The Ropewalkers commission culminated with a group show at OSR in October 2016. On display I had some bundles of West Coker flax with hand-cast pewter tokens, a series of eleven drawings taken from the a 19th Century tithe survey of West Coker parish, a hand-made net covered with local soil and an edition of 200 booklets documenting Patches of Blue Sky for the public to take away.
Many thanks to Simon Lee Dicker, Ross Aikten and all at the Twineworks, Matt Ayling and Ann Ball.
Patches of Blue Sky
Patches of Blue Sky is a project to grow flax in West Coker Somerset. Part of the 2016 Ropewalkers Commissions by OSR Projects to create work in response to Dawes Twineworks.
The project aims to connect people and place by re-establishing a crop that was grown for hundreds of years in the local area. Flax was traditionally used for sailcloth and twine, forming the main industry of the West Coker and surrounding areas for centuries, but fell into decline from the 1950's. Dawes is believed to be the last remaining extant twineworks with all its machinery still present.
From February 2016 flax seed was available to anyone who wanted to take part and over 80 people grew the flax over the summer. Many people brought their harvested flax stooks to the twineworks at the harvest event in October.
There is a blog about project which continues to be updated as the flax is processed into twine over the coming months. Flax will be grown again at the twineworks in 2017 and I'll also be presenting the project (and giving out more seed) at Bridport Museums' Ropewalkers Fair next summer.
Image credit: Simon Lee Dicker, West Coker
Image credit: Simon Lee Dicker, West Coker
Image credit: Blair Todd, Penzance
Image credit: Jo Bickerton
Esme's Lesson (work in progress)
In March 2017 I took part in Transition 2017 at Newlyn Art Gallery in Cornwall. It was a really enjoyable and productive week with much work being made and many interesting chats with gallery visitors.
I spent a week in the lower gallery working on ideas for a new installation piece involving a video of a knotting lesson and a sculptural element made from string. The original idea was to film a macramé lesson offered to me by a wonderful lady in her nineties that I met during the flax project in West Coker. This didn't happen before the Transition project so instead I enlisted the help of Richard Hopkins, Secretary of the West Country Knotters. The video shows Richard teaching the technique of tying a bowline knot. The string lines hanging in a circle from the ceiling are a mix of white and ink-coloured pieces of polypropylene cord, only tied using bowlines. The viewer can walk into the knotted enclosure to watch the video and also walk around the whole piece.
I was interested in the idea of learning and teaching a skill, of the movement where a piece of knowledge passes from something you are learning to something you have learnt. The audio was an important element too, the spoken relationship between teacher and learner which accompanies the movement of the hands.
I'm planning to make a second version of this work but looking at lace-making as the subject of the video instead of knot-tying. I'd really lie to explore that intricate craft process and the sense flow that it creates. It was also a very playful studio week and I re-remembered many things I was interested in years ago. Particularly quipus and Polynesian stick charts which I am planning to develop further.
Many thanks to Blair Todd, Richard Hopkins, Jessie Blindell and Ann Ball.
(All photos by Steve Tanner)
Supporting structures of a temporary nature
Supporting structures of a temporary nature was a presentation of new work produced during a residency at the Florence Trust, London.
It comprised an installation involving a series of seemingly fragile wooden shelving, a large variety of collected materials, hand-made netting of cotton thread, living plants and screen prints of fine grid patterns.
In the course of arrangement
An exhibition of new work at Hartington Road, a gallery project in the artist's home in South London, 2013.
Kit of Parts
Strings was a temporary installation created in the dance studio at Atlantic Arts Centre, Florida. The piece was made over the course of the three week residency using string, found materials and handmade objects. It formed an ephemeral visual and tactile diary of time and place.
The photos at the end show the open studio presentation and a series of drawings made on the same residency.