Compendium of Public Goods

February 27, 2012 by · 6 Comments 

One of the definitions of Public Goods in economics terms describes them as goods that are not diminished by a persons consumption of them. The air is cited as an example, sometimes the beach, street lighting, free broadcast television and so on (though in the ‘real world’ perhaps nothing really fits this description).  Are there other interactions we value that might be called public goods?  Things that people feel are precious about the places and communities they belong to – stories, skills, games, songs and so on. Maybe they are more intangible than a place, or element or thing, like the way people use local markets as places to meet, converse or share knowledge.

The notion of  Public Goods comes up often in our work; common space and ‘the commons’ as a public good for Being in Common; the role of markets and independent traders in Lancaster for As It Comes, and in Hertfordshire for With Our Ears to the Ground and the social impact of technologies for Urban Tapestries, Snout and Social Tapestries. I can’t quite pinpoint what these public goods are and I want to try and make a bit more sense of them for our Public Goods programme so I’m working with Mandy to create a Compendium of Public Goods  – a series of short animations inspired by many of the conversations and interviews we have had with people about their lives and communities. We are starting with a look back over conversations I had with the March History Group in Lancaster about jumble sales, hand me downs and knitted swimming suits… remember knitted swimming suits anyone?

 

Into Deep Time on the Jurassic Coast

November 24, 2011 by · Comments Off on Into Deep Time on the Jurassic Coast 

After reading about the Jurassic Coast several years ago I’m really excited that we now have the chance to work there on a new commission at Hive Beach and Burton Bradstock, for our project Storyweir. Its been commissioned by PVA medialab and Bridport Arts Centre working with Hive Beach Cafe and the National Trust as part of ExLab 2012.

The commission will be developed over the next few months as we research and collaborate with geographers, earth scientists, the cafe and communities on the coast at Hive Beach and around the village of Burton Bradstock. We’ll be exploring how the human story of the Jurassic coast and the physical geography influence each other. The final works will be staged on the coast during the 2012 Olympic/Paralympic sailing events.

We will be popping up on Hive Beach with a temporary lab to work with local communities recording stories of amateur geology, scientific fact, folklore and tall tales alongside looking at scientific data and mapping of erosion, gathering local sounds and working with geologists and cultural geographers.

Hive Beach runs along the other-wordly Bridport Sands cliffs where it is possible to see Jurassic Strata and where there is a thin upper layer of  limestone, the Inferior Oolite which is rich in fossils such as ammonites, belemnites, shells and sponges. Its a place both steeped in ancient geological time and is a rich mix of more recent physical and social history, folklore, scientific knowledge (amateur and professional) and contemporary stories.

Back and Beyond

July 15, 2011 by · Comments Off on Back and Beyond 

 

The new Lancashire based publication  Back&Beyond, out this week, have published a feature on As It Comes. The team behind this arts, culture and heritage publication have a long-term goal of creating a regular, high quality arts publication for the area.  It combines fiction and non-fiction writing together with profiles of local artists, projects and organisations. The publication is  created by a group of artists, designers and writers and this first issue is free,  if you would like a copy they can be found around Lancaster or contact Back&Beyond directly.

You can also download the entire publication from the Back&Beyond website or the As It Comes spread here.

 

 

Looking back on Bookleteer

June 23, 2011 by · Comments Off on Looking back on Bookleteer 

City As Material 1 Limited Edition Set

It is now a year since we launched the short run printing service for Bookleteer our online self publish and print platform. So now seemed like a good time to start a series of posts reflecting on the diverse uses people have found for it.  Fredrick Leasge has been doing a series of case studies and interviews over on the Bookleteer Blog with people who have used it. Ive been interested to read how some historical and ethnographic projects that have used this method of publishing for documentation and communication.

Julie Anderson, the Assistant Keeper of Egyptian and Sudanese Antiquities at the British Museum used Bookleteer to create 1000 books in Arabic and English about a 10 year archaeological excavation in Dangeil, Sudan to share the findings with the local community in Sudan.

Following the distribution of the book, teenagers began coming to our door in the village to ask questions about the site / archaeology / their own Sudanese history… connecting with their history as made possible through the booklet. It was astonishing. More surprising was the reaction people had upon receiving a copy. In virtually every single case, they engaged with the Book immediately and began to read it or look through it….The Book has served not only as an educational tool, but has empowered the local community and created a sense of pride and proprietary ownership of the ruins and their history.

Bookleteer was used in the Melanesia Project to record, Porer and Pinbin, indigenous people from Papua New Guinea discussing objects in the British Museum’s ethnographic collection. Bookleteer was used first to create simple notebooks that were printed out on an office printer and handmade. Anthrolologist James Leach used them to note the discussion in both English and Tok Pisin, next to glued in polaroid images, to produce a record that involved “capturing the moment of what we were doing and what we were seeing”.

Once filled in the notebooks were scanned and professionally printed to share with the local community in Papua New Guinea. (who have a subsistence lifestyle without electricity).

“[…] As something to give people, they’re an extremely nice thing. People are very keen. I also took some to an anthropology conference before I went [to Papua New Guinea] and would show them to people and they’d immediately say “Oh, is that for me?” People kind of like them. They’re nice little objects.”

Researcher and community education worker Gillian Cowell has used the books as part of a community project with Greenhill Historical Society:

“I think, for community work, it’s really important that you engage in much more unique and creative and interesting ways as a way of trying to spur some kind of interest and excitement in community work […] The books are such a lovely way for that to actually fit with that kind of notion.”

If you are interested in finding out about how you could use Bookleteer, come along to one of our day long Pitch Up & Publish Workshops or Get Bookleteering short sessions this summer.

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New Works for Coventry Market

May 12, 2011 by · Comments Off on New Works for Coventry Market 

Coventry Market

Last month I went up to Coventry Market to spend the day talking to traders and shoppers about set of works on paper I made last year as part of an ongoing series about markets, food and the informal spaces that draw communities together. The Coventry Market Traders found the works online, contacted me and bought them to hang permanently in the market hall. It was a honour to have the traders buy the work and bring it back home where it was created.  You can get a sense of Coventry Market from this film made by the traders. The drawings will be on permanent display later this year but for now you can see images of the 10 works on flickr here. They grew out of a commission from Dan Thompson of the Empty Shops Network to record some of the places the ESN Tour was going to. I was inspired by the vibrancy of Coventry Market and the care traders take over arranging and decorating their stalls as well as the range of produce; from pet food to ribbon, cards to cucumbers, roasting tins to yams, fishing tackle to carpets, cakes and cranberries, you  name it, someone will have it. You can find out more on the market website.

I want to say a big thanks to Bill and Sophie for looking after me so well last month and to Brian and all the Coventry Market traders for making me so welcome.

Coventry Market Coventry Market

Coventry Market

First Fabric Designs

May 10, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

The fabric I designed is back from being digitally printed at Forest Digital. I’ve worked with this kind of printing once before and I like the option to print very short lengths and the fact that there is probably less pollution created due to using ink instead of the chemical materials and water of traditional printing.  The fabric is off to fashion designer Mrs Jones this week and we will be showing the final garments as part of Day + Gluckman’s show in Collyer Bristow Gallery Fifties Fashion and Emerging Feminism later this month. The fabric is inspired by stories of the 50s told to me by a group of Lancastrian’s I met earlier this year for As it Comes.

Looking back on visions of the future

May 4, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

I’m currently working with Fee Doran (aka Mrs.Jones) to create some garments from my drawings for a new commission that curators Day+Gluckman (Lucy Day and Elisa Gluckman) offered me for their upcoming show, Fifties, Fashion and Emerging Feminism at Collyer Bristow Gallery, which also includes a new commission by Freddie Robbins and work by WESSIELING.

Yesterday I received a package of stories, from Lancasters Marsh History group about life and clothes in the 50s as part of my research. The stories from the group, along with much of my other research into the legacy of the 50s really underlined how dramatically life seemed to change afterwards. Having not lived through the 50s I look back on it from two conflicting perspectives. In one way I think of it through the furniture and decorations I saw when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s that made me think of the 50s as an austere, constricting time, not one I would have liked, as a women, to live in. I look back to it as a time of austerity and of conservative values embodied in codes of behaviour, dress, traditions, gender, race and class hierarchies, when the glamour of high fashion was based on rigid expectations of a woman’s role in the home in society. I also think of the cold war,  fear of communism, fear of  the ‘other’. In contrast have seen the hope and imagination in the 1950’s visions of the future and I hear memories of strong communities, care neighbourlyness, the freedom to play and run about the streets many children had, that is almost unimaginable now, and of the huge inventiveness and creativity that flowered in and after that time, and of the lives people new to the UK built in difficult times. I learned when I started working in the arts I learned about the hugely inventive developments in design, art, architecture… (Rae and Charles Eames, Lucienne Day…).

For the commission we were asked to respond to iconic images of  John French and the fabric prints of Joyce Clissold that Day+Gluckman are including in the show, as well as the Festival of Britain. This led me through a route that encompassed my interests in technology development, myths of place, everyday life and back to Lancaster where I have recently been working on As It Comes a project about Lancasters Traders, to think about Horrockses the cotton manufacturer who launched an iconic ready to wear collection in the late 40s. This brought me back to the Marsh History group in Lancaster. who are such great storytellers; its something to do with their blend of  straight talking but kind Lancashire humour and an uncanny ability to remember the mundane and extraordinary detail of everyday life more then 50 years ago.

I’m creating a series of fabric designs and working with Fee Doran (Mrs.Jones) to create custom garments for the show, alongside a series of drawings that reflect the mythical image of glamorous 50s fashion and new domestic technology against the lived experience of the everyday. I’ll be incorporating traces of embroidery and snippets of conversation into folds, pleats and hems.

You’ll be able to see the finished work from: 26 May – 21 September, 2011
at  Collyer Bristow Gallery, 4 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4TF

for:

FIFTIES, FASHION and EMERGING FEMINISM:

Iconic John French prints, from the V&A Archive, alongside highlights from the Museum and Study Collection at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, work by WESSIELING, and new commissions by artists Alice Angus with Fee Doran (aka Mrs.Jones) and Freddie Robins responding to the world of fashion.

www.dayandgluckman.co.uk

 

Whose Data?

April 19, 2011 by · Comments Off on Whose Data? 

Last month I went to Bristol, to Knowle West Media Centre as part of Whose Data? an intensive residency week where 8 artists worked with the community to find ways of sharing live data. The artists; Jules Rochielle, Julie Myers, Paul Hurley, Susanne Stahl, Richard Layzell, Steven Paige, Chris Chapman came from backgrounds in performance, design, fine art as well as digital media.

Knowle is a large housing estate just outside the centre of Bristol and though it is classified in some areas as a “deprived urban area” it has a strong community and sense of place. It was built along the lines of the Garden City Movement and has lots of green space and gardens. There is an interesting mix of urban and rural and many people have a close relationship to the land;- they keep horses, sometimes in their gardens, chickens even pigs are not unknown.

The idea was to come up with locally relevant ideas for using live data that could be useful to people who want to know more about energy use, weather,  growing food on their allotments and so on. During the week the artists created and presented ideas to KWMC and local residents four of these will be awarded a residency to develop their ideas further. Whose Data? is being led by Dane Watkins, who has been artist in residence at KWMC since 2009 (initially supported by Science City Bristol) working on the Electric Footprint project. The week long event was open submission and KWMC offered a small fee that was enough to make it possible for people to take time out and explore ideas. Its not something that happens often as a way to research a proposal but its a great model becuase whatever the outcome of the final selection it is a rare chance to intensely experience a situation as part of developing new ideas and dialogues. I liked the intensity, the time to get immersed in the place and the ‘open door’ approach KWMC has to the community.

 

 

It Comes and Goes

February 25, 2011 by · Comments Off on It Comes and Goes 

For everything we sell we provide a back up service which isn’t what many people do nowadays… but at the current time its very hard…Independent shops are going to be a thing of the past and I think everybody, once they are gone, is going to realise how important they are but its going to be to late.

Yesterday Lucy from Mid Pennine Arts and I moved the As It Comes work to St Nicholas Arcade as the project was commissioned to tour to different sites in Lancaster. At the same time we dropped into see some of the traders who had been part of the project and I was reminded of some of the conversations we had about the intangible aspects of knowledge and skills (which is feeding into our new programme Public Goods).  Whilst I was drawing and interviewing traders I tried to work out what were the tools of the trade, and what were the unspoken skills of the independent traders. The obvious tools were not necessarily the only or main ones,  there were many unspoken less obvious tools – things about how people talk to customers, their body language, how they use their hands, their knowledge of the tools, food and produce they sell and their experience;

Its the knowledge, you go to B&Q and you just pick it off the shelf but if you come here you can ask and we’ll tell you about it… you can come here with a description of what you need and we will disappear into the back shop and reappear with one single screw.

We had a lovely hardware shop but he has gone. They can’t compete with the chains, but you go into those places (chains) and ask for help and they are running away from you, they don’t want you to ask “what size screw?” or “what kind of glue?”..

He’d go, “Just a minute…” and he’d go in the back where he had hundreds of drawers and then he’d come out with it and you’d go, “Thank you so much how much?” and he’d go, “5 pence please”.”

In Broken Hill Media Lab

February 16, 2011 by · Comments Off on In Broken Hill Media Lab 

Way back in 2007 we went to Sydney for a residency in Campbletown for Dlux Media Art’s project Coding Cultures project which “explored how a range of media technologies can enable communities to express and share their stories in innovative and imaginative ways”. Before that began I was lucky to be taken for a few short days to Broken Hill to visit the new I.C. Media Lab run by Broken Hill Art Exchange, and to share ideas and knowledge with them, local artists and the local school. The Art Exchange took me to see the gigantic Perilya zinc and lead mine and its mix of ancient and industrial technologies, human experience and high tech digital processes. This week they uploaded this film of the visit which really brought back to me the great hospitality they showed me and also the unique outback mining town of Broken Hill. It sits on one of the worlds richest zinc lead ore deposit and evidence of the mining is all around.

As It Comes; stories, sketches and stitches

January 14, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

In August 2010 I was commissioned, by Mid Pennine Arts and Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce, to create a work about Lancaster’s independent traders,  As It Comes. Building on my previous work about markets and traders I worked with historian Michael Winstanley and artist Caroline Maclennan to research the trading history of the city and to meet local people, shop keepers and traders.

I’ve been developing my use of drawing as a way to research the character of a place and to create a space for conversation; on my visits I began to draw in traders’ places of work, where we would talk about craft and knowledge; communities and friendships and the relationships they have with commodities, food, and people.

What’s inspired me is their skills, care and connection to local communities and suppliers; whether selling fabric, tailoring a suit, fitting a floor, repairing tools, advising on paint, gutting fish or butchering meat. Though I saw many tools of the trade, its not the physical things that people mention most but knowledge, ability to talk to people, honesty and trust.

I spent time with traders to have conversations, collect audio interviews, make drawings and take photographs which have inspired new works combining traditional embroidery with drawing and digital printing on fabric. Lancashire was once famous for cotton manufacturing. Embroidering in cotton seemed appropriate to capture fragments of conversations about intangible skills, experiential knowledge, an uncertain future and the unique relationships these traders have with their customers.

The project was commissioned to investigate the trading history of Lancaster as well as to use some of the empty shop units in town so some of the work is currently in the windows of 18 New Street until the end of Jan 2011 where after it is planned move to another home.

Mid Penine Arts are offering to post free copies of the Project Publication to the first 20 people to share their thoughts on the project. If you’ve seen the work in Lancaster or been have following  the project online it would be great to hear your thoughts. You can post in response to this, or alternatively go to:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8CXMDV3

There are two publications and a special set of StoryCubes printed using bookleteer.com – you can download the print and make up version, or get in touch if you would like a specially printed version.

You can download print and make up versions of the project publication and StoryCubes here:

As It Comes by Alice Angus

A Lancaster Sketchbook by Caroline Maclennan

As It Comes StoryCubes

Trading drawings, tea and mince pies

December 2, 2010 by · 1 Comment 


My time in Lancaster on As It Comes is drawing to a close this weekend with our final event this Saturday when we’ll be hosting a stall at the Vintage and Handmade Market at Storey Gallery in Lancaster from 11am until 6pm. Instead of a financial exchange for one of my drawings (with a brew, mince pie and piece of cake), I’ll be asking for your memories about independent shops. So bring me a memory and we will provide a drawing and some tasty refreshments. Directions are here.

At 1pm I’ll also be doing an informal talk about the work and weather permitting we will walk down to the hangings in 18 New Street and talk about Lancaster’s independent traders. You’ll also be able to pick up the set of storycubes and the project publication.

This week we had Caroline Maclennan in the studio using bookleteer to create a download-print and make sketchbook of documentation of As It Comes. We’ve been lucky to have Caroline as a placement on the project and she has also been documenting its progress. You can download her book here:

As It Comes

November 5, 2010 by · Comments Off on As It Comes 

For the past few weeks I’ve been heading up and down from Lancaster working on As It Comes. It was commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts and Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce and is inspired by both the heritage and future of local traders and shopkeepers.

I have been interviewing and drawing with some of Lancaster’s current shopkeepers and traders to understand more about their businesses and talk about; craft and knowledge; communities and friendships; and the relationship with commodities, food, and people that is different from chains and supermarkets.

The project is continuing my work on markets and shops exploring the people and communities they engender.  I’ve been continually inspired by the skills, crafts and care of traders I’ve met in Lancaster – whether selling fabric, repairing tools or butchering meat. The As It Comes blog is recording some of the thoughts and conversations as the project continues.

Next week I am hanging some large scale work in New Street that combines traditional embroidery with drawing and digital printing on fabric, inspired by these conversations, the history of trade, development of textile technologies and history of cotton weaving in the area.

On the 4th December I’ll be leading a walk around of Lancaster talking about some of the issues raised by the project and thinking about the future of independent traders and town centers. NEF (New Economics Foundation) have published a follow up to their 2005 Clone Town report, entitled Re-imaging the High Street: Escape From Clone Town Britain which supports the need for independent traders; and the Transition Town movement – among others is gathering pace – so I am wondering what we want the new ecology of the high street to be? If you believe that supermarkets and large chains are unsustainable environmentally and socially, but we need some of what they offer, what new retail ecology might we build in the future?

100 Views of Worthing Pier: Tall Tales, Ghosts and Imaginings

September 21, 2010 by · 5 Comments 

Earlier this year I was asked by artist Dan Thompson of Revolutionary Arts Group and www.artistsandmakers.com to create new work inspired by Worthing Pier for the tremendous Worthing Pier Day and the Made in Worthing Festival.

I recommend a visit to Worthing Pier, its not the longest or the oldest but in its fabulous streamlined charm it has all the hope of the future. When the wind blows you feel it might break loose and sail off, past the kite surfers, windsurfers and yachts, beyond the lifeboat men and fishing boats and way on out over the misty horizon and over the high seas.

I think Dan just wanted a couple of drawings but after getting the chance to explore the Pier and get to know it better I got carried away by the stories I discovered and set out to make a new series of works on paper and an animation. I’m interested in our relationship to water and how it is changing;- the life above and below the pier, in and out of the water, the characters of seaside entertainment, the ghosts of past fishermen, sailors and boatmen, all the tall tales of the sea, the lore of tides and weather, the survival of coastal communities and the feat of the engineering of the pier.

I made some visits to the Pier to explore it above and below, at low tide and high tide, walking, swimming, in a kayak… I thought very much about the icon of the pier and its visibility all along the coast. I found so many intertwined stories of lives lived, and lives imagined around the pier and decided to make a series of 100 views of the pier, partly inspired by  Tsukioka Yoshitoshi‘s legendary 100 Views of the Moon published in 1885.  The views incorporated characters from legends as well as real life.

Around 40 of my 100 Views of the Pier were installed temporarily on the Pier in September for Pier Day and the festival the remaining ones will eventually be published via Bookleteer.com and launched alongside a short film I’m working on of my explorations above and below deck.

Seven days in Seven Dials, Books

August 6, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Last month Proboscis and our FJF Placements Shalene Barnett and Karine Dorset worked with with participants on Seven Days in Seven Dials. Three download print & make books created by participants in the project are now available to download. The project involved the creation of a temporary exhibition of films, podcasts, photography and books in an empty shop in Covent Garden, put together in one week by participants from London’s Culture Quarter Programme, working with the projects initiator Dan Thompson from artistsandmakers.com and the Empty Shops Network, podcaster Richard Vobes, photographer Steve Bomford, artist Michael Radcliffe, Proboscis and Natasha Middleton.
The books, made using Bookleteer, are available to download from Diffusion.

Seven Days in Seven Dials; a week in the life of London’s Culture Quarters

July 28, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

For a week in early July Proboscis worked on Seven Days in Seven Dials a project by artistsandmakers.com and the West End Cultural Quarter to create an exhibition in one week with 30 young people on the Culture Quarter Programme of placements.

Proboscis currently has a scheme of placements funded by the Future Jobs Fund and the first two in the scheme, Shalene Barnett and Karine Dorset, joined Seven Days in Seven Dials to create download, print and makeup publications using bookleteer.com to accompany the exhibition. Here are their thoughts on the week:

My role was to put together and produce a publication of the walking tour that took place… First we mapped out the places we were going to go and the route that we were going to take then we set out on the journey. By the end of the day we had taken pictures, collected facts and had most of the content for the eBook. On the Wednesday I spent my time at the shop in Covent Garden, editing photos and text, rearranging the eBook template I had already done and actually start putting in some content.
Friday we were in the studio. I began to finish the book, did some editing and rearranging just to make sure that the eBook was correct., printed off copies and ran them down to the shop in Convent Garden for display for the opening show on the project. It was a great experience and I had great fun working with a big range of different groups of people, I would love to do it again in the near future.
” KD

Seven Days in Seven Dials for me was a lovely experience. I spent seven days in an area called Seven Dials which is located in Covent Garden. I spent the seven days documenting different groups of people as they gathered various information about seven dials….All in all I highly enjoyed my time at Seven Dials. It was nice to meet young people that are on the same FJF scheme as myself and are trying something new and out of the box. I think the Empty Shops project is very creative and I would gladly do it again. At times it was hard work but the hard work most definitely paid off.” SB

You can see images here

and read more on the artistsandmakers website.

Out to sea Seaside

July 27, 2010 by · Comments Off on Out to sea Seaside 

Alice has been invited by Revolutionary Arts in Worthing to create a new series of works inspired by Worthing Pier for Worthing Pier Day on the 12 Sept 2010 and the Made in Worthing Festival 17 – 19 Sept 2010. This is currently involving her in  blustery days filming from a kayak, drawing on and under the pier, talking to people on the pier, wading on the beach, falling over the groynes and tripping over the shingle and researching history in an effort to understand the allure (and engineering) of the pier, the seaside and this particular aspect of the British seafaring relationship to water. The project links to Alice’s ongoing body of work At The Waters Edge, about our human relationship to water, land and traditional knowledge of water.

Rijeka with Dodolab

July 25, 2010 by · Comments Off on Rijeka with Dodolab 

Dodolab with the Rijeka Puppet Theatre

In June Alice Angus joined our partners Dodolab in Rijeka Croatia to join in the lab’s activities and public events and to research a new video installation and series of works on paper about Rijeka City Market, its place in the community and its many traders.

Dodolab have been working in Rijeka in 2009 and 2010 with the city authorities and local groups to explore perceptions of Rijeka, collaboratively examining ideas about the city and its future, thinking about resilience and sustainability. Alice worked with Lea Perinic to speak with market traders traders about the market and some of the issues facing it and observe the flows and uses of the market space through the day and at night. The market is contained in three large art nouveau halls and the streets between them, the fish market building features reliefs by Venetian sculptor Urbano Bottasso. There are buildings dedicated to fish and meat with traders selling all kinds of produce including fruit, vegetables, dairy, bread, nuts, dried fruit, honey, flowers and clothes. The resulting work will be a series of works on paper, some publications and an installation that will be shown in Rijeka City Market, as well as in the UK, to spark new discussions on the value and future of traditional markets.

DodoLab were working with a number of people and organisations in the community including Hartera Music Festival, Rijeka City Puppet Theatre and artist Tomislav Brajnovic on a number of site and locally specific projects including surveys, poster campaigns and performances.

Dodolab is a dynamic and experimental project exploring issues of  resilience in places undergoing change and urban regeneration. The lab creates performances, artworks, interventions, events and education projects through an engagement with sites and communities.

Pictures of the market and Dodolabs activities in Rijeka can be seen here.

You can see images of Dodolabs work in Rijeka here.

Dodolab’s website.

A series of publications have been created by Dodolab using bookleteer.com Proboscis’ free self publishing system.  They are available here.

Shoptalk

July 25, 2010 by · Comments Off on Shoptalk 

Alice has been commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts to undertake a new commission in their Arts Talking Shop programme. The commission is to explore the issues and history surrounding independent shopkeepers and retail in Lancaster and it draws on Alice’s interest in markets, shops, common spaces and the way communities define the identity of a place.


The issues of local distinctiveness and the idea of ‘creative city’ have recurred in Proboscis work across commissions in both the regeneration and art sectors.  Independent shopkeepers play an important role in shaping the notion of ‘creative city’ as a shared, flexible space; using the street and pavement a selling space, a meeting space, a space of exchange. The project will be exploring the inherent creativity of shopkeepers; how the presence of shops affects life on the street and the way informal things can happen around local shops and markets. Local shops sometimes foster a very human scale of vibrant life on streets that have not been sucked dry by a shopping centre and often its the less regulated more informal spaces like markets that draw their communities together.

The project is a Mid Pennine Arts Arts Talking Shop project, delivered in partnership with Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce, Storey Gallery and Lancaster University.

In Good Heart

May 19, 2010 by · 4 Comments 

I have just sent off some new works on paper, that are the first part of my project In Good Heart, off to Confederation Centre Gallery in Prince Edward Island, Canda for the show Dig Up My Heart: Artistic Practice in the Field curated by Shauna McCabe which opens on Saturday till September 22. The show; brings together a group of practitioners who start from the same impulse – a visceral connection to the land and to place, and the transformative potential of that attachment in response to issues of landscape change…

In 2009 I was invited by our partners Dodolab to visit the Charlottetown Experimental Farm on Prince Edward island and spend some time researching its history, exploring the site and the island. The Charlottetown farm was one of a network of Experimental Farms created in the 1880’s to research and improve farming methods and production, the network hub was the Central Experimental farm in Ottowa.

The visit to PEI which triggered many questions about farming and the factors that impact on this most ancient of skills. The works bring together several strands of research, conversations, interviews, historical and folklore research to explore the perception of “Farm”, its origins, what it means to people now and the way in which the disappearance of traditional skills and distance from the sources of our food serve to disconnect people from their link with land and nature.  It is part of my ongoing series, At The Waters Edge looking at peoples local and personal relationship to land and environment.

There will be a publication with the series of works and stories published in June. You can see the works on flickr.

Thanks
I am grateful to all at Dodolab, Confederation Centre and the Public Archives and Records Office for helping with my research. A huge thanks to the people who kindly sent me their thoughts on the word “farm” and I would like to thank; Andrew, Angela, Adriana, Barb, Chick, Deborah, Danny, Dan, Frank, Gillian, Joyce, Joe, Kei, Mervin, Niharika, Tarin and Sarah.  This work was commissioned by Dodolab who invited me to PEI in 2009 as part of an ongoing partnership with Proboscis.

Public spaces, meeting places… and privatisation

April 12, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

At the end of March I  headed up to draw Coventry indoor Market to spend a few days on the next leg of the artistsandmakers.com Empty Shops Network Tour created by artist Dan Thompson (and involving Jan Williams (Caravan Gallery)Steve Bomford Natasha Middleton and podcaster Richard Vobes.) I’ve been commissioned to draw some of the spaces (and their occupants) the tour is visiting and Coventry Market follows from my drawings in Granville Arcade in Brixton.

Coventry Market

An ancient city, Coventry’s medieval buildings were almost all destroyed during the second world war blitz that devastated the city. Its rich history is crossed by stories of King Canute and Lady Godiva. Today Coventry now has a maze of traffic free precincts and modern buildings built in the postwar period and it is far from what the medieval city must have been.

These precincts are watched over by many surveillance cameras and again on this project I to the issue of private and public space that has come up so often for Proboscis in the last 2 years as we find ourselves prevented from taking photos in shopping malls and public squares. PD Smith writes about this issue in an interesting blog post about Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the 21st-century City, Anna Mintons Book looking at control, fear and the city.

Coventry’s indoor market is a circular space in which you can get lost, dizzy and a bit confused about which door you came in but in the process find everything from a cup of tea to 5 kinds of sweet potato, dog biscuits, birthday cards,  fake flowers, fresh rolls, loose cake mix, baking tins and graph paper. Its got a real sense or people mingling from different communities and backgrounds and ages using it to meet, chat and hang out, not just shop. They once celebrated it in a musical.

In many of our recent projects people tell us its less regulated more informal spaces that draw their communities together, Watford Market, Coventry Market, Brixton Market…But these more informal spaces are on the decline it seems and everywhere we see what Paul Kingsnorth wrote in In “Cities for Sale” : From parks to pedestrian streets, squares to market places, public spaces are being bought up and closed down, often with little consultation or publicity. In towns and cities all over England, what was once public is now private. It is effectively owned by corporations, which set the standards of behaviour. These standards are the standards that are most congenial to their aim – getting you to buy things. … There will be no busking, and often there will be no sitting either, except in designated areas. You will eat and drink where you are told to. You will not skateboard or cycle or behave “inappropriately”.

The Empty Shops Network is aiming to celebrate the kind of local distinctiveness that gets lost in these developments and it is working with communities to use empty shops for projects in the spaces and times inbetween other uses. The Network’s projects involve public meetings, informal training for local artists, and showcase the tools needed to run empty shops projects. See artistandmakers.com for details.

You can see more images from Coventry here.

Landscapes in Dialogue

February 25, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

There are no fences here … when you go out of town there are no fences, but I wouldn’t call this a wilderness because peoples homes are here, people live here.

This week I’ve been packing up a set of drawings to send out to the Canadian arctic town of Inuvik for the first leg of a touring show during the the 25 year anniversary of Ivvavik National Park in Canada which was created by a historic Aboriginal land claim settlement The Inuvialuit Final Agreement, signed in 1984. In it the Inuvialuit agreed to give up exclusive use of their ancestral lands in exchange for guaranteed rights from the Government of Canada. The rights came in three forms: land, wildlife management and money. (read more on the Inuvaliuit Regional Corporation). As a result Parks Canada and the Inuvialuit co-operatively manage Ivvavik National Park with the Inuvaluit Wisdom that the The land will protect the people who support the protect the land. Parks Canada has organised a touring exhibition of work from their Artist in The Park programme which I was invited to be part of by artist Joyce Majiski, in 2003 with whom Ive been working with since them on projects such as  Topographies and Tales.

Middle of Nowhere?

Bordered on the north by the Beaufort Sea and Alaska on the West, Ivvavik  sits at the north western tip of Canada. A highly biodiverse region of the Western Arctic, its Inuvaluktun name ‘Ivvavik’ means nursery or place of giving birth. It is a portion of the calving grounds and migration route of the Porcupine caribou herd and forms a part of the Beringia Refugium; an area untouched by the last glaciation where an ice-free bridge allowed humans and animals to migrate from Asia into North America over twenty thousand years ago.

In summer 2003 I met up with artists Joyce Majiski  Ron Felix, Audrea Wulf and James Ruben, guide Mervyn Joe and elder Sarah Dillon and flew out of Inuvik, across the Mackenzie Delta towards Sheep Creek. From the air (and in the imaginations of the temperate zone) the arctic taiga and tundra, is a frozen desert. But landing at the junction of Sheep Creek and the Firth River we saw tussocks of wild flowers, embroidered cushions with succulent jewel like plants, luminescent mosses and ferns; miniature gardens of Babylon. Out on the land there were larger traces of life and stories of trappers, miners, hunters and travelers. The language of the north I grew up with paints an image of bleakness, but there the myths of desolation fell away.

“Have good time miles from nowhere!” someone had said before I set off. In the world’s ‘wildernesses’ like Ivvavik it is easy for a visitor to be lost in such a reverie of wonder at landscape that you miss the lives and culture that are part of it. There is a disjuncture between the notion of wilderness as barren, by definition disconnected from the social, and the view of land as homeland, a social place of culture, food and everyday life. To many outside the north the Arctic is still shrouded in an aura of romanticism portrayed, as it has been through the history of polar exploration, as a landscape of sublime desolation. To some, I expect, it’s not a place but an imaginary landscape far away from their everyday lives.  I wonder what is the global consequence of this enduring vision of the land?

One day we see five caribou. Pregnant cows lead the herd from Ivvavik into the calving grounds in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); an area rich in oil reserves. So important are the grounds the Gwitchin people refer to them as the “sacred place where life begins”. If the ANWR is opened for drilling many people believe it will result in untold damage to the herd and the people whose lives and traditions depend on it.

You can read more in Landscapes in Dialogue and in the Diffusion eBook series, Topographies and Tales.

Opportunity to listen at Total Place

February 9, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

I went to the Birmingham Total Place summit last week with the specially commissioned cubes and illustrations Orlagh and I had made for the Early Intervention Project, in response to conversations with parents, carers and workers. They revealed some of the difficulties faced by children and their families and the often very intense frustrations they have in accessing support or working with local services. Proboscis was commissioned through educator and organisational consultant Lesley Cramman, who was facilitating the strand on Early Intervention and we were all driven, in making these, to bring the everyday voices of families, parents and carers into the event. Total Place is a government initiative to look at how a ‘whole area’ approach to public services can lead to better services at less cost.

The event, hosted by BeBirmingham drew a much more varied crowd than I had expected and most people I spoke to expressed real concern and care about their communities and neighbourhoods. However its hard not to be just a little bit skeptical about the ability of Local Government to open up to new ways of thinking and working, despite the obvious commitment, imagination, skills and passions of many of the people I met who work in it. I had some moving and inspiring conversations with a group discussing how to make meaningful connections between the Local Authority and neighbourhoods and how to improve democratic engagement. I hope that the ideas of these people are present in the decisions that come out of Total Place and that the “better services”  can lead before the “reduced costs”. I’d love to see  staff being allowed to take risks to effect changes and be supported to have more time to talk with and listen to the people and communities they work with and for.

With Our Ears to the Ground book

February 8, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

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We have just received the first bound copy of our publication for With Our Ears to the Ground; a project by Proboscis commissioned by Green Heart Partnership with Hertfordshire County Council to explore peoples ideas about community. The project focused on four very different types of community in order to get a broad range of opinions across the county.

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I’m really excited to see the final version and especially happy with the middle tracing paper insert of scenes and people Orlagh and I encountered during the project. The book draws together the multiple layers of ideas and experiences we found across the different communities we met in Watford, Stevenage, North Herts and  Broxbourne and it is designed to reflect the many ideas and voices we encountered. It is organised in the six themes of Transport, Movement, Listening, Community, Getting Involved and Perceptions the emerged during the project. The book contains drawings, photographs, quotes and writings. It can be read in any direction and you can interweave the pages of the three sections  as you read, to find new perspectives.

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The With Our Ears to the Ground book, will go to selected libraries in Hertfordshire. The publication draws together the multiple layers of ideas and experiences we found across different communities and it is designed to reflect those ideas and voices.

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We have a small number of copies please contact us if you would like to acquire one.

We have also published the main chapters as Diffusion eBooks –  books to download print and make up published using Bookleteer.  Booklets to make, carry in your pocket, browse in your own time, rather than read on screen. You can download them here.


With artistsandmakers.com in Brixton Village

February 7, 2010 by · 4 Comments 

Last week I was lucky enough to be asked to spend a few days drawing Granville Arcade/Brixton Village, on the first leg of artistsandmakers.com Empty Shops Network Tour to six towns across England, created by artist Dan Thompson.

I joined Dan, Jan Williams (Caravan Gallery)Steve Bomford and podcaster Richard Vobes, for lively discussion and to create new work on site for an all day event on the Saturday, you can hear Richard Vobes podcasts of about the project here.

Its been a while since I had the chance to stay in one place for a few days drawing, talking to stallholders and getting to scratch a little below the surface, seeing the flows of life. This year we’ve (Proboscis) been involved in several projects that have looked at the issue of common space and how its changing alongside the implications of huge shopping malls, department stores and the privatisation of public space.  It was a real pleasure to be in a place where the character of it is created by the people using it to trade and to socialise. There was an almost constant sound of conversation, laughter and music and the smells of all the food being cooked or sold.

Exploring empty shops is about celebrating local distinctiveness and the project will also show local communities how to use empty shops for meanwhile projects. Each project will last less than a week from start to finish and Dan makes a very open space for artists to follow their interests. Each week will involve public meetings, informal training for local artists, and showcase the tools needed to run empty shops projects.

The tour has been organised by the Empty Shops Network, with the first event happening just a week after the project was conceived at a meeting of organisations involved in bringing empty shops and spaces into meanwhile use.

The tour is supported by the Meanwhile Project, and the Brixton event is using a space provided by the Space Makers Agency. After Brixton, the Empty Shops Network project will visit five further towns, with dates in Shoreham by Sea, Coventry, Cumbria and Durham to be confirmed in coming weeks. See artistandmakers.com for details.

You can see more images from the Brixton week here.

Jan, Dan and Steve.

Steve and Terry – the butcher – in front of the pictures Steve and Jan took during the week.

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