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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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”.”
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.
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:
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
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:
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?
Last weekend the Proboscis studio was burgled for the 2nd time this year. As a result we need to install a new alarm and security system (costing over £2k) so we’re hoping to raise funds for it with a special offer on some of our publications.
We’ve bundled together 100 copies of the Social Tapestries Case of Perspectives, Alice’s Endless Landscape Magnet Set & the Catalogue of Ideas from our Being In Common project – all for less than 50% of their combined usual price.
*** Buy your set here ***
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.
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.
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.
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.
I am an artist and co-director of Proboscis, my work includes works on paper video and fine art textiles and fabrics which can be seen at the AEA website. I’m interested in the social, cultural, natural histories and heritage of places, with a particular interest in landscape and environment. I often work in collaboration and create projects in response to a particular location or question. The work ranges from larger curatorial, collaborative frameworks to individual commissions, participation and research.
Current and Recent Projects
Hidden Families (2012 – current) – an AHRC research collaboration with Royal Holloway, NEPACS and Action for Prisoners Families.
Storyweir (2012 – current) – commissioned by Exlab2012, Bridport Arts Centre and PVA medialab, working with Cultural Geographers from Exeter University and National Trust, public artworks, live video and music events, exhibitions and engagement for Hive Beach, Dorset and Bridport Arts Centre for the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
Pallion Ideas Exchange (2012) – project with researchers at Royal Holloway, University of London’s Information Security Group to co-design an ideas exchange with a local community in Pallion, a former shipbuilding community.
As It Comes (2010) – A project in Lancaster exploring the role of independent shops and traders commissioned by Mid Pennine Arts.
100 Views of Worthing Pier: Tall Tales, Ghosts and Imaginings ( 2010) – commissioned by artistsandmakers.comPublic Spaces:
Local Places (2010) – works on paper commissioned by the Empty Shops Network Tour to respond to Brixton and Coventry Market.
Public Spaces: Local Places (2010) – commissioned by the Empty Shops Network Tour to respond to Granville Arcade, Brixton and Coventry Indoor Market.
In Good Heart (2010) – works on paper from a collaboration with Dodolab on Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Landscapes in Dialogue (2010) – works on paper for reflecting on my residency in Ivvavik National Park in Arctic Canada.
Birmingham Total Place (2010) - Proboscis commissioned by Birmingham City Council in response to conversations with parents and early years workers.
With our Ears to the Ground (2009) – Proboscis commissioned by Green Heart Partnership with Hertfordshire County Council.
At The Waters Edge: Grand River Sketchbook (2008) - video and work on paper commissioned by Render for the atrium of the University of Waterloo School of Architecture, Ontario.
Being in Common (2008/09) – Proboscis was commissioned by Haring Woods Studio for Gunpowder Park, London for the Art of Common Space project.
Sutton Grapevine (2008/09) – Proboscis was commissioned by ADeC (Arts Development in East Cambridgeshire) to research online and offline experiences in a rural community where there is a lack of cultural spaces.
Perception Peterborough (2008) - a creative visioning project to develop solutions to the challenges Peterborough faces in the next 15-20 years. Proboscis was commissioned, with Haring Woods Studio, by Peterborough City Council, Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council East, Sport England and East of England Development Agency.
Lattice::Sydney (2008) – Proboscis led, with Information and Cultural Exchange and the British Council in Sydney, a workshop with Western Sydney creative practitioners. Part of the British Councils Creative City project.
Social Tapestries (2004/07) – a major Proboscis research programme exploring the benefits and costs of knowledge mapping and sharing (public authoring) for everyday life.
Topographies and Tales (2004/09) –A film, a two day lab and residencies in Canada and Scotland, with Joyce Majiski.
Artist in Residence (2005) – Klondike Institute for Art and Culture, Dawson City, Yukon, Canada.
Navigating History (2004/05) – Proboscis collaborated with curator Deborah Smith to bring to light local history collections through 11 commissions. Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England, Creative Partnerships and local authorities.
Artist in the Park (2003) – Parks Canada Residency in Ivvavik National Park, Northern Yukon, Canada.
Urban Tapestries (2003/04) – Urban Tapestries was a major Proboscis project combining mobile and internet technologies with geographic information systems and collaborating across industry, academic research, communities and arts.
Landscape and identity; Language and Territory (2002) a partnership with InIVA (Institute of International Visual Arts, London).