Artists responding……

So responding to a call out for artists responding to under reported issues concerning the world we live in I sent images and words to https://www.artistsrespondingto.co.uk/zine

Looking at others accepted for issue 7, I felt the need to celebrate visual language and thank Polly Bates for her commitment.

Right now I am wrestling with my own carbon footprint, images to follow

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96 sheet billboard

Exploring housing, homes and environment.

I fiddle around with numbers of sheets forming a 96 sheet billboard trying to scale it into a manageable form and discover something new

Clearing out old drawings, made by hand on a parallel motion drawing board. Drawings made for this one and that one, I have used what is now scrap paper to explore the issue of building homes, either from new or through conversion and re-furbishment. Somehow using these scraps of paper, left over work begs a discussion about attitude to the subject.

drawings and images created by Gil, a life’s work

many lives affected

An exploration of 96 sheet billboard

jobs made

Financially cheaper but at what environmental cost?

Simpler perhaps but with what regard to finite resources?

Quicker for now………….

lives affected

jobs made

and

unmade

all about home

for individuals

living alone

and together

and

unmade

all about homMust we always have new? it may be easier but must be wasteful?

for individuals

living alone

and together

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trees and how I fell in love

Where to go? where to find some calm understanding? the confusion of teenage life!

But the oak tree knew. Knew what? I am unsure but certainly something. It s rough bark, the uncomfortable roots that I wriggled my bottom into. Its shady architecture and protective shadow shielding me from eyes out there in the bright light.

Where to go? where to find some calm understanding? the confusion of teenage life!

But the oak tree knew. Knew what? I am unsure but certainly something. It s rough bark, the uncomfortable roots that I wriggled my bottom into. Its shady architecture and protective shadow shielding me from eyes out there in the bright light.

50 years later I look across to a group of those lofty members that typify  British woodlands, now standing lonely in a field providing shade to those that stop their offspring re-populating the landscape- sheep. That shifting sheep shadow of white following the orbit of the sun , individuals each taking turns to be an edge guardian as the shade moves.

In looking to understand  a sense of belonging defined by separation,  trees appeared on the page, asking me questions, inspiring reflections, offering themselves as material and subject, joining me up.

Like the sun and moon

What do they mean for you?

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Climate of care and sometimes the lack of it

I am sliding around, wrestling with the slippery subject of care, or the lack of it. Right now it is about the issue of homelessness.

I have been trying to understand how it is that over 450,000 homes are standing empty.

I started to think that some of this was due to the inequitable laws around VAT. They are a minefield but can be understood a little by looking at Terri Bruce – Renovate Me Contributor.

Then I read about the market forces that operate to favour wealthier people who use land as a banking resource, parking their capital on it without actually allowing it to offer the opportunity for the creation or, more usually the renovation of existing housing stock.

Then I had a conversation about the loss of income to local authorities when the right to buy council owned housing was created by Margaret Thatcher. Councils were not allowed to receive the monies for the properties they created for local housing.

And I dared not look into the laundering of monies by buying property that leave great cities like London full of empty property and create a situation were those who might service the needs of these buildings are forced out to the suburbs.

Finally I really wonder at the proposed relaxation of planning law relating to building on the Green Belt.

All this in the face of the fallout from

Covid19

behind which is

Brexit

behind which is

Climate Change

Then I wonder about

WASTE?

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Thinking about the words we use

Social distancing

Self isolation

shielding

lockdown

I cannot work out which is more disturbing – I have a morbid dread of being wrongfully imprisoned, shut in by walls, cut off from human contact, warmth of love, of quiet fresh air and the sounds of life growing and going about the business of living and dying,

or the fear of others rejecting physical contact

Words have power beyond the letters from which they are formed, interpreted by each of us according to our private and internal codes.

If I learnt anything from being alongside people with a diagnosis of dementia it was that they often spoke or acted out truth that seared through my confusions. Right now maybe that world of dementia has something more to teach……………………

This is an image of me drawn by Roy

Pip by Roy 2

and this is an image of Roy drawn by me with his images alongside

Pip by Roy & Roy by Pip  April 12

what I saw sits on a surface, what he has drawn digs deeper It is a useful reminder to revisit learning and experiences.

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Riches found while having a clear out

I am clearing things out of my studio. Preparing for something, perhaps new work, perhaps a change or just because it might clear my mind.

I have files of things, images, pieces of text that inspired me or in some way caught my attention. They get pushed into a ‘resources file’ and are often forgotten so clearing out is an opportunity to revisit these scraps that have blown my way.

One of the people who has had most influence on me as an artist was my tutor at Queen’s Road, Peter Watson. When I completed my part time certificate course we had a massive meltdown. something I regret and have subsequently attempted to repair.

Peter taught me so much, influenced my approach and informed my thinking. His words remain important now as they were 30 years ago. Here are some of them.peter Watson 1

peter Watson

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Visibility

Working with colleagues ‘ Sparrows’, Kirsty Claxton and Elizabeth Adeline, we have begun an exploration of the place of photos in creating work.  Tied to the images we created a list of words between us and then focused in on one through an the invitation to explore a word ‘pregnant’ with meaning. I failed to find the image that first sprang into my mind. The photo I chose responded to initial images that had accrued from the previous cycles of exchange. It was my parents wedding photo.

On a wedding occasion, on the steps of the Marylebone registry office, you would be pretty visible.

But in choosing to settle with the word ‘visibility ‘ I find myself continuing exploration of identity. Somehow my sense of visibility is inextricably bound to identity: visibility goes straight to the heart of all that I aim for as an artist in making my work. Revealing something essential, something not always immediately obvious, articulating identification.

Today I had a conversation about colour. It led to me explain the endeavour in making my work ‘Marking a Point’. There I was try into find new language for public political debate, language that would relate to those living far from the capital Cardiff where the Welsh Assembly public debates are held. I wanted to see if colour from around Wales had its own resonance in articulating marks made listening in the debating chamber.

Looking for some sort of ‘truth’
Marks that might resonant just as they are
in a language that is other than words

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So where in the order of life does Covid 19 belong?

  • Forms of life get very small, I am unsure but I think that viruses are the smallest. Strands of ribonuclei acid , RNA,wrapped up in a coat to protect themselves when not happily reproducing in some other living organism. So here is a highly magnified image I found on the internet

RNA_Seq_lead copy

What do I know about this Covid 19?

  • As viruses go it is quite large and heavy reducing the distance it can easily travel through air
  • It invades lung cells of humans where it happily reorganises things so it can reproduce itself. I think it kills the cells it invades, taking over the reproductive mechanisms of the cell to make more of itself.
  • It has swept across the world getting into human bodies via their mucous membranes in noses, mouths and eyes .
  • It gets there in a droplet of moisture coughed or sneezed by an infected person, landing on a surface where another host human transfers it to their mouth or nose or eyes where it can move in our mucous off into lung tissue
  • Lots of people get infected and survive after an unpleasant time of fever and coughing
  • Some people die
  • The mathematical models indicate that the rate of spread is fast because every one person can infect three others, those three then infect another three each and so on
  • Reducing physical contact slows the rate of infection, the virus has nowhere to go
  • ‘Lockdown’ has been effective in slowing infections
  • But ‘Lockdown’ is creating more problems both now and almost certainly for the future

 

Things that are changed

Our behaviour towards one another, can we care, can we still find ways to communicate, touch and soothe?

Or are we gradually seeing the fault lines opening both at an individual and social level?

Our attitude to some of the lowest paid workers in our societies, people who keep us clean, help us when we are ill, care for us in old age and often when we are very young, move us around on public transport, grow and deliver our food, keep the lights on and water running, bins emptied and sewers unblocked, bury the dead and deliver the newborn, the list is long, people on it invisible,  until they are not.

Like that tiny virus

So how am I going to live with the fear of dying? As I write that I think it sounds like an oxymoron. I know that being alive means that I have to die.

and the economy

This seems even harder to unpick. If those with wealth have 42% of it from private pensions where did that money originate?

Somehow the conversations around fairness and furloughing, value and money, money and wealth, education, inheritance and upbringing merge into a tangled web.

A little like the tracing the spread of that tiny virus.

What steps do I need to take to untangle the knots?

Each one of us may have a different answer

Right now we are denied the chance to physical sing, dance and feast together

Right now some people are working in difficult conditions, with lack of sleep and lack of solace

Right now new connections are being made

Just like that tiny virus

 

 

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Touch

So I am exploring our human relationships through touch. Using the difficult, fragile and unpredictable medium of china clay I invite people to hold my hand. effectively we are making some kind of ‘clay shake’.

Originally my interest stemmed from a consideration of care, care between two people. In these times of fear and the unknown behaviour of corona virus an exchange between two people involving holding hands seems ever more important. On BBC Radio 4 Today  program the Thought for the day last week spoke about the origin of handshakes, offering an empty hand holding no weapon, how tragic if our hand holding is now perceived to potentially operate as a threat?

Today my friend and neighbour gave me an hour of her time to sit and hold hands while our hands were interleaved with thin china clay. During our first hand holding our grasp felt uncomfortable, awkward and slightly self conscious. We drew with our free hand whether it was the dominant one or not.

In our second hand holding we first discussed how she may have held her late husband’s hand. Somehow we found both a more comfortable and satisfying manner to hold each other’s hand. We did not draw but talked instead of the importance of touch and of behaviour studies when it is withheld or replaced with a surrogate. The hand holding was more relaxed, perhaps because it was a second opportunity. I wonder how many other people will offer the time to explore?

We are friends, we live in a fairly remote rural setting which enables more contact through less contact but still the time involved holding hands is outside generally accepted comfort so perhaps this is also an act of curiosity?

In the time of hand holding perhaps there are also chances for new exchanges, the wet clay recording some traces of our exchange. Perhaps as I learn more about handling the clay I can capture the nuances of that exchange, unspoken but palpable in the time of holding each other.

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On seeming to be invisible

How many of us feel really seen?

What does it actually take to make yourself visible?

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