Its funny when you find something you did ages ago and forgotten. I found this on my You tube channel complete with short essay...
If people and their attachment to place is what makes a site a place as
opposed to a space, what happens when the people leave? In my paper
'Should Simulated Environments When Used as Empathic Design Tools be
Considered Spaces or Places?' I explored how sites are given meaning by
people and their interactions with it.
One of the strands I
looked at was how memory and place are intertwined. I photographed the
house I grew up in, just before my family moved out of it. It is odd
looking at images which for me are still loaded with meaning, knowing
that for other people they mean nothing. For the guy that bought the
house, this is how he found it when he moved in... so for him it is the
point at which he started to create his own attachments and 'sense of
I remember the epic task of stripping all the wood in the
house when we first moved there... the smell of hot air strippers
always reminds me of that... the funny people in the grain on the back
of the bathroom door... would recognise that door anywhere... the ridge
on the hallway wall... the view from my bed room window (later my
sister's room where she carved her name in the window sill)... the marks
on the door made by the dog... the kitchen table my sister drew a
spider into... the same table on which we made hot cross buns whilst
watching 'Born Free' on the tv... the pantry that was there and then
knocked down...and how I made ginger beer that exploded and made
everything in the pantry sticky... the arched window through which I
tried to give my then very little sister a snow ball but dropped in down
the back of the tv breaking it...
So I guess all these things do
still exist, but only as Bachelard suggests in 'Poetics of Space' in
our memories.... as for him a house is a container of memories. The
sense of place that we who lived in the house made... each of us having
our own particular sense of the place... are memories because we can't
actually access the site.... if we could access the house, I guess some
of the place attachment would remain even if the house is materially
In recent work, I have been exploring what 'safe', 'unsafe' and the state inbetween them feel like and mean to me. Safe and unsafe ‘spaces’ can be found in our every day experiences. A physical location, a word or a gesture can delineate the transition from feeling safe to unsafe and back again I created a safe/ unsafe space installation in January at Arcade Cardiff. Alongside the installation I also made a dance work exploring how during our everyday interactions we transverse safe and unsafe situations continually.
With art group Space Place Practice, I am developing a work of a group show, The Library of Pilgrimages. For my pilgrimage I want to do a walk and find 'safe spaces' in situ. these may be location or people. Where exactly I will walk, I am not sure. I want to do a circular walk, maybe more than once. I have been thinking about the bracelet of religious medals I made as a child. I gained these medals by reading in church. One of them had a piece of fabric attached to the back of it allegedly touched by the relic of St Terese of Liscieux. I want to weave in the idea of souvenirs of experience into the work…
|'What It Is Rite' in Llangattock Escarpment|
Recently I took a part of an installation I had made, deep underground within a cave. A friend has been making a film in the cave and I went to keep her company. We had been there once previously and I had wandered off down various chambers exploring and trying to make sense of place as she worked.
The cave is accessed through a small hole in the side of an escarpment in the Brecon Beacons. On climbing through the hole you enter a large cavity apparently once used as a church. From this first chamber there are three chamber systems. The chambers (one in particular) is covered in graffiti linking visitors from across the centuries. I am particularly drawn to the polite copperplate writing of visitors from the 18th and 19th centuries. Mainly names and dates. It hints that I am not alone, that I am by surrounded by centuries of fellow travellers. It does not feel like a lonely cold place although in many ways it is.
In another chamber I lie down and squeeze under a large overhang. I turn off the torches and listen. Water drops down the rocks with a regular beat. I discern a further sound, regular and following a slower beat. At points the one becomes the off beat of the other. They play a rhythm together.
I expect that the darkness will be inky and velvety, but it is not. It has its own quality that is tricky to describe. I expect that after a few minutes I will feel panicked but I do not. I feel relaxed. I wonder if this is what being inside a floatation tank feels like. The sensation reminds me of a work I made in 2013 Polar Exploration. In that work I sort to create a neutral space where the senses were blurred through ear defenders, the space smelling of mint and the audience eating a mini Kendal mint cake. Visually the audience were made ‘snow blind’ via the installation being large wendy house structures made of film lighting gel in ‘heavy frost’. Although a space of light, the inability to see or hear properly led the visitors to go inside themselves. It is this quality, that I feel in the cave.
I did a talk yesterday about 'What It Is Rite' and what being safe means as part of International Womens day activity at Riverfront Arts Centre in Newport. It was at the end of a day talks by women with experiences of forced marriage, FGM, bullying, asylum seeking, being shot… all very inspiring and heart warming to hear how these women had survived extreme events.
I attempted to get the audience to make a safe sign with me….
Photo courtesy of Steph Roberts
|Audience made sign added into installation|
|Outside the cave|
|The cave has been used as a church|
|'Tar' like droplets gave part of the cave a sparkly effect|
|On this 1953 map, Maindee features prominantly. The label is far outside what I would consider to be classed as Maindee|
|This 2005 map has the Maindee label in an area I would consider to be Eveswell|
|In this 2007 map, Maindee is close to Woodland Park|
|Where I think Maindee is....|