Cosies and paintings by Jane Pugh

 

Jane visited Bankfield Museum again last week and looked at the tea cosy along with some paintings, here are some images from her sketchbook and photographs of her visit.

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Maps and getting lost by Karen Alderson

 

By studying both the topographical map and Google maps I have created a circular route that follows the roads marked for widening on the original map.

The route begins on the A629 Keighley Road at the junction for Ovenden Road and travels up the A629, takes a right onto Shay Lane, travels for a mile then takes a right onto Holdsworth Road then first left onto Brow Lane.

The route carries on to Windy Bank Lane where it reaches Halifax Road turns left and then first left onto Roper Lane.

At the end of Roper Lane it turns left onto Green Lane, first right onto Taylor Lane,  left onto Ned Hill Road and first right onto Syke Lane.

At the end of Syke Lane it joins the A629 bears left and travels 3.5 miles where it reaches the starting point.

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The route is approximately 8 miles which I intend to drive, cycle and walk on separate occasions, filming each journey and writing up my experiences. I will draw & take photographs.

Although this route has the topographical map as its origin I intend to follow hunches and be open to distractions, conversations, and random happenings.  I may not stick to the route, it is just an initial loose itinerary from which I can change and move away. I have no preconceived ideas of what may happen and neither have I looked at images of the route or read up about the history of the area although by looking at the old map I have been influenced by zooming into the faded place names.

During my work to identify the route certain points on the old map are present on the Google and OS maps. e.g. The Golden Fleece pub at Bradshaw, this is suggesting a textile piece where at certain points two layers of fabric or paper can be stitched together or layers eroded to show fabric underneath.  This echoes the palimpsest metaphor where I am overlaying the old with new routes but at points the old information remains.  By walking the route I will be recording my embodied experience as research.

It feels that I should have researched the history of the area but I am resisting doing so as I do not want this to influence my subjective experience. I cannot propose that I will find or produce any notion of an objective truth as this does not exist, my aim is to produce a piece of work that has multiple meanings which opposes the meta narrative of place having one “official” “reading”.

The first journey by car

It is Saturday 24 September, 15:30, I’m tired because I travelled from Devon this week where I met friends who I had not seen for 37 years. The whole experience seem to compress the past and present together and I found it difficult to maintain my present sense of self as the dynamics of the place & the past were so powerful. This pull to return to important places and release parts of myself has become too urgent to resist. I think about this on the way to Halifax.  I do not have any personal history with the route I am about to traverse which is a relief.

I locate Ovenden Road and drive up towards Shay Lane, I am not using a Satnav and am relying on my memory of the route and a print out. Shay Lane is written on the road in the right filter lane. I follow the road assuming that it will take me straight to Halifax Road.  I am wrong. In 10 minutes I find myself back on the A629 as Shay Lane curves in a horseshoe fashion back onto it. I am familiar with this section of the route  and know that I am approaching Halifax yet I am looking for Roper Lane as part of me keeps wanting to follow my plans and not accept the unexpected situation. I pull up and check the location on my phone and compare it with my paper map and realise that I needed to turn right onto Holdsworth Road then first left onto Brow Lane. I enjoy the experience of finding how one road links with another through the process of getting lost.

I am also distracted as I have borrowed a sports camera and rigged it up in the car but the display screen keeps on cutting out so I’m not sure whether it is recording. I am not taking any notice of the external environment apart from the road names, the area off the A629 is an place I have never been before.

The route seems longer and steeper than I imagined, I decide not to cycle it and to break the walking journey up into at least three sections. I am preoccupied with planning where I will park and begin to question why I am doing this at all whilst simultaneously enjoying the challenge of finding the route. A recent memory of being a patient at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary is triggered, the consultants name being Mr.Holdsworth, images of the side ward compete with the wide open scenery the higher I climb. I am thinking about walking the route and being able to stop and take in the details of the environment when I miss the turning for Taylor Lane, a cobbled road which reminds me of walking home from Bentley Street Junior School in Nelson, I look on Google maps later & discover that it is no longer a school.

I write my notes up in the car otherwise I will forget details . I am anticipating how my relationship to the route changes over time and how I will document this. I contemplate Freud, Remembering, Repeating and Working Through (1914) and Screen Memories (1899), the exploration of childhood memory, why we return to fragments of them later in life and how the mind reconstructs memories through a process of compromise between the need to remember and the need to repress. Secondly, the act of repeating is a displacement activity as a way of keeping certain memories repressed. We will not find the thing we are continually looking for, the answer lies in becoming aware of the constant need to search and what we are avoiding by searching.

 

 

Eggs and the loss of potential by Edie Jolley

 

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Thinking about the egg collection held by Bankfield, derived from a variety of birds such as ibis, cormorant, puffin and purple heron, I am struck by the loss of potential which is inherent in the act of collecting, which seeks to order the world according to defined protocols and present objects in a graspable pattern. In order for the classifiable signifier to be preserved unaltered, the mutable potential of life must necessarily be discarded. The preservation of the shell for the purpose of collection, as a data point in a process which attempts to represent the world around it in an objective way, denies existence to the potential chick which must break the shell to emerge. Must potential be removed for us to classify and understand the world? Is the shell a reification of the idea of a bird or simply detritus which illuminates a moment in a process? Emotions are inherent in our response to these objects. In the past, specimens of birds and their eggs were collected for both scientific and cultural reasons. Today it would be looked upon as transgressive and illegal to take and destroy the young of birds. Even to display these objects as of historical interest representational of a bygone attitude to the living world would be unacceptable to some.

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My musings led me to think about another occasion when I had been working with a collection of more much more emotive objects. I attended a workshop in July at UCL entitled Artists in the Medical Museum. Here a small group was allowed to sketch and photograph medical specimens. It was an amazing and somewhat shocking privilege to be able to look at preserved foetuses in great detail and see the delicacy and beauty of these unrealised human souls. The loss of potential life was heavy in the air as we sketched and wondered over these tiny beings. Again I was struck by the ubiquity of our desire to collect, this time ostensibly for the purposes of medical training and research, and to feel the power of the object to represent unrealised potential.

As part of the workshop we discussed how artists have used pathology specimens in their work; what might be considered acceptable and unacceptable use and how consent can be given in full knowledge of how donations may one day be displayed. Many of the more challenging specimens, such as those of foetuses, were historical and if consent was given in the past, evidence of it would probably have been lost by now.

These sobering thoughts helped me reflect on how to approach a work involving the egg collection at Bankfield. The medical specimens at UCL, denied life by the circumstances of their development, displayed their lost potential to us in dramatic form. They were still themselves in many ways and had form and character that demanded empathy and respect, awe almost. The egg shells, representations of a deliberate denial of life are more enigmatic. They signify that something has been lost, but it is in no way obvious from the object itself what this is. It is only from the deliberate act of labelling that even the species of bird can be discerned. The body or potential for form has been removed and only the marked shells remain. This leaves me wondering about these unrealised forms. Although the realised birds would have been long dead by now, something would have existed if only for a brief period.

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I hope that further exploration of the potential removed from these shells will inform my complex feelings regarding collections and the secret life of these objects and allow me to contribute to the forthcoming exhibition.

Human Hair, Tree Bark, Bones & Nests by Julie Turner

 

The starting point

A couple of weeks ago the group met to discuss progress so far and support each other on this exciting project. I discussed the fact that I will be 50 in December and would like to incorporate this into my part of the project. Following the meeting Jane and I went to meet Ebony the Collections Officer at Bankfield Museum as she had found some items which might have been of interest to us following the brief which we had given her. It was very exciting and because we went together we got to see the possible starting pieces for the other too. So double the excitement.

I had asked to see items which were spun or woven that included unusual items such as human hair, tree bark, animal hair/bones etc. We went to one of the offices where Ebony had placed some of the pieces for us to view. We were given white cotton gloves to handle the items and instructed how to view them, mainly gently, carefully and one at a time. Each item was laid on white tissue paper and all were labelled with a unique number. Ebony had already cross referenced the items in the museums vast cataloguing system so she could give us as much information about each piece as possible. Jane and I were across the table from each other. We both felt like kids in a sweet shop we were so excited and we both commented on how privileged we felt to be handling such old and delicate pieces of history.

Ebony once again did not disappointed. She had located several human hair pieces as well as some animal hair wearable items. The human hair pieces were incredibly detailed and were even more intricate than I had ever imagined they could be. I fell in love with one piece in particular and wondered if this might be my starting point item.

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Ebony mentioned that she had not taken any of the woven vessel type items out of the store as the majority were behind glass and I could go to the store and see if there were any I wanted to look at more closely. Luckily the slip ware that Jane wanted to see was in the same store room behind glass opposite the vessel display so we went together. Almost simultaneously on entering the store room both our eyes were drawn to a textile piece propped up against the glass. It was a delightfully intricate embroidered picture with 3D elements on it. Jane took pictures and may share it on her post. I had already decided although it was beautiful it wasn’t my starting point item.

Looking at the vessels there were some unusual ones made of cigarette packets, crisp boxes, strips of plastic and many made from natural materials such as reed, willow, grasses etc. Then I saw it. My starting point item. A small natural material (reed possibly) woven, shallow basket which held a drop spindle and some natural cotton ready for spinning all nestling on what looked like cotton fabric. In the display case between much bigger vessels it almost looked to me as if it was standing on its own with a bright light shining just on that one item.  I asked to look at that one in more detail. Being a hand spinner I don’t know why I was surprised that I felt so drawn to this item.

 

Back in the office I scrutinised the vessel and its contents. I turned it over. I held the spindle. I measured it. I photographed it. I loved it. The catalogue number on the label told Ebony that the piece had come into the collection before computer cataloguing and she found it in an old hand written volume in which items were logged.

The entry detailed that the vessel and contents came from Sama Naga Assam and was donated as a gift to the museum in 1922. Ebony suggested that it was probably made in mid 1800 and would have been donated as an ethnographic example of textiles.

The shaft of the spindle is wood and the whorl looks and feels like stone or slate. The spindle is quite heavy for one so small. I hope to go back to weigh it so I can compare it with one I regularly use.

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There was also another vessel I had been attracted to which Ebony also took out of the display cabinet. This one was also made from natural materials (reed again possibly) was dyed blue and looked like a pod I would like to climb into and snuggle up, safe and secure. There was little written information about this one but Ebony suggested it was a 1980s piece, maybe that’s why I was drawn to it as my teenage years were in that era and it was familiar plus I had always wanted one of those wicker hanging chairs which it reminded me of.  As I was examining the vessels I realised how these items could fit into the Secret life of objects projects for me. I recalled I had thought about the spindle nestled in the basket and the blue vessel as a safe and secure pod then it came to me. – NESTS –  I would explore the idea of nests and what a nest would mean to me and I would create 50 different nests using a variety of different mediums both conventional and unconventional  1 for each year of my life, using the textile techniques and methods I use regularly.

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I started to create some spider diagrams to help my thinking.

This is the beginning of a very exciting project I can’t wait to see where it leads me.

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