Friday, 13 April 2012

A day; another attempt to find an appropriate blogging form


The retirement home…

Began the day going to meet with the residents of a retirement home who have had their pictures taken down from the corridors between their flats 'because of Health and Safety'. I'm sure there's a sensible way around this but it would take someone time and intelligent and sensitive interpretation of H&S legislation. It seems it's easier to just say no pictures or vases allowed in any of these homes.

They invited me to their regular weekly coffee morning to discuss the possibilities; they think they want a mural. I have been trying to think of an alternative to this solution as I do have a low opinion of murals. The majority of murals tend to be poor attempts at realism and make me shudder, surely the traditional art of the people could be, well, just better.

Anyway enough of my prejudice, they had good reasons for wanting a mural and so I am taking it as a challenge to help them make a good one.

The idea is that I begin the process, based on many years experience of public art commissions, and then hand it on to Fabrica volunteers picked for their commitment and drawing and painting skills to transfer to the wall of choice.

After talking with the residents about what they had been thinking about I suggested to them that we also think about elements that we could invent from the mural to make lots of smaller cut out drawings to place around all the blank walled corridors. As they seem to be most keen on the subject being landscape, gardens and nature I think it would be good to get them to come up with lists of birds, plants, butterflies, insects, that they know, like, see or grow. I think we could have an interesting combination of botanical drawing and drawings of bugs and seed pods etc. scattered about the rest of the corridors so that no place will look the same as any other. I'd like them all to be hand drawn.

I've agreed with them that I will take in as many print outs of landscapes as I can get my hands on so we can all sit around next Wednesday making collages of landscapes together as a way to share ideas and realise what's possible. I'm aware that everyone involved will have their own vision of a landscape; I think it would be good to get them all out on the table in visual form.

The poet's kitchen…

I went home to think about murals for a while over a sandwich and then went off to meet with Maria Jastrzebska who is Fabrica's artist in residence during the spring show "I see infinite distance between one point and another".

Maria is a poet and the film by The Otolith Group depicts Etel Adnan, also a poet, reading her work 'The Sea'. I hadn't met with Maria before today but she was immediately easy to communicate with and fabulously dynamic, I had asked if she would mind me recording her reading some of her work in Polish (she was originally born in Poland and also works as a translator) although she does all her writing in English, her work has been translated into Polish by others.

I am making a collection of poetry read in lots of different languages for a drawing workshop that I'm running at Fabrica on 30th April 1pm - 4pm. I wanted to do something based on how we hear poetry, how we think the concepts, words and rhythms in our minds. Do they make pictures or do the words and sentences find images in our memories.

I am very excited by this as I'm not sure how it will turn out, people often find it difficult to draw from their minds, they feel more at home with the struggle of drawing from a more concrete reality. So I think it will be hard but a true exploration of how we each perceive the poetic.

I was also thrilled to hear that Maria has been thinking along similar lines and is planning a workshop for writers around translating from languages they don't understand. Looking at shape and form. I will be interested to speak with her after and see the results of both workshops side by side.

The Quaker's quiet…

I dropped Maria off in town and went to Fabrica to meet with Eva Kalpadaki who kindly agreed to read me two poems in Greek with her Cretan accent. As everyone was banging and sawing in Fabrica getting the show together we went to the Friends centre and begged the favour of making the recording in the peaceful corridor of their building. The man at the desk said oh no that won't do, come with me you can borrow a better place, and led us to their lovely peaceful 'quiet room'. We spent 15 minutes of tranquillity recording Eva's mesmeric voice, said thank you and left. That’s four poems and two languages I've got today.


I rushed back to Fabrica with half hour to spare with Maria and Jackie Wills (another excellent poet) before the volunteer briefing. This is Fabrica's regular pre-show meet when volunteers get to hear things about the show, i.e. the contents, the commissioning process, the background of the artist, other events and the exhibitions procedure in the sense of how it will work in a practical way.

It’s a great idea because the volunteers who will be the ones out with the exhibition and the visitors for the course of the show get to meet the various people doing things behind the scenes and can ask questions about any aspect they like in an informal way. It's also potentially time for them to get involved in more things going on. We all got to see the film for the first time on the big screen together too.
(Who was the fidget sitting on that squeaky stool at the back?)

Drove Lisa home and flopped out feeling happy and full of more ideas.

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