Return to base by Karen Alderson

After a few more trips to Shipley wandering around the market square I begin to feel contained by the buildings, as the map is contained by its base. I revisit my initial photographs of the map.

I think about who has touched the attachments, what trace has been left. I examine them, draw, cut out stencils & print.

Looking at the images I take close up photographs & continue creating surfaces with ink, rusting powder, bleach, vinegar.

Lastly I collage pieces of maps, sprayed with ink & use a fine liner to draw the chord attached to one of the handles.

I am still not clear of my direction but feel it necessary to explore different ideas. A meeting with Anne Fox, video artist, helps me to conceptualise my ideas & make a commitment to chose one & develop it.


Space, place and landscape in Shipley by Karen Alderson


The maker of the map, E. Reynolds, was born in Shipley and on a dreary drizzly day I took the A646 to Hebden Bridge & then towards Oxenhope over the moors on the A6033. At Haworth I took a right onto Brow Top Road (B6144) then left towards Harden on the B6429, this took me past the St Ives Estate. At the end of Harden Road I took a left and felt that pit in my stomach that told me to stop. I had purposely not brought a map or satnav. A couple confirmed my feeling and I turned round and headed towards Bingley asking another middle aged man at a bus stop for directions. The traffic was busy and whilst waiting I wound my window down and spoke to a driver. He was going to Shipley and suggested I follow him. We turned left down Kirkgate and I parked on Crowgill Road. Two women, both with young children were parked in front of me, I asked where the town centre was. One signalled to the top of the road where a middle aged woman who pointed me in the direction of the library. In total I made contact with 9 people on my journey, something I would not have done if I had used GPS.

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The library, newly built had “Explore,” “Research,””Browse” emblazoned on the walls in shiny large text, a young man next to me in the queue reeked of alcohol. The Local Studies section at Bradford City Library provided the obituary of Exelby Reynolds. The Shipley Times, dated 31 March 1931, states that he was once a teacher at Wood End School but left to set up a business as an atlas and map maker; the business prospered and his maps found in many railways stations across the country, some as far away as India and China. I make a note to find Wood End School.

Other research indicates the map was made to aid the borough engineers in a road widening programme, a consequence of increased motor car use in the 1920s.


Shipley market square is overlooked by a clock tower, a fine example of Brutish architecture.At the top of the stairs of the indoor market a large photograph proudly remembers its heyday when the market was opened by Sir Bruce Forsyth in 1962.


At the bottom of the single ascending escalator is the Market Choice Cafe, established in 1970, now run by Pedro and Alina, selling a range of herbal teas alongside homemade pies, burgers and toasties. A man in a wheelchair asks Pedro to move a table for access. The market stalls include: DVD, haberdashery, carpet, wool, hardware, comics, fairy, used books. The sweet stall has closed down. I did not see any shoppers, the DVD man was chatting to a friend, the Fairy woman was hard at work.

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In the square are a plethora of charity shops, pound shops, Greggs, banks, hairdressers. Two lines of Cherry trees are in full blossom next to the empty open market stalls. There are people with disabilities, the retired and young men in grey tracksuit bottoms with skins to match. I feel deflated and tired. Shipley reminds me of Nelson, the town I was born where the Arndale Centre, once a thriving shopping experience, is now punctuated by empty units as people shop at “retail outlet villages,”or online; however, charity shops and cash converters seem to thrive in these post industrial small northern towns.


Doreen Massey  argues that a space, like Shipley market square, is not a void, nor is it a place, i.e. an area that has a single identity or given definition but, instead, is a site of layered meanings and stories that shift and interface simultaneously. The feeling or experience of a location is determined by many things: history, geography, economics, psychology, memories. Driving through Bingley I was reminded of coming to Bradford as a young woman on my way to Palm Cove night club, layers of my personal history shifting.

Griselda Pollock defines landscape as: ‘a poetic means to imagine our place in the world’; that the ambiguity or paradox of landscape is that it is both what is other to the human subject: land, place, nature; yet it is also the space for projection, and can become, therefore, a sublimated self portrait’.(Pollock 1997:25)

As Biggs & Tucker argue, landscape can become the place “out of which we narrate a sense of who we have been, are, or might be and that flows together with the concrete particularities of our physical world’.(Biggs & Tucker 2004: 3)

Biggs, I & Tucker, J 2004 ‘Lan2d Beyond Landscape’ Sebright, Bristol.

Massey, D. (2005) For Space. Sage. London.

Pollock, G. (1997) ‘Lydia Bauman: The Poetic Image in the field of the Uncanny’ in Lydia Bauman Landscapes, Warsaw: Zacheta Gallery