After a false start my New Expressions 3 New Opportunities Award – supporting artists to make work with museums – is now going ahead.
Earlier this year I was looking intently at the former schoolroom in the attic of the Long Mill (1782-1789) at Darley Abbey Mills, near Derby. For a short time I thought this was it but it turns out it wasn’t and I haven’t been able to include it in the film. But I did do a Pecha Kucha presentation about the relic that is the schoolroom and the veracity of the photograph for the FORMAT 15 Conference at QUAD in April.
These stills are from the Pecha Kucha. In an attempt to fix the pristine digital image I printed the 20 photographs for the presentation on my inkjet printer – as the colour cartridge ran out. Which was good. I then rescanned them for the presentation.
Thanks to Anthony Attwood at Darley Abbey Mills for permission to photograph the schoolroom.
I’m now working with the National Trust to make a film installation called Blind Spot for The Workhouse, Southwell, Nottinghamshire. The Workshouse was built in 1824 and remained in use up until the 1980’s when the site was used for residential care for the elderly. Blind Spot will be projected in a small partitioned room off one of the former dormitories on the top floor of the Workhouse. It will be on show from 24 July to 1 November 2015.
The Workhouse, Southwell
Oakum. One of the many arduous tasks that the ealry Workhouse inmates had to perform was to pick and untwist old tarred rope into individual fibres. Oakum was used to caulk ship’s timbers and lag pipes.
Oakum, junk, caulk, lag.
Christmas 2014. Inspired by Barrie Tullet. Sorry Barrie. And typed very badly on my Smith Corona Sterling ‘Floating Shift’ typwriter. I’m very pleased with the opportunity to apply Tipp-Ex, but can’t believe how badly I’ve done it.
Forge for Derwent Pulse
This is Forge, an animation projection that was shown as part of Charles Monkhouse’s Derwent Pulse event at Darley Abbey, Derby on Friday night (31 October). It was made with my University of Derby colleagues Stuart Poynton and Marc Bosward. Rob and Phil at Derby QUAD provided the projection and the PA system.
We were approached by the Darley Abbey Society, after seeing our previous projection piece at Strutt’s North Mill Belper, to make a short animation work which was looped and projected onto the faces of the Grade I listed Long Mill (1782-89) and the adjoining West Mill (1819-21).
Stuart, Marc and I each made short animation sequences, with a soundtrack by Marc. The animation references the history of water, power, fire and rebuilding that characterises the history of the site. I used and abused letterpress printing I’ve made at the Univeristy of Derby’s printmaking studio. There is a certain joy in seeing little pieces of 30pt Univers lead type (with a x-height of about 6mm) transformed via ink, digits and light into 60 centimetre tall kinetic chaos bouncing across the walls of the mill.
Darley Abbey Mills
College of Arts University of Derby
From Here and There
Three of my ‘Luddite’ series drawings have been selected for the group exhibition From Here & There: Drawings from Colorado & Wales.
The exhibition, curated by Jonathan Powell, director of the Elysium Gallery (Swansea) will open first at the Clara Hatton Gallery (Colorado State University) from 26 September to 26 October 2014. The exhibiton will then travel to Wales for From Here & There: Drawings from the UK at the elysiumoffsite venue ‘The Old Iceland Building’ in Swansea.
The preview is on Friday 28 November and the show continues until 20 December.
The three A2 drawings exist only as Giclée prints (oh the irony). They explores ideas around drawing, work, craft, repetition, copying and the presence and performance of the body in the drawing process.
In making the drawings I set myself rules that I deliberately could not meet. I devised a game that pitched the production of the drawing against factors like tiredness, concentration, measurement and correctness. My methodology was guided by Marina Warner’s writing about play and the haptic qualities of making and experiential learning, and David Pye’s theory of ‘the workmanship of risk and the workmanship of certainty.’
The drawings look like textiles and in a way represent weaving and not weaving. They look like they may be an image of plain weave, but the drawn lines are not actually interlaced and therefore only have the appearance of warp and weft superimposition. The play with production and copying and the removal of the (drawing) hand is further tested by the last iteration of the drawings in their final form as digitally produced Giclée prints.
From Here & There: Drawings from Colorado & Wales
From Here & There: Drawings from the UK
The Print Project
I spent a happy five days last week at The Print Project, Shipley, West Yorkshire, on the Summer 2014 Letterpress Printing Workshop.
The last time I did any letterpress printing was in about 1980 or ’81 at Wolverhampton Polytechnic.
The week was great and really productive. After an overiew of what the Print Project had to offer and an introduction to the basics by Nick we were left to get on with it with Nick offering help, guidance and instruction as we worked on typesetting (wood and metal) and printing while drinking gallons of tea.
I used text from my New Opportunities Award project for content and made a small ‘8 page right-angle fold’ (with a cut) publication, letterpress printed with a wood type on the front (Latin 18pt Bold Condensed) with a wood ornament and a little bit of metal type. And on the back I cast hotmetal 14pt Record Gothic Bold for the headings and 12 and 10pt Garamond for the body copy. Forgot to make a note of the leading (space between between the lines of type).
The hotmetal was cast using the Ludlow hotmetal typecasting system. The type matrices or mats (for casting) are assembled in a stick (below, where you can see the line ‘The Factory Inquiry Commission, 1833.’) which is then slotted into the machine. In the second photo you can see the stick after the type has been cast. Molten lead is fired into the mat and a metal slug with the line of type ready for composing and printing is pushed out of the machine (the third photo).
One of the hardest parts of the week was having to work without a computer.
The hands-on and physical nature of letterpress printing meant I had to work more instinctively, with an idea of what something might look like, because other than sketching it, I couldn’t visualise it precisely as I would do normally with InDesign. The placement of the type on the paper was largerly a process of trial and error as you are working with physical mechanical elements that must be lined up, measured, nudged, and realigned to get – sometimes – only close to what was originally planned.
The Print Project is beside the Leeds and Liverpool Canal which runs through Shipley. I wallked alongside it everyday to and from my B&B at Baildon and these last three images are of other lettering examples from beside the the towpath.
Derbyshire Record Office
A couple of weeks ago I made my first visit to the Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock for my New Opportunities Award (NOA) project. The NOA is for a collaborative project with Strutt’s North Mill Belper to make a series of moving image works that respond to the early history of the site, that will be installed in the museum for Easter 2015.
This intriguing parcel above was part of a number of items described in the online catalogue as ‘Watches, trinkets and other items, belonging to deceased lunatics with no known next-of-kin. Also a snuff box presented to Belper Union by Jack Strutt esq.’.
It proved to be a sad little collection of poor broken pocket watches and rings, which were all individually wrapped and stored in the snuff box.
The objects are from the Belper Union Workhouse, now the Babington Hospital, and in 1946 they were handed to the local authority when the building was transfered to ‘the ministry of Health under the National Health Service Act 1946′.
I’m looking for materials that capture elements of the day to day working lives of the people who were employed by the Strutts and this is clearly at a bit of a tangent to the project, but there is so little material available that speaks of the lives of those people, that I wanted to look at it, even if I can’t use it.
Thank you to the Derbyshire Record Office for permission to publish these images. The document reference number for all items is D19/CW/12/16.
Pillar to Post (and back again)
We were back at Strutt’s North Mill Belper again last week (Thursday 15 May) for a Museums at Night event. This time animation was projected onto 10 of the monumental mill-stone grit piers in the mill’s basement.
The new animation was stripped back to blocks of light and colour with short sequences that responded to the blocky rectangular geometry of the pillars. The animation playback was synched to an audio track using Isadora software. So unlike the last light and sound show – where we had to manual synch the separate laptops – for Pillar to Post the installation’s five laptops and projectors responded to the audio independently of any input from the team (once it had been setup to go).
Visitors were able to walk between the pillars affecting the animation by breaking the projection light beam and changing the animation sequences by adding their own audio in the form of shouting, clapping and stamping.
From Pillar to Post (and back again), animation by Stuart Poynton, Shane Mellor and Tim Shore with sound by Marc Bosward.
Strutt’s North Mill Belper
The Industrial Museum, Bradford and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, nr. Wakefield
Last weekend we travelled up to South Square Gallery, Thornton (nr. Bradford) to collect my installation ‘Place Setting’ which was shown in ‘The Most Beautiful Things Cannot Be Seen’ exhibition.
Then we retraced our steps to Bradford and the Industrial Museum. Which was interesting, especially the detailed self-guided trail explaining the journey from wool to worsted cloth. Also interesting is the monotype typecaster, with its punched role of instruction. Good description here but no pictures!
Then on Sunday after enjoying a view of Bradford’s infamous hole (thank you Westfield) from the window of our room in the Midland Hotel we went home via the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
The second and third images are small details from the very large work of Ursula von Rydingsvard. The lovely shingle, which really was this bleached out colour clads the ‘Eat, drink, Enjoy’ snack shack sitting outside the Longside Gallery where the survey show ‘Uncommon Ground: Land Art in Britain 1966 – 1979′ is currently on.
Uncommon Ground features some lovely Boyle Family work and a surprising Derek Jarman film that reminded me of an early work by Marvin Gaye Chetwynd (formerly Spartacus Chetwynd) called The Walk to Dover (2005) which I saw at Studio Voltaire, Clapham. In that film she performed David Copperfield’s seven-day journey from London to Dover described in the book of the same name by Charles Dickens.
The last picture is of the Emley Moor transmitting station seen from Basket #7.Oxley Bank by Winter/Hörbelt.
Rebirth: light and sound show at Strutt’s North Mill Belper
So the event on Saturday 29 March went well. Sarah (mill manager) and Ruth (engagement officer) reckoned we had about 120 visitors for the show.
While Stuart set up the laptops I measured and cut out film to stick to the windowpanes of the six windows, each window had six panes, so we had to measure, cut and stick 36 sheets. Meanwhile Stuart discovered that the laptops went to sleep after five minutes and we didn’t have administrator rights to cancel the sleep mode.
Still it all worked well. We staggered the startup of each laptop by the time it physically took to get each one going. So a relaxed synchronisation and a kind off delayed playback coupled with running or crawling (in my case) to each laptop to tap its trackpad to ward off sleep. Not live but certainly performative animation happened behind the scenes and largely out of view of the audience.
We are reworking the animation and sequencing for the North Mill’s ‘Museums at Night’ event on May 15. We will project the animation onto eight of the 26 monumental stone piers – all that is left of Jedediah Strutt’s first mill (1786) that burnt down in 1803 – that form the foundation of the ‘new’ mill built in 1804.
More information about Culture24’s national Museums at Night festival here and Strutt’s North Mill Belper