Lost and Found

Its funny when you find something you did ages ago and forgotten. I found this on my You tube channel complete with short essay...

If people and their attachment to place is what makes a site a place as opposed to a space, what happens when the people leave? In my paper 'Should Simulated Environments When Used as Empathic Design Tools be Considered Spaces or Places?' I explored how sites are given meaning by people and their interactions with it.

One of the strands I looked at was how memory and place are intertwined. I photographed the house I grew up in, just before my family moved out of it. It is odd looking at images which for me are still loaded with meaning, knowing that for other people they mean nothing. For the guy that bought the house, this is how he found it when he moved in... so for him it is the point at which he started to create his own attachments and 'sense of place'.

I remember the epic task of stripping all the wood in the house when we first moved there... the smell of hot air strippers always reminds me of that... the funny people in the grain on the back of the bathroom door... would recognise that door anywhere... the ridge on the hallway wall... the view from my bed room window (later my sister's room where she carved her name in the window sill)... the marks on the door made by the dog... the kitchen table my sister drew a spider into... the same table on which we made hot cross buns whilst watching 'Born Free' on the tv... the pantry that was there and then knocked down...and how I made ginger beer that exploded and made everything in the pantry sticky... the arched window through which I tried to give my then very little sister a snow ball but dropped in down the back of the tv breaking it...

So I guess all these things do still exist, but only as Bachelard suggests in 'Poetics of Space' in our memories.... as for him a house is a container of memories. The sense of place that we who lived in the house made... each of us having our own particular sense of the place... are memories because we can't actually access the site.... if we could access the house, I guess some of the place attachment would remain even if the house is materially very changed.


Starting Point for The Library of Pilgrimages with Space Place Practice

In recent work, I have been exploring what 'safe', 'unsafe' and the state inbetween them feel like and mean to me. Safe and unsafe ‘spaces’ can be found in our every day experiences. A physical location, a word or a gesture can delineate the transition from feeling safe to unsafe and back again I created a safe/ unsafe space installation in January at Arcade Cardiff. Alongside the installation I also made a dance work exploring how during our everyday interactions we transverse safe and unsafe situations continually.

With art group Space Place Practice, I am developing a work of a group show, The Library of Pilgrimages. For my pilgrimage I want to do a walk and find 'safe spaces' in situ. these may be location or people. Where exactly I will walk, I am not sure. I want to do a circular walk, maybe more than once. I have been thinking about the bracelet of religious medals I made as a child. I gained these medals by reading in church. One of them had a piece of fabric attached to the back of it allegedly touched by the relic of St Terese of Liscieux. I want to weave in the idea of souvenirs of experience into the work…


Making I Am Maindee

CNC Milling first batch of I Am Maindee signs
Hand finishing an I Am Maindee sign
Mess left behind after machining the first batch of signs


Playing Safe Underground

'What It Is Rite' in Llangattock Escarpment

Recently I took a part of an installation I had made, deep underground within a cave. A friend has been making a film in the cave and I went to keep her company. We had been there once previously and I had wandered off down various chambers exploring and trying to make sense of place as she worked.

The cave is accessed through a small hole in the side of an escarpment in the Brecon Beacons. On climbing through the hole you enter a large cavity apparently once used as a church. From this first chamber there are three chamber systems. The chambers (one in particular) is covered in graffiti linking visitors from across the centuries. I am particularly drawn to the polite copperplate writing of visitors from the 18th and 19th centuries. Mainly names and dates. It hints that I am not alone, that I am by surrounded by centuries of fellow travellers. It does not feel like a lonely cold place although in many ways it is.

In another chamber I lie down and squeeze under a large overhang. I turn off the torches and listen. Water drops down the rocks with a regular beat. I discern a further sound, regular and following a slower beat. At points the one becomes the off beat of the other. They play a rhythm together.

I expect that the darkness will be inky and velvety, but it is not. It has its own quality that is tricky to describe. I expect that after a few minutes I will feel panicked but I do not. I feel relaxed. I wonder if this is what being inside a floatation tank feels like. The sensation reminds me of a work I made in 2013 Polar Exploration. In that work I sort to create a neutral space where the senses were blurred through ear defenders, the space smelling of mint and the audience eating a mini Kendal mint cake. Visually the audience were made ‘snow blind’ via the installation being large wendy house structures made of film lighting gel in ‘heavy frost’. Although a space of light, the inability to see or hear properly led the visitors to go inside themselves. It is this quality, that I feel in the cave.


What It Is Rite - International Womens Day

I did a talk yesterday about 'What It Is Rite' and what being safe means as part of International Womens day activity at Riverfront Arts Centre in Newport. It was at the end of a day talks by women with experiences of forced marriage, FGM, bullying, asylum seeking, being shot… all very inspiring and heart warming to hear how these women had survived extreme events.

I attempted to get the audience to make a safe sign with me….

Photo courtesy of Steph Roberts

Audience made sign added into installation