Thursday, 20 March 2014

A Walk to Remember


SCIBase is a collaborative project between BasementArtsProject, Leeds and the SCI collective based in the Northwest of England. The collective includes members not just from Leeds and Merseyside, but also Sheffield, the Midlands, Sweden and the USA. I donated to their Kickstarter project and was able to send a piece to be included in the Colonized exhibition. 
You can find out more about the project by following the links below
The piece I made is called A Walk To Remember and is based on a walk taken between Knotting and Souldrop in Bedfordshire in 2013. It grew larger than the original size specified in the brief and is A6 rather than A5. 



This was a walk that has stuck in my memory, Souldrop and Knotting are such memorable names. We walked through a muddy woodland path deeply rutted by quad bikes, there were signs of bluebells to come, a bee hive in an oak tree, it was warm and the sky was dotted with small puffy clouds. Dead tree branches stretched dramatically between live trees. We came out into a field and walked down towards a farm. There was some sort of insect nest caught up in a weblike structure, there was a half devoured hare's leg in the middle of the path. 



There was a long walk on pavement through a village before we reached Knotting and our destination St Margarets Church. There was a war memorial, an impressive clock face, cobwebs capturing corners, ancient carvings, dusty light and old warm stones. There was a long walk back through another village which had the largest horse chestnut trees I've seen, all decked out with blowsy flower spikes, deep pink, speckled white. Open windows breathed in the drowsy air. 


We are sun soaked, tired, happy. We catch the Singer treadle gate, the power cable disks, the white doves, the yellow wagtail, the hunting birds, the ancient bomber in our cameras. Our nostrils and clothes saturated by oil seed rape pollen, my whippet picking his way through the sharp, dried bracts on the ground. 


The field seems endless, we pass another dog and walker, smiling, pollen painted. A golden afternoon. A walk to remember the past, wars, countryside, seasons, friends, family, sense of place, the mystery of the unexpected, the busy world of nature, the ground underfoot, the light, the passage of time. A memorable walk, for closeness, for love, for being part of and inside a quieter landscape.



This sense of an older community and quieter time influenced the way I made my subsequent piece of work. I wanted to use some donated woollen fabric, it made me think of tweed jackets, hunting ,  farming and weather. 




I printed the yellow wagtail in blue onto the fabric, added a spare Listen left over from the REFractal blindfolds to the reverse and created a gold silk lining with a frayed edge to the pocket.




On the front I added some saved charms and string,and pinned on a small copper medal embossed with the word Sigh. I recycled a free machine embroidered piece from Invisible Threads - an imagined portrait of a country woman from another time, and backed it with a page from Walks in the Wheat-fields by Richard Jefferies



I made two small books which have photographs from the walk applied to Zoffany wallpaper samples and are backed with a postcard stamp, words and phrases to conjure my imaginings from the day. All of the fabric and papers remind me of the people who donated they and the time they came into my possession. I imagine a young man in the American airforce uniform meeting a girl in one of these villages - our wide skies saw many planes flying overhead during WWII. I imagine him sending postcards to the woman, this piece is her pocket full of memories, an unfinished story, a life cut short perhaps, these words treasured and stored in a drawer in an old mahogany chest, in a bedroom where time paused and passed on. 




You see the contents of the books and read the postcards here

I have more pockets and I'm making a larger intervention to take back to the church later this year as part of a current Back To Books project which will involve a participatory walk.

remember |riˈmembər|verb [ trans. ]have in or be able to bring to one's mind an awareness of (someone or somethingthat one has seen, known, or experienced in the past) I remember the screech of the horn as the car came toward me no one remembered his name.• [with infinitive do something that one has undertaken to do or that is necessary or advisable did you remember to mail the letters?• [with clause used to emphasize the importance of what is asserted you must remember that this is a secret.• bear (someone) in mind by making them a gift or making provision for them :he has remembered the boy in a codicil to his will.• ( remember someone to) convey greetings from one person to (another) :remember me to Charlie.• pray for the success or well-being of the congress should be remembered in our prayers.• ( remember oneself) recover one's manners after a lapse.

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