Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The End (of the collaboration but not Estuary Dialogue)

Rick has decided he no longer wants to be a part of the Estuary Dialogue project so it is with great sadness that the collaboration is now finished.

The good news is that I will continue with the Estuary Dialogues project as a solo artist. At this moment in time I have plenty of ideas about ways I would like to take it forward and in the next few weeks I will be planning how I take it into the next phase.

Thank you to all of you have so kindly encouraged and supported the project so far and I hope that you will continue to enjoy the development of the project.

Below are some recent developments where the Estuary Eulogy drawings and texts which I have produced have been applied to hand built ceramic pieces by the reknowned ceramicist, Ken Eastman. These are some early test pieces and Ken & I are keen to explore the cross over between 2D and 3D. We may explore using ready made domestic ware too and I have included some test pieces here on vintage plates.

From Test Images (Eulogy)

From Test Images (Eulogy)

From Test Images (Eulogy)
From Test Images (Eulogy)

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Estuary Eulogies

At the end of November I visited the Thames Estuary site at Cliffe again. It was a cold Wintry day and magnificent for seeing the place in its harshness and greyness. I took a different pathway whilst there without a map and ended up seeing the seawall but not being able to navigate a way through due to the ditches that criss cross the place. I liked being reminded that this place is not easy, has geographical resistors and is not a visitor park with carefully laid down tracks. I spent time just gazing to industry laying heavily on the horizon with a fascinating collection of pipes/chimneys that were stacked together which I began to draw from. In front of me lay an apron of tough marsh grasses and then a smattering of these pipes poked up like a grand collection of organ pipes in a cathedral. Except these emitted no Bach, Mozart or Jeruselum. Far from a 'green & pleasant land' the marsh was soon subjecting my hands and body to the damp and 'rimy' cold. What I kept seeing though was the container ships and oil tankers entering and leaving the estuary. One in particular was piled so high with containers of every colour that I became intrigued upon what was inside the containers or what had been delivered. The sheer volume of commerce in one ship coming into the estuary was incredible. Our hunger for stuff, visually apparent.
Later I ventured back to the car and drove further up the marsh to access the seawall (a tried and tested route without watery traps). There I came across the remnants of consumption; finger prints of our capitalist obsession with possessions. Objects, intact and the remains of plastic and metal corpses lay scattered on this shoreline, brought up by tidal waters. A bereavement for short lives lived, for real lives sacrificed to fabricate these objects. I recorded individual pieces with a camera, plucking out and elevating objects that seemed especially poignant like the single mattress or just odd like the handle of a fire extinguisher.
When I came home to my studio, I reviewed the images from the camera. There seemed to me an immense beauty in some of these objects and their stripping away of manufactured gloss to reveal ugly materials like foam, nylon or plastic tubing. I began to imagine the brief period of use, the owners, the point of rejection when objects ceased to have value or use. I wanted to write obituaries for selected objects. Aiming to re-elevate these objects I wrote eulogies instead.
Each object was translated into a simple line drawing rendered by means of tracing paper on the computer screen. This seemed to me to remove sentiment or my own interpretations. I wanted to achieve a clinical kind of drawing. I've always like the Haynes car manuals and those wonderful diagrams of the casing for the gear box of a Vauxhall Viva or Mini Metro. I then wrote individual eulogies which accompany the drawings. If any emotion or sentiment is present then I wanted it to be through the words. Eulogies would celebrate these objects.

Some images have returned

Some of the images on the blog have returned. Rick and I are still trying to resolve the problem. Answers on a postcard please. Thanks :-) Now I know the official name of these symbols by the way (emoticons). Thank you to Mr Goldsmith for keeping me current.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Images are temporarily unavailable

I am sorry to say that all of the images on Estuary Dialogues have mysteriously disappeared and we are working on retrieving them.
Apologies for this technical blip. Hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Wonderful LV21

This is the wonderful LV21, a retired Lightship now rejuvenated into a floating arts venue. We are hoping to screen the Estuary Dialogues moving image piece here when it is made, in Autumn 2013. I think the space is just so perfect for the work.
The Captains of the LV21, Gary and Paivi have taken this vessel on and are lovingly regenerating and restoring it, preserving the a part of our marine heritage as well as creating exciting spaces and opportunities for contemporary art in North Kent. Moored at Gillingham Pier, LV21 is a sturdy steel riveted vessel with a tardis-like internal space. We visited her in October and Paivi and Gary kindly took us on a tour around the ship. The best part was climbing all the way up a vertical ladder to the actual light itself. Standing inside the glass case for the light, we had a panoramic view of the Medway and could even see Upnor Castle. (O.k., Paivi's coffee was a contender in the highlight section too with introduction to LV21's resident volunteer maintenance mariner, Dave a close third).

Notes on Journeys and Reflections - Jo Roberts and Stephen Turner

UCA Gallery Space
The recent exhibition Journeys and Reflections created by artists Jo Roberts and Stephen Turner in response to a commission from the Kent Architecture Centre was unveiled in the UCA Gallery space in The Pentagon Centre in Chatham in North Kent at the end of October (22nd-27th). Once a beacon of the modern shopping experience, The Pentagon now seems out moded. I used to shop there and never did I think the shopping experience was the pinnacle of capitalist enlightenment that I am sure the architects of the Pentagon had in mind when they designed the concrete arrow of style. Nevertheless, like many such shopping centres from this era, it evokes a nostalgia in me, admiration even. I cannot fail to enjoy this neon stark, retail experience. It's vintage. In this environment a gallery space is a stroke of genius. Artists have a direct connection to untapped audiences, people who may never feel comfortable going to a regular art gallery. They may just be curious enough to come in and engage in contemporary art en route to the toy shop next door. I hope so because the exhibition is all about the margins of life, the beauty and unexpected or overlooked that get caught like flotsam in the edges of places. Roberts and Turner extract these delicacies through hand drawn daily maps (Roberts) and botanical essences (Turner) and encourage us to re-evaluate these places. 'Edgelands...' write Farley and Symmons-Roberts in their book of the same name, '...are not meant to be seen, except as a blur from a car window or as a backdrop to our most routine and mundane activities.' Roberts and Turner have mined this rich, often ignored seam which exists in these edgelands and created work which calls for the senses to take note - to smell, to calculate, to excavate a place off centre, to document journeys or plants. A forensic exploration of a place.
Work by Jo Roberts
Roberts cycled around these fringes of Swale and Medway in Kent asking people where this Urban fringe might be located and subsequently produced hand drawn and painted 70 Maps of the Day. These maps were tweeted daily which I received via my Twitter feed. They were current for a short time on Twitter, soon eaten up by other tweets of chatter. Seeing the collection of 70 Maps hand crafted and of an intimate scale was more beautiful and resonating. On Twitter, the maps were as Farley and Symmons-Roberts noted about the journey through these Edgleland, seen in the 'blur from the car window'. In the gallery space, I had opened the car door, smelt the air (thick with Turner's botanical essences) and seen the fringe. Artists are canny at finding places which are undervalued, grimy: spaces which niggle the obsessive bureaucrats who want to dismantle the uncomfortable truths about the discrepencies of society. These places along the fringes are usually cheap, economically in decline- the scar tissue of constant wounds inflicted. Artists observe though and find value where others see only particles of failings. Turner, like a shaman, has long found the lyrical that exists around Medway and Swale through tinkering with the tricky, the forgotten or abandoned places battered by industry, military or the geographically inaccessible.
Guided by Faith, a fly tipped doll retrieved from Sittingbourne, Turner collected aromatic plants that thrive alongside tips & waste processing plants of the area. Through alchemical processes, Turner collected the individual aromas of specimens which were presented at the opening of the show on Saturday 22nd October to unsuspecting visitors. Like a kind of ad-hoc rogue pharmaceutical company, Turner had created testing stations where visitors were invited to smell these individual aromas and comment on how they made you feel, what they reminded you of and if you liked them. There were cups of coffee grains available to clear your nose from particularly pungent ones and not mash up the essences of these fringe plants. Gathering all of this information, Turner would then select and mix a unique fragrance like a perfumier of the North Kent marshes. The resulting essence is to be named Eau Du Bordure and will be available as a limited edition.
Stephen Turner
This surely is a poignant thing- a scent of a place that will change, will move from borderlands, may be gentrified one day under a canopy of red and buff bricks and promised lifestyles that will teeter along these fringes. The notion of what constitutes the fringe will have been archived for posterity and the hand made maps by Roberts will be charming vignettes of a life that used to exist, briefly, before Boris's army invaded.
Bottles of plant essences collected and arranged by Stephen Turner. Sample of Yarrow, gathered from the Urban Fringes by Turner. Edgelands; Journeys into England's True Wilderness,2011 Farley, P. & Symmons Roberts, M., Jonathan Cape, London.