Throughout my life there have been news bulletins, news paper articles, television reports about people who have been disappeared, tortured, kept in captivity, killed. The missing 300 Nigerian girls prey on my mind, as do the more recently missing boys and I feel helpless to effect any change. A friend involved with Amnesty International put out a call just before Christmas.
“I'm sure many of you will have heard about the 43 students from a rural teacher training college in Mexico who were forcibly "disappeared" in September. We are planning a simple symbolic action to maintain awareness of the 43 students. If you could take some ribbon, write the name of one of the students on it along with #43 and then tie the ribbon to a pencil in a simple bow (do as many as you like!) and get the pencils to me by the 17 December (inbox me for address), I'll deliver them to the Mexican Embassy. Thanks!” Sheila Royce
I decided to go along and take part in the #43 intervention, I wrote and tied ribbons around 22 pencils but I knew very little of the missing students’ story. Sheila sent me some further information, which you can read by following the links below.
Over the Christmas period the missing, now possibly dead students stayed in my mind.
I have been making a piece for Gallery 202, The Box Gallery, in a University, a place full of students. I had been collecting materials, thorny rose branches, bay leaves, kid gloves, a mini greenhouse, copper plant tags. I am using found objects and simple, discarded materials to make something that expresses the claustrophobic nature of imprisonment, burial, entanglement and the terrible grief and long term uncertainty that remains for the families an friends left to continue searching for answers.
Some time last year I bought a collection of Victorian / Edwardian kid gloves, which had belonged to women or girls with tiny hands and thin, thin wrists. The feel of the material was very skin-like especially after the gloves had been stuffed with wadding. Some of them were slightly grubby, hands digging in earth sprang to mind. Looking, worrying, waiting, searching, grieving.
I decided to use copper plant tags again to hammer in the names of the missing students, this piece had a very different feel to Singing Ringing and the metal was much harder, each letter needed about three hammer strikes and gave me a lot of time for contemplation.
As my studio is damp and dark at this time of year I had to invade the dining room. I only had the measurements of the box, so there was no way of putting the piece together until the actual day of the installation. I didn't make plans or sketches but I did see what might be possible in my mind but what I am learning is that there is a thrill about introducing collected items to a space and making in situ. A leap of faith.