway around the double height book shelves. Now it feels a bit like a spaceship, the shelves all sliding in and out, closing into modules when you don’t need them.  The closest I’ve ever been to the set of Chockablock apart from friend’s narrow boats I suppose. There I found a book about James Turrell and sat in the sunlight to read about his work.  The pictures above illustrate the story he tells of his childhood, how he was conceived in 1942 on the eve of a real or imagined attack on their home city of L.A. when his mum and dad celebrated the completion of a birdroom they had built around their flat roof for Mr Turrell to call in the birds. The windows filled the walls and opened wide for the birds to come into the room. James Turrell tells of his dad spending long evenings in the bird room singing with the birds. The birdroom became James’ bedroom but he always shared the space and his dad’s attention with the birds. The windows had dark green curtains lined with tar to blackout the light.  As he grew up Turrell explains that he took a pin to the blackout curtains to assert his self on the space.

photo of James Turrell-childhood bedroom

photo quote James Turrell story

This spring I visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and saw the singular work of Bill Viola for the first time. At the end of the exhibition in the study room a film, books and quotes from Viola were presented for contemplation over green tea. Another story of childhood written on the wall.

BillViolachildhood

My favourite of piece of Viola was The Veiling, 6 or so pieces of gauze suspended in a queue. A projector at each end playing separate films towards each other, as the image reaches further into the queue of gauze it enlarges and defocuses. Each film depicts movement through a dark space, light brushes trees, a figure. The movement sweeps the image across the surface of gauze and through the queue of gauze behind, a stagger, a shift in space and time.

Finally, just yesterday whilst following up links to another show at Touchstones Gallery I wish I’d not missed – Natural Makers, I found the wonderful work of Laura Ellen Bacon online with a piece she has written about her nesting instinct describing in loving detail the inspiring sensory memories of den building from an early age.

I’m guessing many of us will have taken paths in life influenced by instincts and memories from childhood..I wonder how many directly link their work to experience.  I now live in a place full of childhood memories. Strong physical, sensory memories.  Not my original home but a place similar to home, full of places that inhabited my dreams .  I’m remembering and wondering what will come of it.

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time spent

July 21, 2014

 

View from Cheetham and Crumpsall Allotments

 

A view into Manchester from Cheetham and Crumpsall Model Allotments. A morning a week was spent working in this lovely setting.

eastern electricity building

Seen whilst walking the river in Norwich. Apparently artist Rory Macbeth painted the entire text of Thomas Moore’s Utopia (44,000 words) on the old Eastern Electricity building. Searching will bring up internal photos too of rooms painted in red text.

Maurice Carlin at Bluecoat

A scroll piece of printing, physically scanned from the floor of the space, made over the duration of The Negligent Eye at the Bluecoat Arts Centre by Maurice Carlin.

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A view from part of the DLA Piper Series: Constellations at Tate Liverpool. The exhibition covers 2 floors and shows work grouped together by association. I enjoyed the opportunity to see the backs of frames and to view many works arranged together within space rather than crammed on a wall.

pond

Plans for a new project come together. Making escape paths out of patterns in a pond with Helen Mather.

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Two small exhibitions of wide reaching projects exploring the Yangtze River in China. At Touchstones in Rochdale, Yan Preston’s work was intimate and communicated directly. Trying to reconnect with her homeland through simple creative processes Yan’s work is physical, performative, poetic and clearly documented. Though Yan’s exhibition at Touchstones is now over (sorry!) her website is well worth a look if you are interested in ‘landscapes, myths and values’. The image above was taken from Corridor 8 where you will find a review of Yan Preston’s show.

In ‘Normal Pool Level’ by Jorge Mañes Rubio at the Chinese Art Centre, Manchester  the artist explored the impact that the monumental Three Gorges Dam had on the Yangtze River and valley. Jorge presents objects collected, adapted and created over his 2 month residency that speak of the industrial processes, cultural shifts and economies he encounters. Presented with photos, drawings and lots of informative texts. This exhibition continues on until September 7th. I have just noticed that earlier in the month both Yan and Jorge shared a discussion at the Chinese Arts Centre, damn. I will get better at this!

Liverpool Central Library

Another weekend in another wonderful library redevelopment, this time Liverpool, where the domed Picton Reading Room and the arching hall of the Hornby Library housed the casts of books and keys made by Aiko Miyanaga and the Artist’s Book exhibition that saw people I know show work alongside that of Picasso and Goya, what a treat.  My favourite time was spent looking at ‘Averting Your Fate’ by Andrew Morrison of Two Wood Press, an excellent use of print block and text.

Holly

Hock

And finally, after 2 years of watching the leaves grow, the flowers come and they don’t seem able to stop. A metre and a half for each year waiting.

I found someone else who has written about my work in the loft. This post probably offers a clearer picture of the experience of viewing the work than I have, see it here.

Thanks to Karen for the extra thoughts and words.

 

An afternoon spent sharing the work so far. In the last week I’d installed the prints and furniture blocks up in the loft space at Islington mill. I’d always had this space in mind for it’s intimate scale and timelessness, the sense of wonder that climbing the stairs induces, layers of marks, dust, glimpses of construction and former use. It allies well with the implicit life and memory of the furniture, the projected dreams, the ghostly apparitions of the prints onto fabric. In this I felt that the space was half the work and without the space, the work would be less. I’ve been assured otherwise. It was useful to see and hear how others responded to the work, the space, the work in the space.

A brief tour of the loft installation below. Photos of the individual pieces will go up on my website in a week or two.

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Some comments, all anonymous, left in exchange for an -in between- book (more of an exchange than a bribe):

tastes like burnt toast, bittersweet, peat, wood, sulphur, tea

smells like a story, a forest, linseed and memory, woodsmoke, water,

sounds like yesteryear, ambient, ‘whispers, laughing, eavesdropping, the stories you would tell the furniture’, the low drone of a road and moving air,  sanctuary from the world, normal life

feels like ‘somebody’s sadness, loneliness, just beyond the veils – but utterly peaceful’, haunting, damp wool, wondering and wandering, another world, mirrors

I would like to see it in a forest, more, in a national trust property, with spiders and butterflies, no one else,

 

in the loft

I had a wonderful time cutting the wood, making the prints, sweeping the floor, rescuing butterflies, following the flow of the soundtracks coming from the floor below, installing myself and my work in the loft and sharing it with those who came to see. My thanks to Islington Mill  and all who helped, saw and shared.

I hope to move the work on to another space where it can grow and be shared some more.

 

 

Shuttered

November 15, 2012

Over the last few weeks I’ve been making a new piece of work in response to Didsbury Parsonage for an exhibition starting this weekend. I’ve always loved this place so was really pleased to get involved. Here are some photos from the Parsonage, its gardens, the work in progress and the work finished, for now.

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-in between- news of

November 11, 2012

 

 

Left in a meditation hut in Oxford and avoiding the clutches of a one year old on a narrow boat.

Thanks to the lovely Jess for the photos.

 

the sound of rain moving in

October 17, 2012

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The tentative isolation of the first drops, being gently reminded by the clouds that they are fit to burst. The awesome power of a full rainstorm, the thrill and comfort of being able to soak it up from just inside. When the rain is really hard, feeling each individual drop hit you…or maybe that’s hail.

I managed to make this new book in time for the Manchester Artists Book Fair last weekend. An edition of 12, viewed here laid out,etchings and letterpress done, ready for folding, plus a few happy accidents.

Manchester Artists Book Fair

I really enjoyed the book fair this year not only for the inspiring talks beforehand, see below, and the feedback from visitors, but also for the brief but lovely conversations I had with a few artists about their practice. They offered useful insights into their own work and in a reflective sense on mine as well. The dedication and discipline of David Barton who works obsessively to articulate the feeling and memory of what a body is in his drawings was mind blowing. It seems to be drawing as a form of meditation on the feeling of being alive within such a vehicle. His books are a wonderful and rigorous testament to his project.  Also, speaking to Elizabeth Willow, the outgoing Hot Bed Press Book Artist in Residence, about spaces, boxes and movement was also exciting and encouraging. Elizabeth is currently making Something Wonderful happen in Lincolnshire.

As for the actual talks, under the banner of Collaboration and the Democracy of the Book, almost everyone spoke about responding to spaces – hurrah! I could say more but I’ll never post this if I try so here are the links to their projects, in no particular order….

Angie Butler and Phillipa Wood

http://www.yourplacemyplaceproject.blogspot.co.uk/

Michelle Rowley’s and Wirral Metropolitan’s collaborations with a university in Utah

http://www.movingfeast.co.uk/

Nancy Campbell’s beautiful work responding to Harbour communities in the Arctic

http://www.nancycampbell.co.uk/

Sarah Bodman’s many collaborations in response to stories and places

http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/saragal.htm

contained water

October 1, 2012

Lake Vrynwy was created in 1881 after the UKs first stone walled dam was built to flood the valley and  the village of Llanwyddn. It was created to provide and send clean water through 68 miles of aquaduct  to Liverpool and Merseyside where the population was growing larger than it’s source of water could sustain.The dam is 44 metres high, 37 metres thick and 357 metres long. A road runs along the length of it that you can drive or walk along. Another village was built to rehouse the villagers that kept the name of Llanwyddn. In times of drought the old village can still be seen.

On the other side of the dam is a sculpture park full of wooden sculptures carved by artists from Wales, Australia and Eastern Europe. Some really lovely pieces.

September 20, 2012

The delights of Portmeirion. A place full of up and down paths, little gaps to squeeze between, framed views and hidey holes. A playground to be lived in.