It’s been a while since I’ve written on my Rizla paper as I promised to do, but I’ve had some time to bring it all together in my head this morning; two routes becoming clearer in my mind as to how to approach making work about the war hospital and the shellshock patients treated there.
Head full of tangents so I feel like I need to write down a list of ‘dots’ that get joined in my work:
- how we interact with a place/ how we leave our mark in a visual or energetic way
- leaving art in places to be found, making the unnoticed noticed, drawing attention/curiosity
- making the space surrounding a drawing important/ locating it within its context
- using transformative processes and accidental markmaking – folding, rusting, decaying, growing
- collaborating and incorporating connections with others; synchronicity
Brindley Village location specifically interests me as it has elements of location (woodland/ habitation/ dereliction/ forgotten) and has the scope for me to look at three specific areas there-
1. ‘HEAL’ WW1 war hospital: memorial, shrine, remembrance, healing, shellshock treatment
2. ‘HOME’ Miners cottages: home, mining industry, community, lost signage – forgotten places
3. ‘PLAY’ School boundaries and playground: growing up, play, security
From these three areas my primary interest is drawn to the hospital – reading about and seeing footage of shellshock has made a powerful impression on how the calm of the area contrasts with these images: Image – video stills c/o biosphere.com
So far on the process that has been developing my practice on the Artist Teacher Scheme there have been many revelations; how fundamental making is to my soul, the importance of connections, the journey of including and disregarding processes along the way, what becomes noticed from the unnoticed.
This month followed a non-month for me and started with a critique of my work from an outsider’s point of view. The same discomfort arose at having work in a gallery space where it feels like it should be in the place that inspired it- and a conclusion that the short video clip made to perhaps explain this held more explanation than the actual pieces of work.
Brindleyvillage1 video clip
And so I am gathering ingredients at this stage, I know that I want to work with transformative processes in this work: rust, moss, hydrochromic ink. Things that will reveal over time. I hadn’t realised the significance of moss until looking this morning at war research – moss was gathered for bandages; another dot joined.
More importantly I’ve been looking at shellshock which is what soldiers at the War Hospital were treated for (against a backdrop of rifle range practice fire!). The combination of audio and visual in these clips is intriguing and something to examine further:
Dots joining again as I consider my interest in healing/ healing a place and using reiki symbols in the work (invisible of course), I then read about the role of Combat Stress in treating PTSD in soldiers here in the UK and that pings to a memory of looking at volunteering with Healing Hands to help with their treatment of servicemen affected locally. The effects of war on the psyche of men in WW1 manifested physically as shellshock led to developments in the medical world. I wonder how this may link to the collective consciousness now as we face more conflict in the Middle East with the recent debate on bombing Syria a sickening realisation that we are disconnected and desensitised. And so the work burrows down to core values and the aesthetics seem to be secondary at the moment, instead I am seeking a cohesion of what matters.
Bo Jones who critiqued my work so insightfully at the start of this month knows that I am fuelled by collaboration; an art ‘Interferer’. I am intrigued to wonder where stepping into the site of Brindley Village War Hospital and feeling its energy will take me next, both personally and with others.
The story behind #printoctober print collaboration with Sarah Wills-Brown:
This is the thought process behind my work: After receiving the printed surfaces from Karen my initial reaction was one of mild shock as they were much more colourful than how I would normally work! I laid them out and later looked at the Salvation Army Citadel photo she had sent me via Twitter. I decided to start by exploring textures of derelict surfaces, combining cut stencils and spray paint with mono printed areas. All good fun and different to recent ways of working, but my love of line was calling to me.
The next couple of pieces explored interconnecting lines and through this texture. I then decided to place stencilled sections of the citadel windows over these and introduce more colour. When the paint was wet I scraped at it with a scalpel, cut into areas, peeled back others revealing areas beneath, all suggesting the way paint deteriorates over time. I decided I needed a 3D format to present the pieces coherently and to work with the idea of painted/printed layers further- inside, outside of a box. I decided on a box which is also easy to lay out as a net shape. I wanted it when flat to echo the frontage of the Citadel building, so on the interior of the box, I added mono printed areas of the arched windows and some of the square metal surface structures. All this time I was thinking about words associated with ageing painted surfaces, so lastly I added a few on the off cuts of Karen’s printed surfaces. These are revealed when the box is opened…