Thimblemill Swimming Baths Residency An investigative project mapping this 1937 Art Deco swimming baths with its multi layered history of ballroom dance competitions, live music in the 50's and 60's (The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks) and 2WW air raid shelters in the labyrinthine like basement. There is a large main pool which is the original one, with a smaller one added on in the 1960's. The swimming pool is due to cease its leisure activity in the next few years and the management are keen to capture and record the essence of the swim centre. It is envisaged that a book will be produced consisting of photography, text/poems/writing and other. Ideas are also developing to hold a live performance in the pool area, working with a local classical community choir. The building is believed to have paranormal activity and regularly holds Ghost/seance evenings in the basement of the building; (which I received an invitation for) these are driven by apparent paranormal sightings in the building over the last 40 plus years.
A Moment in Time Following on from readings of Eyal Weizman's 'The Least Of All Possible Evils' with particular interest in the idea of architecture used as military strategy, manipulative and provocative in its intent I began to work on ideas for circular sequences, the body kept or held in a continuous loop. A vacuum of sorts perhaps but also the idea of repetition of action, closely monitored and directed, repeated over and over. Control and power also featured in the thoughts. Utilizing a disused dance studio I filmed (through a full length wall mirror, a repeated circular sequence of tap dance movements of a constant forward tapping and backward tapping, it beginning with arriving and putting the shoes on and ending with taking the shoes off and leaving the space. The circle is guided by the numbers one to five, whereby on 'five' I would be allowed to move into the center of the circle, then immediately retreating to continue with the rest of the circuitous sequence. Rhythmic, echoing, with other sound bleeding in from behind the thin wall (the small swimming pool) muffled and indecipherable. A small exert has been taken from this footage as a starting introduction, it reveals an arrival then a point of meditation, of disassociation, splitting off before a slow slow retreat from that space of thinking. Other areas which prompted interest while editing this footage included the 'tap' sound of the metal tap of the toe and heel on the shoes, on wooden floors, in a space of hard edges, mirror, glass, metal, nothing to absorb the sound, therefore it bounces around the room. Slowed, it reverberates and echos back on itself.
Text Print: Every day she repeated the same thing. Exploring traditional text printing and appreciating the slow and minute processes involved. Suitably time consuming and meditative. Exquisite 'furniture' wood and metal blocks, lead letter stems, long handled tweezers, and precise measuring and placing and enticing. The shades of industrial grey's and graphite saturate with dirty textures in contrast with the pristine-ness of the soft cream textured print paper at the end of the process. Plans for larger letter blocks (wooden) to be used, poetry, word, stories set down on these delicate surfaces, indefinite and unique.
Prefab 'Airey' houses: 14 Cragg Road and Others. An ongoing exploration into the history of the 'Airey' prefab house, originally designed by Edward Airey. Post war housing in the uk; much of which has been demolished although pockets of the Airey houses still exist mainly in rural areas. Areas of interest are perhaps focused on themes around 'home', sense of presence, loss, melancholy, retracing or re finding, chasing ghosts (and putting them to bed) combined with particular architectural spaces and/or details, segments of structure and spaces; how we might grasp them and re-alise these. A childhood of 18 years spent living in an Airey prefab on the North West Coast of England gave me memories of fine detail of the domestic/living spaces and the outer buildings too. Out house, wash house, back spot (utility space) play room and outside toilet all held fascination. Interior features such as door frames, under stairs and airing cupboards, together with electric ceiling heaters (bathroom), calor gas and electric blow heaters, metal framed windows (single frame), creaking landings and paper thin walls all play a part in this investigation. There is a plan to track and scan existing Airey prefabs in the uk. Record and analyse, collect stories, filter and sift through these, collected documentation, demolition orders, articles and any other relevant found traces. There is also some fascination with the history of how the family photo's were taken; featured here are just some of those taken outside my own family home mainly in the 70's with a couple from the 60's. To be taken at the front of the house appeared to be the preferable space, more respectable than the 'back garden' with it's usual line of washing blowing. The front of the house was tidy also, neat, with it's singular rose bush and medium hedge, the red brick wall replacing the old fence.
SLAG (heap) A term which was used for the spoil or slag waste of mining process on the landscape, 'slag' manifested in large scale slabs of waste rock or 'overburden' removed during coal and iron ore mining. Other terms used for this include; spoil bank, boney pile, gob pile, bing, batch, boney dump or pit heap. A regular play area during my childhood was spent around the slag heap. An otherworldly landscape of large chunks of pitted rock, often circular with flat top and bottoms of usually at least 1 metre in diameter and height, shades of grey's, white's and black these were sometimes graffitied with A for Anarchy inside its circle, drawings of giant phallus and messages of love. These giant sculptures were stacked on top of one another, covering a hill and dropping down to fields below and beyond. They would be warm to touch and concealed many deep crevices which we would secrete our small selves in, without ever a thought that we may be crushed by these things. It felt a place of safety, as though it had been there for ever. It was ancient yet brilliantly futuristic. Only succumbing to development last year there are now large 4 bedroom red brick houses on the site; originally opposed by the surrounding community/council estate, who had apparently grown fond of their lunar landscape, development went through nevertheless. I would like to look further into what happened to these giant boulders of my childhood, the chances are that they were crushed to dust and shoveled away. There are I feel many stories also to be collected from the community about the Slag. With thoughts of the Slag in mind, I have worked on small plaster multiple sculptural pieces, experimenting with crushed charcoal. Seduction for the materials used is high but not part of the original aim. Creating miniature versions of 'something' has been a recurring theme in previous work, perhaps in order to 'see' or visit the thing or place again. More research needed. I am also working on a quite beautiful model of a pre fab house; it isn't an Airey as the council houses close to the Slag heap were of a newer nature with their posh pebble dash and blow vent central heating system but it seems fitting that the pre fab plays a part somewhere on this landscape.
Loss and The Beauty of Recovery Following on from writing ‘An undulating terrain and the Painful Pleasure’ for the Contemporary Philosophy module,I was reminded of my interest in the themes of Loss and Melancholia, further inspired by Freud’s ‘Mourning and Melancholia’ I began to develop a new piece of work; Loss and the Beauty of recovery. Following a conversation with an individual ‘E’; someone I had only just met; she disclosed to me the previous loss (death) of her child, a baby. Some days following this I contacted her and explained that If she was interested, I would like to film her talking about this loss. E said she would be happy to do this and also said her partner would be interested to do this also; telling the story from a man’s perspective. I met with E and her partner in their home and we discussed a variety of things including making work, and loss of things and people. I also discussed what I hoped to do, how I might use the work in the future (with their permission) and we completed the relevant University ethics forms and participation consent forms. I have booked St Gregory’s hut for the filming; a space somewhat stuck in time, in a good way, 1950 community hall, static caravan, scouts hut. Simple, lots of wood, cream and green painted panels, wooden floors and beams, lot’s of small windows, net curtains, a place of balanced proportions. Lots of very beautiful wooden chairs and south facing, beautiful light.
28th Jan 2017-04-27 10.00a.m – 2.00p.m
E: First participant.
Second participant (E partner) has decided not to take part in the filming.
The filming went well with E: producing a constant monologue of their experience. At certain points I felt like E: was an actress; not in the sense that I didn’t believe what they were saying wasn’t true but perhaps that it felt even more authentic; that the story was told with such honesty and conviction, openness and also beauty in that openness.
I also took quite a lot of footage of the insides of the building itself; doors, windows, floor, chairs, light; this space of transitory experience with its flowered curtains and lace curtains; creating a sense of the domestic yet transitory with it’s inhabitants only ever staying on a temporary basis. The stripped back qualities of the space were/are essential for this subject matter; a mindful focus needed yet a safe space also.
We lived there for four hours; we ate, we had tea, we used the kitchen, we talked, we sat, we walked around we put the heating on and off, we also cried.
The filmed footage and audio is yet to be edited.
The Substance of Surface Underfoot Stemming from the recent written piece, 'A suitably cheap and docile workforce/Codependent relationships between large Industry and rural community' I was beginning to be led into other related areas such as geology, Nuclear Science/Fission/atom splitting, the 'sublime' (reading Kant's work in particular) Milton's Paradise Lost, Greek mythology's 'Asphodel Meadow's' and returned to look at the work of Hamish Fulton and Arne Ness while stepping into the writing of Robert Macfarlane's 'Landmarks'. All are a reminder of the apparent methodologies which are the central drivers in my exploratory work; the need to explore, to find, collect, salvage and cherish, the performative nature of total sense of physicality with the landscape, whether that is urban or rural, that connectivity and sensitivity, a type of physical listening, watchful and patient. These images are part of a series taken in the UK Lake District, April 2017 , an area some 450M in height, an interest in colour, shape, direction, history and geology, these natural sculptural forms are constantly being remoulded by man made impact of various depth(s) the material holds a fascination for me for the ancient yet scientific quality. They are for me full of substance and of a past present and future.