Login

All site blogs

Making Sense of Place - excerpt from 'Four Flags for Chapel Ash' pamphlet

June 14, 2018 by Jayne Murray   Comments (0)

I made a pamphlet to accompany my exhibition. It included some of the imagery, and I wrote this text for it:

As an artist who works with the ‘everyday’ and ‘place’, working in residence in Wolverhampton has meant engaging with it’s ring road, firstly as an unavoidable, frequent encounter and subsequently as the focus of my work. If we go with the flow, the ring road isn’t an issue, if we are attempting to move across it, it becomes an obstacle.

Either way it directs us and defines how we experience Wolverhampton; we have little choice but to negotiate it.

 

Following the decision to focus on the ring road, particularly the Chapel Ash Island area, research at Wolverhampton City Archives revealed when and how it was built, what was demolished to make way for it and the language that was used to describe this vision for the future, where ‘segregation’, ‘hierarchy’ and ‘fortification’ were seen as positives. Today the vision has proved problematic: ring roads nationally are now understood as a phenomenon that cut off movement, flow, and connectivity, as they create unassailable divisions. 

 

Research into Wolverhampton inevitably finds former MP Enoch Powell, whose ‘Rivers of Blood’ Speech was made 50 years ago: it’s legacy can be seen as having as much impact in current times as the concrete ring road. Both the road and the speech cut through the physical and political landscape, causing divides physically and socially. Parallels between the content of the speech about immigration, and the language, vision and reality of the ring road, can be drawn with other enduring social issues, of economics and housing, where hierarchy, segregation, fortification, and exclusivity arise. The issues all rest on fabrications, of local, national and global significance, but depending on how much we go with the flow, or how much they are in our interest we may notice them less or more.

 

During the process of learning to screen print for my residency, I found the separation and layering needed to make a print resonated with the place I was finding; as a medium it lent itself well to articulating the complexity of place, and the many layers of the past that make it what it is, and to explore .the issues of structure, system, hierarchy and segregation. Several designs led to ‘Four Flags for Chapel Ash’.  The work aims to create a discourse around the issues, using the frame of the ring road as a metaphor, where these ideas from the past can be deconstructed and analysed, and their relevance to today discussed. When the flags were raised in Chapel Ash Island they immediately provoked curiosity and conversation with pedestrians. The human flag bearers were the vital link in creating discourse. 

Employability Wall

June 14, 2018 by Jayne Murray   Comments (0)

I was also asked to produce some work for a wall in the Long Gallery to demonstrate how a residence can be a form of employability for artists. For this I began pulling together some of the material I'd gathered from archives. I made this into 9 posters, 6 of which had a layer of trace on top with words I'd used on the flags. It functioned to show the fullness of the residency and its pathway, as well as one way artists are commissioned. It was extremely exciting to put this work together and hang it as a series interspersed with the flags. 

 

 

 

When images become flags : Four Flags for Chapel Ash

June 14, 2018 by Jayne Murray   Comments (0)

I gathered a lot of material on the ring road and was aware also of Enoch Powell on my peripheral vision. It's 50 years since he made the 'rivers of blood speech' when he was MP for Wolverhampton South West. The two came together one day when I realised the stretch of ring road I was interested in was built at the same time as the speech. I began to use the ring road as a frame and experiemented with putting different images in the frame. I began to draw parallels between the language used to describe the ring road and the social issues I saw as relevant, like immigration, economics and housing. The negative experience of stop start and disadvantage of the ring road system as a pedestrian and cyclist facilitated drawing these parallels with other negative social constructs that prioritise some and disadvantage others. I created a series of images, at first they looked like maps, then possibly as flags.  Several screens and a few test prints later and the flags were on their way. I was limited to 1.2m width due to the maximum screen size, and I worked with the marvellous technicians Andy & Jo to print on fabric - another new development. I made four different ones with the intention of positioning them in Chapel Ash Island - the project title became ' Four Flags for Chapel Ash'.

I was lucky enough to be accompanied by Becky Collins, Serge Sanghera, Sandra Cope, Phil Adams and Su Fahy. We proceeded from the art school with the flags down the ring road to Chapel Ash, where the flags were raised. We had several very positive interactions with the public; Becky Collins has written a marvellous blog from her perspective https://aa2a.biz/pg/blog/Rebeccarep15/read/33066/flying-the-flag-for-wolverhampton-with-jayne-murray

The experience has made me want to continue working with flags and with Wolverhampton's ring road, and to consider what the human flag holder can contribute to the art, and the 'empowerment' of the flag, as Becky describes. How flags often relate to territory, identity and protest, and a common meeting point.

There's an image album of the 'pop up'.  

Flying the Flag for Wolverhampton with Jayne Murray

June 6, 2018 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

, , , , ,

 

Yesterday, I took part in a performance art project that I didn’t quite expect to be a part of and it had quite a profound effect on me. On a macro level, it made me reflect on the power of haptic art. On a micro level, it made me ponder on the issue highlighted by the performance. It was about an issue I hadn’t really thought about before and taking part made me think.

A couple of weeks ago, University of Wolverhampton AA2A artist-in-residence, Jayne Murray, asked for a few willing helpers to aid her in the carrying out an active part of her current project 'Four Flags for Chapel Ash'. While at the art school, she has been looking into the impact of the Wolverhampton ring road, a political move by Enoch Powell in the 1960s, has had on the people and the infrastructure of the city. She has been doing a lot of research at the City Archives where she has found some fascinating images and has been relating her research to the process of printing and socially-engaged art. She needed to turn her research and her art into an active performance. She wanted to engage with the locality.

So I offered my services, being the generous soul I am. If I am honest, after replying to the email, I forgot all about it. On the day of the gathering of volunteers, I had a very busy schedule including a meeting first thing in the morning with the external examiner, another meeting at lunchtime about an art exhibition I am taking part in, and a two-hour drive in the late afternoon to look forward to. As I arrived at the art school that day, I vaguely recalled that I’d agreed to do ‘something with flags’ at 11am at somewhere in Wolverhampton I didn’t know, a place called ‘Chapel Ash’.

Shortly after 11am I rushed to the agreed meeting place. I was late to meet with Jayne and the other volunteers and I was feeling rather flustered. I apologised profusely for my tardiness, but thankfully, all was good. Jayne handed me a flag. My flag depicted a number of repeated words but with one word predominately displayed: fragmentation. The flag also showed a portrait of Enoch Powell.

Flag1

In total, Jayne had printed four flags. Each had a different predominant word (for example, another read ‘hierarchy’) and a different image related to Jayne’s research on the impact of changes to infrastructure and pollical decisions made in Wolverhampton in the recent past. To find out more about Jayne’s project please visit her website. After we had all been handed our flags, myself and the other three volunteers marched off to the middle of the ring road just outside the art building. I still wasn’t sure at this point what we were going to be doing. However, I found myself just enjoying the act of carrying a flag and being part of something that felt important.

We marched together towards Chapel Ash, which is the location of a roundabout which is the centre of the ring road built in the 1960s. We stopped when we reached the oddly empty centre of this large roundabout.

Flag2

Jayne told me that her work is mostly about encouraging social dialogue and engaging people in the topics that she is highlighting. I felt a sense of privilege to be a part of this. As we stood in the empty, ironically pleasant and green space of this roundabout, waving our flags at the passing traffic, I felt a change in me. I felt an importance. I felt as if I was engaging with people, albeit people who couldn’t see me (they could see my flag) and people I couldn’t see (I could hear their cars). I stood and waved my flag vigorously and pondered what the people seeing my Enoch flag would be thinking as they paused at the roundabout to examine this odd flag appearing in the corner of their eye. I heard a few toots of appreciation or acknowledgment and this made me smile and wave more.

Flag3

We were also noticed by on-foot passers-by, a few of which stopped to ask us about the purpose of our flag waving. There is something about people with flags that resonates with the general public. The flag is either a sign of importance, power, or protest. It can be any of the three. I felt an element of each as I waved my flag. I felt as if I was protesting and I felt a surge of strong feeling for the cause, something I had not previously considered. I also felt a sense of importance. The flag is an extension of the arm, a colourful, metaphoric extension of the strength in the arm. I was waving at the masses, they were noticing me. And finally, I felt important. I felt bigger than I am. I felt as if I had some sort of authority to carry and wave my flag.

The passers-by who spoke to us were very positive about the project. Firstly, they wanted to know what we were doing. Then, they wanted to know why. And finally, they offered their own opinion on the issues we were highlighting. They engaged with us. That was the point.

Flag4

An elderly gentleman explorer, originating from an Easter European country, told us over and over again, in a very gentle voice ‘we live in the slums, we should communicate, we should help each other’. This was his message. He wanted this message to sink in with us. It was as if he was passing on a message from some otherworldy place.

Another passer-by had popped down from one of the office buildings which overlooked the roundabout. His colleagues had seen our flags and sent him down to find out what we were doing. He was also very open to hearing about our project. Ironically, we supposed that he might have emerged from the tax offices that loom above Chapel Ash.

As we finished waving, and marched, flags held high, back to the art school, I thought to myself that however many or few people we had been spotted by today, it didn’t matter. They all had an experience from the event, some profound, some fleeting, yet we all had an experience and that is where the value lies. For me, the experience was quite profound. I had volunteered my time, yes. However, turning it around, I felt like I had been chosen and I felt grateful for that.

There is definitely something very moving about being a prop in an art project. I know that those who took part of Jeremy Deller’s #Wearehere project expressed a very similar response after the event. As a volunteer, irrespective of the cause, you do feel quite special.

Flag5

So I say thank you, Jayne, for making my Tuesday a very memorable one this week and for giving me much to reflect upon and think about, in terms of the issue raised and my own art practice.

 

 

My First Blog - My Interview with Jayne Murray

May 8, 2018 by Sandra Cope   Comments (0)

, , , , ,

As an AA2A student representative at the University of Wolverhampton, I have had the pleasure to interview one of this year’s artist-in-residents, Jayne Murray, to discuss, amongst other things, her ongoing projects and what interests her most while practicing as a professional artist.

Jayne has a long history of working in the public sphere and trying to engage people with economic issues that are important to her. She achieves this by collaborating with others and by building a network of contacts. Social media, we both agreed, is a useful tool in achieving this so long as it is kept up to date. She uses appropriate materials for each of her projects. Different mediums have ranged from ladders, glow sticks and even flowers, whichever strikes a chord with the public.

She was eager to talk about her new flag project, which is about places and how they work, highlighting all the historical data she had uncovered in the Wolverhampton archives including some interesting information about Enoch Powell. During the sixties, political leader Enoch Powell was systematic in the rebuilding of much of Wolverhampton’s infrastructure with devastating results. His political choices have left a long legacy of unforeseen segregation. Jayne feels the ring road, for example, creates a hierarchy in which the method of construction, imposed and brutal, was forced upon the people of Wolverhampton. This new road circles the town like a moat around a castle, likened by one councillor to the fortification of a medieval town, cutting it off from the people and prioritising the car. Jayne plans to draw attention to this issue by using the printed flag as a metaphor for failing economic systems, our break from the European Union and the lack of social housing available in Wolverhampton.

 Jayne Print1

 

Jayne Print2Jayne Murray is improving her printing techniques while on an AA2A project residency at Wolverhampton University and has discovered she likes working with trace best, preferring the see-through aspect of it. The two test cases shown above show the strong opacity of the print that can then be viewed from both sides.

 

Her interests are significantly based around public interaction, more so than the works themselves, as she passionately explained that her art is more about participation and encouraging social dialogue.  

With this in mind, Jayne wishes to offer some placements covering three days between the 8th and 30th of June this year. This will be good experience and there will be media coverage of this event.

 Any support for the Flag Project is welcomed. Jayne requests that people who are interested in taking part should drop her a short email expressing interest at: peoplemakeplaces@yahoo.co.uk.

'2 degrees International Prize Leonardo Da Vinci The Universal Artist’ Award

May 2, 2018 by Lucy & Layla Swinhoe   Comments (0)

We were featured in the ‘Art International Contemporary’ Magazine, issue # 1 – January/February 2018, and received ‘2 degrees International Prize Leonardo Da Vinci The Universal Artist’ Award. ( https://www.facebook.com/lucylaylaswinhoeartistpage/ )

Every Point in the Universe is Also the Centre

May 1, 2018 by Olivia Penrose Punnett   Comments (0)

This January I was awarded the Paper Gallery residency, 'Exploring Paper' and spent 6 weeks at the gallery making work reflecting on the history of paper. The resulting show will open this May 19th 6-9pm, If you are in Manchester please pop in for the private view, or if your passing through please pop in to see my exhibition at the Paper Gallery until 23rd.
Here is an excerpt from the Paper press release on the show:
 
"Every Point in the Universe is Also the Centre is Olivia’s response to paper and its history. Her work has often contained the phenomenology of reflection as medium and subject. One of the earliest uses of paper was as packaging for bronze mirrors in ancient China. For Olivia this became the starting point for the residency and the subsequent work that she developed for her solo show. 

What it results in is an ephemeral reflection on present-ness and time; a flash into clarity for a moment, in printed and photographed form. Within the exhibition Olivia attempts to capture the ephemeral. Shadows are captured from dappled light through trees, and bark is both projected and printed onto paper - traditionally made from the same source. Round mono-prints of traditional Chinese mountain river scenes are stretched into screens and used to catch light from projectors. Large hanging prints on tracing paper echo the glass used in frames and screens; hand made, imperfect and veiling. These layers build and reveal to allow views of different stages of printed work, but never reveal the original, like memories always evading perfect recall." 
http://www.paper-gallery.co.uk/olivia-punnett-every-point

    

Fuzzy things

April 26, 2018 by Rebecca Collins   Comments (0)

 

Soft and Scratchy

In my obsession with the thingyness of things, or to borrow the term coined by Jane Bennett, the ‘power of things’, and our relationship with objects, all stuffs, whether they be real, virtual, real, hyper-real, tangible, intangible, factual or fictional, I recently decided to conduct a rather fun experiment. This is the lighter side of doing an MA by research: fun art practice research.

I'm still living in an exclusive monochrome world and foresee staying here for a while longer, so I wanted to relate this need for a void of colour in our vibrant reality to my life-long passion for objects. The aim with my MA research so far has been to tease out an essence of an object through the medium of still-life painting by extracting that one element, colour, with a desire to create something new and hopefully interesting. This time, however, I foresaw finding something, somewhere in the ether, not something I can touch.

I knew that I still needed to paint more things in monochrome. I just needed a new direction to go off in. I didn't want real things, such as the fried egg or the pile of baked beans. I wanted to see if I could take the genre of still life into the cyberworld. I wanted to experiment with being in an abstract, semi-figurative and the fictional world beyond this one.

I needed a way to imagine new objects, objects that don’t exist in exclusively either the data world or in the tangible world. I wanted to create ‘between-the-two-worlds’ objects.

I came up with the idea of painting real objects, that are real somewhere else, but are translated to me via social media and via the medium of language not image.

To this end, I asked people on social media to describe one thing to me. I told them that I didn't want to know what the thing was. I just needed their description. I would then paint the thing described, literally, based on the words alone. In addition, I would translate any colour language into black and white. I wouldn't try to guess the identity of the thing, necessarily, but I would paint what they asked for, almost in a mechanical way (although I did inject an element of the visual image of the objects in my head – this image created by words).

I received an overwhelming response. So far, I have had at least 30 replies. All of which were different, but interesting and valid in their own way. They varied from 'soft and scratchy' to four paragraphs describing an object in almost scientific detail down the lengths, shades, colour, size, relative proportions and materials. This all fascinated me for a number of reasons. I was amazed at the variety of people's capacity to describe. I also received some rather humorous responses ('black and white and red all over' and ‘olive skinned and handsome’). Generalising a little here but the more artistic, creative friends tended to use very visual words to describe their objects ('shaped like the female form but without limbs') whereas the perhaps less creative friends (those who work in non-creative industries such as IT) tended to use a very logical, prescriptive system for 'recreating' their objects in linguistic form. I also saw a slight variance in terms of age, gender, and frequency of use of social media. 

Violin Thing

To date I have painted 17 objects. These objects range from the recognisable to the bizarre. I feel oddly very attached to my objects. It is as if I have somehow extracted them from a place in cyberspace that isn’t accessible, isn’t visible, isn’t quite real yet it really is real. Or perhaps I have extracted them from a parallel universe inside my head, or even inside the heads of others, a dream-like place where the objects are all known and familiar, where they all meet and mingle. A place where they are normal.

Wall of Things

To me, these objects exist. They are tangible. They even have personalities. They are on my studio wall, and they stare at me all day. They blink when I’m not looking. They grin. They are alive to me. They giggle. Am I going mad? I don't think so. Not yet. Where are they? Where do they exist? I made them so they exist. I think their lack of colour adds an eerie, uncanny aspect to them. It is almost as if they have travelled from somewhere where colour isn’t a thing. They have travelled from the past yet from a parallel place.

And, yes, if you are from the object-oriented ontology or new materialist schools of thought, colour is indeed a 'thing'.

All of these thoughts are now going around my head, angular, bombarding and all pervasive. Where will I go next? Watch this cyberspace.

 

 

The necessity to change direction

April 19, 2018 by Sally Stenton   Comments (0)

I was invited to be part of an exhibition for Cambridge Science Festival, but with late notice the gallery became unavailable due to the anticipated knocking down of a wall to connect it to the adjacent cafe. The exhibition relocated to the 'library' upstairs in the cafe and my intended video installation was no longer viable, so I created a new work in response to the new space - with limited options available I developed a dual video projection on the library shelves using video footage of my walk from art to science and back again. Between the projections was a row of books brought to the space by myself and neuro-scientist Marty Fiati. The work reflected our collaborative discussion and we gave a presentation as part of the festival that explored this process.

An Unreliable Narrator

April 9, 2018 by Chris Meigh-Andrews   Comments (0)

, ,

I have developed a new work from material produced for my recent talk to students and staff at ARU. Entitled "An Unreliable Narrator", it consists of a boxed set of index cards, each containing the description of an incident or event that has had an impact on my attitude and approach to my practice with references to ideas, artists and thinkers who have been influential.

Since the talk at ARU, I have added more stories, and plan to continue to add more as they are written. This work will be "published" as a limited edition, starting with version 1, commenced March 2018.

I am also considering including some texts which will be written in code...