Wednesday, April 5, 2023

'Borrow Pit' - Huddersfield Art Gallery: Unit 7, West Yorkshire, UK

‘Borrow Pit’ is a term used in construction or Civil Engineering, describing a specified location from which earthen material, such as soil, sand, clay, or gravel, is extracted to be used as fill at another location.

For many years I have been assembling a compilation of visual and conceptual elements and approaches that seem related to, or appropriate for utilisation in, work about the landscape 

Over time, this visual language has been slowly expanding and the variety of ways in which the various elements have been combined and juxtaposed has been increasing. 

I now see this visual lexicon of components as a borrow pit, from which I am able to source materials for current and future work.

An exhibition of work by members of the Yorkshire Sculptors Group, using 'Borrow Pit' as a working concept, will open to the public at Huddersfield Art Gallery on 12 April 2023 and there will be a Private View on Saturday 15 April from 1:00-4:00pm within the temporary exhibition space, Unit 7 (opposite the main gallery building that is currently closed for repairs), Piazza Shopping Centre, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK.

'Borrow Pit' Invitation

The piece I am exhibiting in Huddersfield is an expanding work that will continue to grow, increasing in size and complexity into the future. The ground has been broken, the foundations laid, and construction initiated. From this stage, it is the work itself that will oversee and determine the future progress and direction of the piece.

Installing the work at Huddersfield

'Breaking Ground', 2023

A video taken during the installation of the work can be viewed here.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

'20 Minute Diameter Leeds' - Terminalia Festival 2023

 As part of 4WCoP 2022 (Fourth World Congress of Psychogeography), Mathilda Guerin created a project entitled 'Walking Webs', inviting people to participate by creating a walking web of their own city and I created my own walking web in Leeds, my home town in the UK. 

My walking web was created, according to the supplied instructions, by walking from a selected starting point, North, South East and West. Along each of these axes, we were asked to walk for 10 minutes and 20 minutes respectively and to take a photograph at each of these points. It was then possible to connect up all four of the 10 minute points and also the 20 points.

My walking web, and the photos taken after walking for 10 minutes and 20 minutes can be seen here:

Walking Web showing the Starting Point, 10 Minute and 20 Minute Points

Walking Web showing the photographs taken at all the points

I try to participate in the annual Terminalia Festival each year and so for the 2023 edition I chose part of the walking web I had created previously as this conveniently marks out an area of the city with a perimeter roughly 10 minutes from the centre.

On Thursday 23 February 2023 I started walking from the northern point, close to the College of Building on North Street, walking clockwise. 

North to East Section

North Street - Byron Street - Regent Street - Hope Road - Mabgate - St. Mary's Street - Rider Street - Burmantofts Street - Marsh Lane

Millwright Street, just off Hope Road

Sheepscar Beck (or Mabgate Beck), before it becomes Lady Beck

Grade II listed Hope Foundry (1831-1850), a former brass and iron foundry

St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, Grade II listed

Pedestrian Crossing to Quarry House, Department of Health

East to South Section

Marsh Lane - Crown Point Bridge - Crown Point Road - Great Wilson Street 

Car park entrance / exit on Marsh Lane, not far from the old railway station

Penny Pocket Park, previously St. Peter's Graveyard

River Aire, looking West from Crown Point Bridge

South to East Section

Great Wilson Street - Water Lane - Wharf Approach - Leeds Liverpool Canal Towpath - Whitehall Waterfront - Whitehall Road - Northern Street

'Hello Friends' by Bryan and Laura Davies, 2007. 
Inspired by Brancusi's Endless Column, 1937 and installed inside Bridgewater Place

Glimpse of the beautiful grade II listed 'Verona' Tower (based on the Lamberti Tower in Verona), originally built as dust extractors for the nearby steel pin factory, the first of the three Italianate towers to be built on the site that is rapidly becoming the new 'Tower Works' residential development

Another view of River Aire, this time looking South West from the new bridge linking Pocket Park to the Whitehall Riverside Terraces

East to North Section

Wellington Street - Britannia Street - York Place - King Street - East Parade - Victoria Square - Calverley Street - Great George Street - Cookridge Street - Merrion Way - Lovell Park Road - Grafton Street - North Street

Inexplicably ignored and unattributed artwork by Joseph Beuys, outside Leeds Art Gallery & Henry Moore Centre, part of his 7,000 Oaks work.

Leeds Owls on parade along the Calverley Street facade of Leeds Central Library

Colourful objects sit playfully in Lovell Park, previously a cattle market (c.1860)

This one-day Festival of Psychogeography has been held every year on the 23rd of February since 2011 and brings together individuals and groups who mark the Festival of Terminus, the Roman god of boundaries and landmarks.

Previous walks for Terminalia:

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Sheila Hicks at The Hepworth - Wakefield

Earlier this year I was in Wakefield, West Yorkshire to install a piece of work within the Cathedral as part of the exhibition 'Assembly' (read more about this here), and while in the city I walked down the road to the beautiful Hepworth Gallery to see an exhibition by the US artist Sheila Hicks. I have been aiming to write a short piece about the show but one thing led to another and one project after another drew my attention until now when, sadly, the exhibition is no longer running. Nevertheless, I felt that her work deserved a few words.

Sheila Hicks (b.1934) has devoted her life to the study of textile and fibre, travelling from the US, throughout Latin America, Morocco, the Middle East, India, Japan and France where she now lives, still working. Everywhere she has travelled, she has learned from and collaborated with the artists and craftspeople she has met along the way.

She studied at Yale University while Josef Albers taught there and was influenced by the ideas of George Kubler, who published The Shape of Time a few years later.  

Later, Sheila Hicks began to incorporate found objects into her sculptural work on a large scale, frequently working with local communities, reflecting the shared collaborative experiences she had gained years before.

This exhibition presents a clear introduction to her work, starting with simple notes, tests and experiments to demonstrate her thinking process and the exhibition goes on to show her innovative approach to materials.

It is obviously too late to see this show now but I would recommend looking out for future opportunities to experience her work in person, no reproductions could adequately reproduce the scale and the physical impact the work makes, however I now present a few photos I quickly took in the short time I had at the Hepworth before I had to leave to catch my train. 

Monday, October 17, 2022

'Soanyway', Issue 13

It was such a thrill this month to see my work included in the latest edition (#13) of 'Soanyway' - the magazine edited by Derek Horton and Gertrude Gibbons.

Issue 13 of Soanyway, featuring the stunning image
by Maria Garton

Six episodes of the performance 'No holiday'

The theme for issue 13 is Walking, which is a current preoccupation for me and so it was particularly enjoyable to be able to share my ongoing performative project 'No holiday'. 
I would highly recommend reading this issue and past issues of this excellent magazine.

Read the current issue #13 here.

The Soanyway website landing page can be found here.

My previous contribution to Soanyway was the cover image for issue 12 and can be seen in context here:
The relevant blogpost can be viewed here.

The six featured episodes of No holiday in issue 13 can be viewed at the following links:

Norwich, UK - 2021: Editing in progress.

Danes Dyke, UK - 2022: Editing in progress.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

'Contingent Cartography' at 4WCoP 2022

For 4WCoP 2022, held this year on Sunday 4th September, the proposed project was entitled 'Contingent Cartography' that, similar to last year's 'Experience Mapping' Project, aimed to record the collective experience of participating in the congress.

Congress logo

This year events took place throughout the summer instead of merely within the designated weekend. Last year, participants were invited to send photographs that had been taken during congress events or during the journey to and from those events. Following last year's experience of translating the submitted photographs into drawings prior to their integration into the combined map, it was decided that participants would be invited to send hand-drawn maps that had been created in relation to some of the events occurring during the summer. In this way, it was hoped that more of the participants work and direct input could be transmitted into the final map and would, therefore, be more of a collaboration.

Contingent Cartography: Project description

The three submitted maps (ranging from abstract, to detailed, and to painterly) were deconstructed into component parts so that they could be more easily integrated with each other using ai. The final work combined all three images and was influenced in its nature by those same constituent maps. Unlike last year, which had been a logical and quite linear set of instructions (albeit instructions to walk within a non-existent, virtual environment), this year's final map was much more abstract, with no discernible start and finish. Anyone using this map could choose their own starting point, and destination and could interpret the directions in whatever way they felt the most interesting. 

Final Map

The project was presented on Sunday 4th September, online, and a recording can be viewed below, or on our YouTube Channel here.

Project presentation

Friday, August 19, 2022

'Sleep in Witness' at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK

 The presentation of work entitled 'Sleep in Witness' by South African artist Lungiswa Gqunta opened at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds on 8th July and runs until 30th October.

The three rooms have each been treated as an installation, with a single work taking over each space as Gqunta continues to examine how colonialism has restricted and curtailed traditional knowledge systems.

The leitmotif running through this exhibition is water and this recurs constantly through the show in different forms and incarnations. As is described fully in the accompanying catalogue, water stands as a powerful symbol of destiny, for both the regenerative life and development of the region, but also for the terror and suffering inflicted upon people of the region, terror and suffering that came to the shores of Africa from overseas.

The first room of the exhibition opens suddenly before us as an earthen plateau composed of clay and sand, mostly flattened but also featuring cracked lumps seemingly descending into a state of higher entropy. Placed at intervals throughout the space are globules of blown glass in blue, purple and clear examples. The shapes of these globules are irregular, suggesting the liquid state from which they came and also referencing 3D pools of water, somehow remaining on the surface of the sand and clay. 

Lights shine on these glass globules increasing our awareness of their smooth, fragile surface and assisting in their likeness to water pools. The smooth nature of the glass globules seem to emphasise the gritty nature of the sand beneath them, while the sand and dry, cracked clay in turn emphasise the smooth, fragile surfaces of the globules.

As visitors walk around the room, their weight compresses the sand and clay, breaking down lumps and often cracking the surface. As we appreciate the installation, we also assist in the increasing entropy. Areas of the room begin to appear smoother, as the sand and clay begin to combine to form a hard surface as the soil of a countryside footpath hardens and smoothens over time due to the use it experiences and as the soil dries out. It is as if the nature of the materials slowly changes over time.

Zinodaka  2022 (Detail)

Zinodaka  2022 (Detail)

Zinodaka  2022 (Detail)

Zinodaka  2022 (Detail)

The second room changes dramatically once we enter it. The sensation is akin to walking across a beach towards the sea edge, where large waves crash down onto the sand. Walking into the room feels as if the visitor is being enveloped by waves crashing around them. We negotiate the waves by walking through the open spaces left for visitors to explore the remaining space of the room. Once we are accustomed to this division of the room's space, it is possible then to focus on details of the wave structures, barbed wire, wrapped in fabric dyed three shades of blue. The shape barbs are a warning that though these may be waves crashing onto the beach, they are also a barrier, we are unable to enter the water. 

Here and there it is possible to pick out small collections of silver coins, hanging amid the waves. Are these coins the flotsam from some shipwreck or could they be offerings cast into the sea from the beach? 
It is also possible to identify orange threads hanging within the wave structures, the orange resonates against its complimentary opposite - the blue of the wave, increasing their visibility. Could they be signals, or way-markings? Or are they further items of flotsam being tossed around randomly in the turbulent sea? 
As the visitor reaches the far side of the room, rhythmic song can be heard from the third room. The song draws the visitor towards the final, small room and there is the definite sensation of having crossed a barrier, overcome an obstacle, reached a destination. 

Ntabamanzi  2022 (Detail)

Ntabamanzi  2022 (Detail)

Ntabamanzi  2022 (Detail)

Ntabamanzi  2022 (Panorama)

After the physicality of the previous two rooms, the final room feels like a refuge. A bench allows the viewer to sit and relax while taking in the HD video. As the rhythmic singing drifts through the space, large cream-coloured sheets appear to billow in the wind. After a few seconds there are glimpses of figures who seem to be manipulating the sheets, perhaps communally drying them? This work reflects upon the ritualisation of repetitive, domestic activities such as washing and folding sheets on Sunday afternoons in South Africa.
The sheets also resemble waves or even ships' sails being buffeted by the wind. The poetic, sensitive way that this exhibition has been constructed and curated continually throws up metaphors such as these. 

Gathering  2019 (Photo of Video Projection)

This is an enjoyable show and well worth the visit. A lot has been condescend into a relatively small exhibition. 

There are some free research events organised to coincide with the exhibition:

A panel discussion on Wednesday 28 September at 6pm / An exhibition tour on Wednesday 12 October at 6pm / and an online conversation event with Lungiswa Gqunta and Melanie Keen (Director of Wellcome Collection) - date to be announced. Book your place here.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

'Assembly' - Wakefield Cathedral, West Yorkshire, UK

The term 'assembly' could be used to describe a group of people gathered together for a common purpose, or a set of components that could be combined into a larger, loosely or tightly integrated object or relationship. 

At Wakefield Cathedral, the term was used to describe the collection of work submitted from 16 members of the Yorkshire Sculptors Group. Each piece of work sought to respond to, blend in with, or even react with (or against) the beautiful cathedral. 

'Assembly' - Wakefield Cathedral
Exhibition Poster

Following on closely from the exhibition at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley, a piece was created specifically for the cathedral environment and, in particular, for the north-east corner of the building. The grid formed by the stone floor, the masonry blocks of the walls and especially the memorial plaques attached to the walls at regular intervals were the inspiration for the white relief panel that was created for this exhibition and presented on a simple, wooden easel.

The colours that are usually such a feature of the 'District 7' panels were in this case erased, leaving a monochrome surface of painted wood and mdf squares that emphasised the undulating surface of the work.

Once installed, the piece seemed to work well in the environment. What was not anticipated was the incredible luminosity of the work as the sun traversed the building through the day and eventually focused a glorious shaft of light onto the panel. It is always a pleasure to discover an accidental quality such as this, one that renders the work in a far more sympathetic way than was ever planned or hoped for. 

I would recommend a visit to Wakefield to see this exhibition before it closes on 29th August 2022. There are many other wonderful works to investigate, sited throughout the interior of the cathedral, some of which are discreetly hidden, awaiting discovery.

A pdf of the exhibition catalogue can be viewed here.

The Yorkshire Sculptors Group website can be found here.

'District 7, 11x8, White Relief', 2022
Installed in the North-east corner of the Cathedral

Closer view of the work

'District 7, 11x8, White Relief', 2022 - Detail
(Photo courtesy of Vincent James)

Wakefield Cathedral in all its glory