This Spring I went to see Annette Messagers retrospective at the Hayward in London. (For review, see link) I had first been introduced to her work at the Liverpool Biennal and was most impressed by her sense of theatre in a disused cinema. Her use of discarded objects and toys and making them centre stage. I loved the fairytale nature of many of her pieces particularly the coffin-like glass cases of of children’s clothes in ‘Story of Dressses’ and the animated, deconstructed stuffed toys and animals. The movement of shape, texture and colour in her work has this relationship with automata, toy theatre and puppetry in a distorted view of life and death,and all the world.
I also really loved the peep show of ‘the Private Room’ into the private world of scrapbooks and journals, validating my own practice of obsessively collecting and collating images into many piles of books. She has a child like sense of play, finding her identity through role playing the Collector, Handywoman, Trickster, Practical Woman aswell as Artist, and creates her own visual language through her choice of manipulated materials.
‘All artists are tricksters. they take elements of reality and make their own arrangements with them…’
Last Saturday visited the most wonderful Queen st Mill, the only working steam powered mill left in the world.
The sound of the weaving shed with 308 authentic fully working Victorian Lancashire looms is incredible, how people withstood that. Pat told me her sister is deaf from working in the Horrockses shed as a girl. Watching the bobbins and the shuttles moving in the mechanics, the cogs, the pistons, the constant drive to make cotton until ‘cloth by the mile was coming out of the factory’. Regardless of health or safety, the workers called the air filled with cotton dust – ‘dawn’.
Walked around near to the site yesterday with my 5 year old daughter. She reminded me what this is all about really. Its wonderful how she can inherently find beauty in the rubble and waste. She picks a dandelion from the detrius and exclaims how pretty it is. And thats it, making something beautiful out of the remmanants of the site, all the bits left behind, the memories. Talk with Andrew Hobbs, re research and local folklore, have put a call out in the local newspaper for stories but as yet no response. We do this because it is our humanity, to make joy of decay, beauty of barren land, to make art, to express and communicate, things unsaid, forgotten and abandoned. Planning talks with Mr Gillibrand re the fireplace installation in June, and more filming on site
Went to talk with with Pat today at Homebase on her lunch break. Found her in the BBQ section. Looked at the shuttles and Horrockses cloth items, id managed to win on Ebay. She touched the cotton shift and pillowcase and we looked at the quality of the weave in awe. Filmed and photographed some more. She talks of her memories, i listen and try to absorb some of the feeling that seem to be conjured up when we chat of her child hood and working at the Yardworks. She is very spirtual and keeps a lovely sense of humour about life and the universe. She always finishes our chats, telling me how much she can sense the past, and remember, see it how it all once was in her imagination.
Went to the New Continental pub in Broadgate last Wednesday for the first meeting of the Preston bloggers association. There was lots of interesting info on how to do successfull blogging from andy dickinson who teaches online journalism at UCLAN and i had a good chat with him afterwards about using a blog to document and collate information about the site. He suggested, how in itself by blogging this conjures up the site as a virtual space, by being actively present with the archive research and site intervention. So Im more confident this is a good idea to progress with.
For my MA Fine Art – Site & Archive at UCLAN in Preston, I have been focusing on a site specific project which has led me on a journey of uncovering the past, recognising the present and developing the future possibilities of this empty, light industry wasteground. Once, it was the Yardworks, Horrockses & Sons model site of empirical prosperity, a world unto itself inside the high brick wall encompassing the site. Now, all that is left are a few sections of brick walls, maps and a fabulous model of the site at the Harris museum & art gallery. This blog will document and display artworks and interventions inspired by the site in my final year. Aswell as posting information and images, there will opportunities to comment and feedback during the process.