The magic of encounter, the constellations and points of arrival and departure when you weave things together in conversation
I’ve been reflecting and reading about 'creative engagement'. For all the years that I have been able to call myself an artist I have wanted to engage people – take them on a tour or talk to them in the street. In the early 90s I made a lots of street performances that were about talking to people – about things. They would ask what I was doing - usually something strange – and the conversations that ensued would be the real ‘art work’. It was never possible to really capture this process although you could sometimes see glimpses in video documentation or ‘vox pops’ .
Visiting the Hepworth with my granddaughter, we were really taken with the materials they provided for ‘creative engagement’. Together we played with the wood, metal, soft ‘holed’ material that had been carefully designed and provided. The physical engagement with tactile and physical objects that related to the work on show, created conversations and a joint experience and exploration between us.
I also visited Manchester Art Fair and galleries and loved the Promethean vase on display. (Minton vase, 1875-1878) with captives hanging from the top of its beautiful blue Celeste glaze. It reminded me why my small sculpture for Small Promethean Acts reference this classic story: Prometheus stole the secret of fire for mankind. As punishment the gods chained him to a rock and commanded an eagle to peck
Last week the apparition of the ‘Knife Angel’ next to Derby was an example of the ways in which objects can be used to reflect on social and political meaning. As 'social sculpture', the 27 feet high sculpture made from around 100,000 bladed weapons collected in knife amnesties, and created by the British Ironwork Centre with sculptor Alfie Bradley is a stunning and topical National Monument.
Tuesday morning, Birmingham. Bad luck. Someone thought that it would be a good idea to break into my car. They didn't get in. Nothing was taken because there was nothing of value to steal and some of my personal belongings were thrown into the road. I spent the day getting 2 car windows replaced.
Later in the day my disappointment in people became re-enchantment as I talked to Brummies on the bus back to where I was staying. More than 4 people gave me advice about buses and directions, one old lady her life story and the bus driver waived payment for the ride.
I was even happy to find the rock used to break the windows, inside the car. Perhaps an interesting object to make art from? An opportunity to change its story and create a new one?Just as we change our stories about ourselves and our lives, manipulating objects around us can change the
We recently moved to a small village in Cornwall where news and gossip travels fast. One of our neighbours passes our house regularly, stopping we are sure to collect any gossip about us that she can share in the local shop. Since she has a zimmer frame and she moves extremely quickly onto the shop after talking to us, so our nick-name for her is ‘hot wheels’.
We also have meaningful conversations with ‘hot wheels’, as although she plugs us for information we manage to change the subject. One day when she was talking about our new home and how we were settling in, she said “home is where you are understood.”
This evening finding time to relax in front of what I call ‘sad telly’ - there was a scene where the main character returns home and sees the old teapot her mother has on the table. She asks why she still has it. Her mother replies “Nothing says home like that old teapot”.
Visiting Derby Museum and Pickford’s Museum this week, I enjoyed some of the objects and the idea that much of this particular display was selected by people from Derby.
Tim Shore’s exhibition throws up stories in contemplating ‘Derby Meantime’. Little Red Riding Hood in the paper theatre display is a story that is never threadbare no matter how it is multiplied, mutilated and retold. We tell
I travelled home today. I live in West Cornwall, very near Land’s End. At home I gazed at the garden sculpture we inherited when we moved in – the bits we didn’t give away like the dogs and pigs. The classical figures of women with their patina of age have a certain charm though I am seeing them today with new eyes. One of women, their arms alluringly raised, supporting a bird bath, another, a woman in classical dress reaching over. Just like everyone I take for granted that this is the way that sculpture portrays women.
The public sculpture in Derby that I’ve seen so far includes the typical heroic male (Bonnie Prince Charlie) and the charming ‘Boy with a Goose’ but also some women. Unusually the war memorial is a woman holding a baby. War memorials mostly represent those that died, not the women that bore sons who went off to war so it is a touching tribute. I also found Florence Nightingale on the side of a building. I was glad to find these two tributes to women, - even if there are 3 other men commemorated around the opposite side of the building to Florence, reflecting the usual gender inequality when it comes to civic statues.
What is the significance of monuments? Do we think differently about our lives when
Returning to Derby to undertake the Artcore No Matter How Strong Residency I was interested in how I could re-root myself in the landscape of Derby. Having moved from Derbyshire ten years prior the city centre felt full of ghosts; half-forgotten memories and uncanny recollections of streets and other open spaces. As an entry way I began developing a fieldwork method of research. Following routes and pathways through the city I found respite by the river edge and began to think about the intergenerational relationship of early settlers also coming to the river, interacting with the same site and mud, the same material heritage. I went to Derby Museum and learnt through material fragments about early settlers and the development of Derby as a city, how layers of mud have held onto memories. These excavations have enabled us to trace the land through forgotten tools and drawings left in dwellings. As someone who works with clay and pottery, remnants of early pottery vessels connected my process to early ancestors, working through the ground their skills and techniques have been passed down into the way my fingers shape clay today. Metal working further rooted my material practice, connecting my sculptural material to land extraction and alchemy, and closer still to my grandads work at Stanton Iron Works in the 1970’s and 80’s after moving to England. A fragment of a carved monument encouraged me to consider the hands which had so carefully chosen this stone, taken it from the earth and skilfullyRead More