Fences & Edges by Karen Alderson

 

Journey 2. Walking from Ovenden Road to the top of Windy Bank Lane.

On Brow Lane, at the foot of the hill, the road curves and on the right is a row of metal fence panels one of which is distorted, its long metal legs bowed into a curved void. I get close to the point at which the metal cracks. Someone has woven green garden wire in between the fence panels that separated on impact, the suturing of a scar.  I want to create a memorial, not to an imagined fatality but to the inevitability of shock after a collision. In Greece roadside memorials are erected both to honour the dead and in thanksgiving to those that survive. I film cars coming down the road and stay for a few minutes acknowledging the event.

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I like Joseph Hart’s definition of Psychogeography: ‘a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities….just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictive paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape.”

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https://remapthemap.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/psychogeography.png

I put Niederland et al into Google and a list of articles about the embodied practice of walking appear, further clicking leads me to posts about displacement of the self via migration and adoption which links with my visit to the Contact Theatre the previous Saturday evening where Lemn Sissay and other performers explored the theme of transcultural adoption and displacement. I hop from illness as a form of displacement to illness as liminality and finally grief as liminality and find this blog post:

https://politicsofthehap.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/navigating-the-liminal-space-of-grief/

Here, Caroline Pearce explores the similarities between grief and liminal places, e.g the disorientation & destabilisation of one’s world, the potential to “dis-embed’ from a sense of being in the world where secure boundaries become destabilised and we stand outside of normality with a potential for both transformation and chaos. This connects adoption, migration, trauma, grief & loss as experiences that have the potential to place people into liminal states.

After 2 years I sometimes go back to the place where I had an accident, bits of the bumper and grill still in the fence. It’s a fast road so I cannot satisfy my desire to walk slowly following the trajectory the car took as it overturned.

This makes me think about family and friends of people who have been killed in road traffic accidents and their need to revisit the place where the deceased died. A spot where place becomes space, a destabilised area where the living meet the dead. I think about roadside memorials and prevailing public attitudes to “private” grief, I consider the advent of the motor car back in the 1920’s and the resulting huge rise in fatalities that called for a national response to widen roads.

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Road traffic accidents are seen as unfortunate incidents, not as a cultural phenomena. Evidence from RoadPeace, an organisation that supports families after a RTA death, have collected evidence that suggest society tolerates road death and disability as an acceptable price to pay for increased motorisation and convenience.

http://www.roadpeace.org/why/

There is an increase in the prevalence of people creating their own roadside memorials  a need, it seems, to make their grief visible. However, others do not agree with this emerging practice, this is a statement from Surrey County Council “There is a view that placing memorials on the highway is maudlin and unhealthy.”

https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/roads-and-transport-policies-plans-and-consultations/roads-and-transport-policies-and-plans/traffic-policy-and-good-practice/other-traffic-policies-and-good-practice/roadside-memorials

Roadside memorials are seen as something that do not sit with the idea of keeping the expression of grief private and contained in designated spaces such as cemeteries.  This leakage of grief into the public area is considered by some as sentimentality and “unnecessary” however Pearce’s article above theorises that the creation of such  memorials is an independent strategy for dealing with the chaos of grief thereby challenging traditional beliefs.

I ponder my experience of being in the car, thinking that I’m safe, seeing the outside like a screen.The car skids, hits the wall, time slows down, the grass moves past then I’m upside down pulling myself out of the passenger window. I feel the cold air, the hardness of the road, the pattern of the road surface as I crawl over broken glass, the sound of people gasping, the soft fur of my hood against my cheek. Moving  from inside to outside, a strange birth.

As I walk up Windy Bank Lane the industrial units, warehouses and garages stop as if there is an imaginary boundary at the foot of the hill. The fields open out to my left and the side of the road is littered with drink cartons, sweet wrappers and fast food containers.  Not one piece of litter is on the tarmac as if an imaginary demarcation exists between the sacred space of the road and its verges, a place to be studiously aimed for when throwing litter from the passenger window. In comparison, less litter is dropped in the industrial area suggesting that drivers and their passengers wait until they enter the unmonitored countryside.

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I investigate the psychology of littering:

http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/energy-and-waste/litter-and-fly-tipping/item/download/429

Two reasons are highlighted, first, certain groups not having a connection to place, second, a sense that it is someone else’s responsibility to dispose of rubbish. I begin to contemplate the sense of disconnection that car driving fosters, a global individualisation and the loss of belief in collective agency.

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Halfway up Windy Bank Lane someone has thrown a black plastic bag of clothes into the field.  A child’s colourful sock makes me think of evidence at the scene of a fatality. I decide that I want to reclaim the clothes and wash them, as you would a body. Clothes are full of emotional energy, they have existed against the skin, they invoke the wearer, their personality, their soul. The concept of the film is becoming clearer.

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Sheep Wool and Horsetail by Julie Turner

 

I decided to make the first nest out of some hand spun Ryeland wool yarn I had previously made from my son and daughter-in-laws pedigree Ryland flock. I chose to weave in a circle. I have several small looms for circle weaving but wanted this one to be bigger than any of them I had so I began to search for something I could use as a loom. I used a flan dish. By winding the thinner more even warp around and under using the grooves for placement this ‘loom’ was sturdy and ready to use. I used a thicker more textured handspun yarn for the weft, which gives it a rustic, natural look. Having done circle weaving before I know there is a tendency for the weaving not to lay flat but become bowl like if the weft is pulled too tight. With this in mind I began weaving the centre without pulling weft too tight to form a flat base for the nest. Once I was happy with that I pulled tighter on the rest of the weft as I wove to create a traditional nest like bowl. You can see the flat centre of the bowl showing in the picture before it was cut from the ‘loom’.

The weaving was then cut off the loom and as predicted the bowl shape appeared. I loosely knotted the warp threads in pairs with one next to the other and left them to hang. I like this look of the threads hanging. I decided to leave them like this for now and may reassess later in the project.

 

The next nest inspiration came from a charity shop find. I saw a metal basket and immediately pictured it holding a hammock style nest. Knowing I had a similar basket and some wool blanket lengths I had bought some time ago, I knew I had all the ingredients I needed. I cut the blanket lengths into strips after roughly measuring the length required and started to weave. At first the lengths were too long as the ‘hammock’ sat on the floor of the metal frame. I tied the ends in a loose knot which I felt did not enhance the design as it was too bulky. Therefore I cut the ends into 4 pieces to create a fringe around the edge. I also cut the lengths shorter at this stage so it floated above the floor of the basket. I am pleased with how this nest has turned out, and I love the fringe.

Whilst grooming my horse Harvey the other day I gave his tail a thorough brushing and as always happens some hairs came out on the brush. I put these loose hairs to one side whilst thinking about how I could incorporate them into a nest. Sat watching TV one evening I decided to finger crochet a single tail hair. Finger crocheting creates a chain of connected loops. I really liked the way the crocheted hair chain curls around in a spiral shape. I crocheted more and gathered a small pile. I’m not sure yet how I will create a nest from these beautiful twists of hair but for now I shall put them to one side until an idea or opportunity presents itself1-single-chain

 

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A couple of weeks later an idea came to me in the form of a bag of potatoes! I decided to try to make a vessel using the mesh as a base and threading the crochet chains through it. I thought this might enable the delicate beauty of their finished form to still show whilst not being overpowered by the ‘holding’ vessel. I cut the mesh piece out of the bag. As it was loosely woven with raw edges it may have a tendency to fray so my first action was to turn under the edges and using a running stitch and horse tail for thread I secured these new hems. Then sewing the two short ends together I formed it into a tube. I added a bottom by cutting a circle in the same material and sewing it on. I then began attaching the crocheted horse tail hair chains by threading each end through a different place in the vessel ensuring the ‘loop’ of the chain was maintained. I felt this really showed off the beauty of the individual chains and was pleased with the outcome.

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Since adding the initial first few horse hair crocheted chains I have added several more and really love the effect it gives. The soft chain of loops on the outside against the sharp straight hair ends of the centre. This nest, although beautiful does not look inviting to me. It looks sharp, pointy, hard and harsh. However it isn’t and the look denies the secure, comfy, practical and safe space it is. I have added a small duck egg to show that although the inside of the nest looks uninviting it is in fact very adequate as a nest and may in the wild serve to ward off potential predators.

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The Middle of the Beginning by Jane Pugh

 

After visiting Bankfield with Julie, and poring over the various treasures, and revealing these in my last blog, I needed to formulate a plan.  At our meeting earlier that day with Karen and Julie, something that Karen had said helped me, now, to move forward. It was that we don’t have to follow up every idea we have, we can hold back on some, and this knowledge lifted some of the pressure to choose a direction.

So my plan is to record some of my many and diverse ideas and a direction might come out of the process. I decided to use my studio at Artworks as it is a quiet and separate place where I can concentrate, and make a start on this next stage.

I made more notes in my sketchbook and started to formulate ideas.

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Then I started to put down my ideas as they arose, first of all the small basket in the painting. What could it’s life have been? screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-09-58-41

During another project I experimented with left-over snippets of silk, gold and cotton threads which was placed loosely then laminated to show the basket, golden ladle and lotus seed head.

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The doll as a Basket-Head with the Shakuhachi flute. Absence of ego.

I combined a purse I had seen in Koln with the sun from the Elizabethan embroidery. I like the idea that the top slips down to partly cover the purse. And it looks ready to run off.screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-09-59-12