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'.  

I have found a place to work

March 13, 2018 by Jayne Murray   Comments (0)

Now that I am technically competent at screen printing I began to look for somewhere to work in Wolverhampton (being a public artist). As I went to different areas, on my bike - no mean in feat in Wolverhampton! I began to use the subways under the ringroad as a way of staying safe from the traffic. As I did so I noticed three subterranean locations within traffic islands. The first really stood out - as it had a skate park in and hundreds of pairs of shoes in the trees. Interesting I thought. Then I found a less obvious place but with more space - Chapel Ash Island. Here a few people were making artworks in response to social issues. It is  a quite well manicured place, the crazy paving at odds with the stencil art on original tiles. This investment in the original design of the place juxtaposed with the current use as an 'underground' place where social critique is visualised made it seem very attractive to me as a place to work. People scuttled through the subways, hurrying through what was once a vision of the future. Having considered it for a while and having visited the marvellous archives at Wolverhampton to research it more I have decided to work in and around Chapel Ash Island for my residency. I am calling the piece of work 'Someone Else's Dream, which reflects the dream that was once the ring road, a legacy of someones vision that we live with, and calls to mind the other dreams that we live with that may not be our own, brexit, capitalism, and patriarchy, for example, and the other dreams that we do present through art. I am interested in how using trace to print on could work to express this, and how a mobility can be incorporated into the work.

Bits of Wolves - scratching the surface

February 2, 2018 by Jayne Murray   Comments (0)

A while ago I found a map of Wolves and taking off the detail, but leaving the boundaries left an image that looked a lot like a flower. I left it for a bit, but have now returned to it as a basis for finding a spot to locate my project in. Yesterday I used it as a start point to leaving the university and exploring a bit, or maybe 3 small bits of the city. The first took in NewHampton Road, and West Park, second the middle of the ring road where the skate park is sunk into a meeting of subways at a roundabout and near 'the way' youth centre, and lastly to blakenhall, as far as Phoenix Park. In the skatepark I encountered a resident with thoughts on Wolverhampton, and it seemed like a node, place where a lot of people went through, due to the subway links as the principle means of crossing the ring road as well as destination to skate. Simultaneously I am thinking of printing onto trace and will be test printing next week to see what the resuts are. 

Going mobile but where?

January 25, 2018 by Jayne Murray   Comments (0)

One of my residency goals is to explore making screen print a mobile process. I am becoming knowledgeable about the print making process, but I now need to see where I can take it physically. I asked one of my peers SIan MacFarlane if she would meet me to discuss Wolverhampton as a place. Sian is a long term Wolverhampton resident. I presented Sian with a map I call 'Bits Of Wolves' which looks like a flower. Sian talked a lot about how Wolverhampton has a lot of resources but also how they are vulnerable to threat of closure, that the people are friendly, and that Wolverhampton gets a bad rap: it's perception does not match it's reality. On the basis of this exchange I have decided to visit a couple of 'bits' next week as a start to finding a place to work. Closure could be a good theme.  

The value of a new medium

December 13, 2017 by Jayne Murray   Comments (0)

For my residency I wanted to learn screen printing. As a photography and public art graduate it is not a million miles away from the mediums I already use but I am finding the process of learning a new medium is focusing my mind on my practice as I consider how to apply it to how I usually work. Invaluable for development and reengaging with practice!

Background in place

November 17, 2017 by Jayne Murray   Comments (0)

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Getting more to grips with the medium, I had films made for a two screen process and have printed the background colour, waiting for them to dry and printing colour two next week. Understanding the process and trying to think of how it can work as a mobile process out & about; I think the photocopier could be key! What's interesting is understanding how an image can be constructed within this process and the saturation of colour is fantastic, as is the speed at hich copies can be made once it's set up. Meeting more students and staff and looking at Rauschenburg. 

Working on the image - step 1

November 7, 2017 by Jayne Murray   Comments (0)

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After an introduction to the wonderful screen print department at Wolves, I am working on the first part of the process, an image through which to learn the process. I am starting with ideas of equality and publicness and am enjoying a return to thinking in detail about single images.