Car Doctors and broken boundaries by Karen Alderson

Car Doctors and broken boundaries by Karen Alderson

2017 has so far been a turbulent year, I am emotionally worn out and have found it hard to concentrate on the project. For me, creative practice requires space to contemplate and engage in the deeper aspects of the work.  I am fixated on the image of the railings and keep going back to the shapes made by the lines. In January I wrote notes regarding experiments putting stabilisers in fabric, similar to bones in corsets. The aim was to play around with distortion of shape by bending the wires in the fabric.


Here I used wire inserted in between two sheets of fabric.



The shapes in the fabric that emerge between the inserts also attract my attention.

I make a wire stencil of the  broken fence,put it on some white sheeting and spray it with grey and white car paint. Later I use red car paint and whilst the stencil is still wet I place it on more sheeting.



p1080575I wrap wire with hand dyed grey cloth and place it on a film of latex.


At the time of writing the latex is still wet & has dribbled on the floor so I’m looking forward to how it will be tomorrow.

I find a piece of broken fencing in the fields and photograph it. I love the distorted squares & angles.


In 2015 as part of a project called Subways, Street & Sidewalks I became interested in fencing on a derelict site. Fencing is about boundaries, broken fences represents transgressed boundaries, inside and outside merging, fusing, separation breaking down, sealed entities spilling their contents, material moving across the threshhold.

I was thinking about the point at which a barrier, like skin, is cut and the outside comes in (& the inside goes out)  and you are no longer a complete whole. No longer safe, unable to maintain the boundary, the prior identity changes it’s form. Even after the skin repairs a scar can develop and, if deep enough, a worry that it may happen again. One’s inner sense of self has now a memory of being entered, of the barrier being cut or torn, violated.

I want to amalgamate the hard and soft of metal and skin, both boundaries, both able to be transgressed, the car being an extension of our personal boundary, acting like a metal skin, yet with our skin inside. I wanted to have something physical to carry around than an invisible feeling, something tangible that others could see than this ephemeral sense of distorted & broken incompleteness, a container that cannot contain, a safety barrier that isn’t safe.

A have a new friend who repairs the body work on vintage cars, he sees himself as a car doctor & calls rust “car cancer”. I like the medical metaphors and ask if he has any rusty metal panels I may have. He does and now I intend to shape a sheet of metal into a sphere that is open at the top, like the fontanelle on the top of a baby’s skull. To do this I will have to chisel a round depression in a block of wood so that I can beat the panel into shape. If and when I manage to do this I want to cover the metal with softer material and a layer of latex to signify skin. This feels like a shift away from the warped fence image, things are finally moving.


The End of the Beginning by Jane Pugh

I am still exploring and researching. I have not settled on one area to develop for the exhibition but am hoping that my route will evolve and resolve itself soon. During my final major show at college many years ago I found myself in a similar position, and I remember quoting Joshua Reynolds, who was in turn quoting James Harris (1709-80), an author of philosophical treatises, ‘Shall I feign a relish till I find a relish come?’ So, then, I did feign a relish, but this time I am hoping that I will find a relish come!

I spent some time examining the embroidery further; I am getting quite excited about this piece – which will become apparent shortly. First of all I spent time looking at the two buildings near the top, at either side.



Then I looked at the creatures illustrated in the embroidery – birds, caterpillars, bees and a lion as well as a mythical creature which I decided to look at first. At a cursory glance I thought it was a griffin (Griffin is coincidentally my maternal grandmother’s maiden name.) It took me some time to identify the creature. Eventually I came upon the details sketched out here in my notes. I have split the next page of my sketchbook into two parts so that I can explain the content – as I say I identified the creature by searching for ‘head of hen, tail of dragon.’ There seemed to be very little information about the cockatrice on line, except for lots of dungeon and dragon images.


Then – a breakthrough from Wikipedia – useful pieces of information, most interesting to me being the sentence in italics:

The cockatrice was first described in its current form in the late fourteenth century.


It has the reputed ability to kill people by either looking at them—”the death-darting eye of Cockatrice”—touching them, or sometimes breathing on them.

It was repeated in the late-medieval bestiaries that the weasel is the only animal that is immune to the glance of a cockatrice. It was also thought that a cockatrice would die instantly upon hearing a rooster crow,  and according to legend, having a cockatrice look at itself in a mirror is one of the few sure-fire ways to kill it.

The cockatrice was also said to fly using the set of wings affixed to its back.

In heraldry

Arthur Fox-Davies describes the cockatrice as “comparatively rare” in heraldry.

It was the heraldic beast of the Langleys of Agecroft Hall in Lancashire, England as far back as the 14th century.

It is also the symbol of 3 (Fighter) Squadron, a fighter squadron of the Royal Air Force.

In Shakespeare’s play “Richard III”, the Duchess of York compares her son Richard to a cockatrice:

O ill-dispersing wind of misery!
O my accursed womb, the bed of death!
A cockatrice hast thou hatch’d to the world,
Whose unavoided eye is murderous.


Argent, a cockatrice volant sable, crested, membered, and beaked–LANGLEY, Lancaster


And so, I began to wonder, could there be a link between the embroidery and Agecroft Hall? Looking at the image of the embroidered cockatrice it certainly looks to be confidently drawn with a strong vision. Could the reference for it have been copied from something the maker had seen? My next step will be to contact Agecroft Hall and follow this lead further.

Autumn leaves and eyelash yarn by Julie Turner

I ended 2016 and started 2017 with 2 very different ‘nests’, firstly, a charity shop find which spoke to me: this ceramic tea light holder looked hard and uninviting as a nest but with some clever embroidery with what is often called ‘eyelash’ yarn it changed into a softer more inviting nest. By leaving the ends of the yarns to hang inside and adding more yarn, it became softer more inviting.


During an autumn walk in the scenic Yorkshire countryside my family and I collected some beautifully coloured fallen leaves which I took home to play with. Using an old broken basket that I had hung onto (every artist knows it will be needed sometime! Don’t they? Or is it just me?) I decided to try to weave a nest using only leaves and twigs. This was extremely frustrating! The leaves kept sliding off the twigs and while adding more leaves the twigs would push the already ‘secured’ leaves off. I persevered and after much trial and error I managed to get a nest shape which had no base and was very delicate to the touch. I left it over night in disgust which was a huge error! The following morning all the leaves had dried up and were ‘crispy’ and brittle to the touch! This meant no more playing with these particular leaves and I have not touched them since! The gorgeous vivid colours have remained intact and I have had a few ideas for these new crunchy leaves which I will experiment with and let you know how and if they worked. Some may even make it into the exhibition display areas just for added colour and interest.