Bony, white, jumbled up and squashed in.



This is an ongoing, self-initiated exploration into the residential estates being constructed on former farmland in South Leamington. I framed it as an art residency, albeit an unofficial one because I liked the idea of an art residency in a residential estate. I wanted an itinerant, surreptitious view of the place. To make work about the commercial enterprise of home construction that would question the meaning of the changes which it wrought.

Local acceptance of new housing is influenced by both the need for more housing, particularly social housing, worries about build quality, increased pressure on local services and a concern that so many new builds - 4,000 are planned - would impinge on the town's character. Amid this concern, changes to land were very obvious. Silvery forms of semi-built houses on reshaped, exposed and bare mounds of red earth. A particular mixture of construction and domestic detritus on the ground underfoot and caught in the hedges. 

Typically, to me, the change in land use appeared unceremoniously abrupt and visually harsh. I sought to reconcile this somehow looking towards forms of ritual and ceremony as healing spiritual processes.


When I started exploring I attempted to simply observe. Trying to be an artist as an observation station - aloof and distanced. This is a mental location I also aim for when drawing from life. I try and see as much as I can, attempting to capture all the details but also keep some attention on the wider form of the thing I'm trying to make an impression of. Applied to exploration this becomes a kind of mindful way of seeing. I'm allowing for the fact that I will inevitably become sucked in and focussed, then I pick up on when my emotions become entangled and pick out the interesting unusual threads. At least that's supposed to be how it works.

Onsite it became field walking. I'd see something and question why it had caught my eye and this would then form the basis for the day's collection. This sounds very facile but it caused quite different collections of detritus - each time I visited. Each collection was differentiated by the light, weather, how rushed I was and my mood on that day.

So I collected all these little things, but I didn't know what to do with them next.

Two things were really important to me in this current work. That my investigation would reveal a reconciliation between the sharp differences in land use, a kind of healing of the trauma, and that my work would remain true to the location I was exploring. 


There was a really visible difference in old and new building materials visible in the ground. Fragments of old tile and brick layered over with foam and bits of coloured plastic. In the past building materials were locally sourced and processed. There is a local clay deposit that once supplied Leamington Brick Company. 

Modern construction materials are sourced via national and global supply chains and manufactured in comparatively complex ways, epitomised by the silvery Polyisocyanurate foam insulation boards. 

This destroys the local link between settlement and land-based resource, and the emotional connection of physical work to land and home is made invisible or hard to find.


To mend this link I brought together objects and materials from the current building sites and those which were associated with the past of same location in the form of physical work station and a ritual observance.


That's jumping ahead somewhat and covers up that I walked the sites for months in a fuzz. Wondering just how I could express the gulf in emotional connection to the land and place that I felt these bland new brick houses represented, but which nevertheless were destined to become family homes full of mess, comfort and conversation. I say destined, they were filling up as I walked past with tramolines, prams and plastic bags full of shopping.

Eventually, after a few false starts centred around trying to cast the ground, about nine months after starting the project I decided to collect soil from the edges of the building sites and investigate it for alternative uses. By the end of the year I had cultivated it, created pigment from it, recorded what creatures lived in it,  photographed it and drew with it. Most productively I discovered it was clay-rich and I learnt to process it into terracotta clay. 

This was a light-bulb moment for me. Processing clay from dirt was a fascinating process that produced many different and intriguing organic shapes as it progressed. It encapsulated a programme of re-use that plastics-based materials cannot hope to emulate. Eventually, pitting the two materials against each other in the format of a shrine answered my original hope that bringing them together comprises an offering to some kind of ineffible other - the unknown and questionable identity of which is unanswerable.


Recent Work

Installation: Bony, white, jumbled up and squashed in
Comprising works: Europa Way Clay Processing UnitRitual Landscape & Wide-Blue-Sky Bricks
Degree Show, SLURPWarwickshire College 2019


Europa Way Clay Processing Unit 


And Silver Houses


And silver houses
And silver houses.
Chrome-e-o
Exoskeleton.
Repeated
Home.

We will have to construct
A grid of apparatus
To hold you up,
And bring in the heavy land machines
To bury your foundations
With the insects and moles.

Oh! The alter-like calm of your clean, 
blank new walls.
Such tranquillity!

And then we will sell you,
And sell you
And sell you
and sell you.






Ritual Landscape



Wide-Blue-Sky Bricks





Reoccuring Surfaces / A Few Rough Hand - Garden Suburb
Open Exhibition for artists in the West Midlands, Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum, 2019




Anthropocene Polyethyline
Group Show, The other side of June, Warwickshire College 2018