Sunday, June 21, 2009

Preparations for ANTIFREEZE

Today Bernard, Brian, Kate and I met at the Hanley Car Boot Fair in order to start our projects for ANTIFREEZE. As a group AirSpace put forward a proposal to respond to the Hanley Car Boot fair, and we were selected!: here is a short statement that will be going in the ANTIFREEZE literature about what we will be doing:
'As a group we are interested in exploring the notion of value exchange. We have made works in response to the Sunday Car Boot Fair that happens weekly in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, on the same street as the AirSpace Gallery.

There are all types of people to be found at the fair, and as a group we infiltrated the site and made work in response to the people, objects and conversations to be found there.

The finished pieces highlight themes of resourcefulness (working with available resources), and the fact that other peoples junk and waste can be re-used and made into something useful, that can be appreciated once again and put back on the market. Other themes include ideas of trade, waste, environmental concerns, the importance of exchange in its broadest sense and the ability to make and sell products in the recession. Questions about the value of objects come to mind i.e how antiques and art are valued (what makes something precious and valuable- it's age, the artist/maker, the materials it's made from?), and whether rubbish/ found materials can become more valuable when put in the context of 'art'.'

Bernard and I decided to do a collaborative sound piece 'Cheap Talk.' We went armed with tape recorders and went to the stalls with a question: 'What is the cheapest item on your stall?' We would then try to find out a bit about the item; where it came from, what it is, or what it might be used for. We are interested in exploring the idea of exchange and dialogue. One or other of us would purchase the cheap item, and then we will separately be making pieces of work with the items we have gathered.I was pleased with the selection of objects I ended up with, and I am looking forward to working with them. I also got a fruit box and some ribbon, in order to make a tray (like the sort usherettes used to have in the cinema). The objects that I have gathered and will work with will be used as tools for further dialogical exchanges at the ANTIFREEZE fair. I aim to swap each of my items for works of art on other artists groups stalls. The exchange idea is continued: my cheap talk items become networking tools.At the beginning and the end of the day we got sidetracked listening to the butcher's banter.
Each item exchanged/sold/handed out at ANTIFREEZE will be accompanied by this special limited edition postcard:
So if you want to get your hands on one of these, or any of the AirSpace members artworks then you will have to come along to ANTIFREEZE: where there will be around 60 stalls showcasing the best of the countries artists and artist led groups. ANTIFREEZE has been voted the 6th best thing to do all summer by The Times Online, and takes place on Saturday, July 4th at the CHIPS building, Manchester city centre.

Garden Festival 1986 Archive

Last weeks Aftermath Planting Picnic has brought about a bit of an idea. Mark Brereton brought along a wadge of fascinating photos of the festival taken by his Mum Elaine. We all enjoyed looking at them and trying to decipher where things may have been. This also got us talking about the fact that there must be loads of photos out there taken by the people of Stoke, and we all thought it would be great to try to collect them and archive them. So, perhaps we will. Here are Mark's Mum's photos:
And then a couple of days later, Kate emailed with more photos taken by Rob's Mum.Thanks to Rob and Mark's Mum's for starting off the Garden Festival 1986 Photo Archive.

Monday, June 15, 2009

AFTERMATH planting picnic

So, yesterday we all met at a secret location somewhere on the site of the 1986 Stoke-on-Trent garden festival. We were armed with picnic stuff, trowels, seeds, flowers and an apple tree.
Each participant on arrival was handed a map, packet of forget-me-not seeds and instructions, which included details of points of interest to look out for on the Festival site. It was a trek up the woodland stairs to our secluded picnic site, where remnants of some sort of structure and walled garden were evident. We set up the picnic and decided to build up our strength before getting on with the serious business of planting.
Chocolate cake and strawberries were passed around (along with many other foodstuffs) and we enjoyed the beautiful woodland setting, planted back in '86. We picnicked in the area known as the Woodland Ridge during the festival. While eating our picnic we looked at the guidebooks and Landscape Design magazine, which was all about the festival, and discussed site and people's memories of it. Mark and Rob had been to the festival as kids, and Mark had brought along his Mum's photos of the event, Bernard had brought his own kids to the festival and Kate's Dad and Grandad had had a stall at the festival. It turns out that the site is as much fun for kids today, as it was back in '86.After our meal and discussion we got on with the planting. The plants selected had all been previously planted at the festival. My seedlings from the exhibition were very small, and only the asters were really viable for planting out, so we added some petunia and Monkey musk bought for the purpose.
We selected a spot by a zig zag wall, as the wall created a bit of shelter and a nice focal point. Then we all got our trowels out.
Andy made a nice big hole for the tree. Then we gave the roots a bit of a shake up.Before planting the apple tree.
The tree got a good watering, even though we were due rain.
And everyone got stuck into planting the flowers out.There was a lot to do.
But it wasn't long before our secret corner looked beautiful.Once we had finished we toasted our new garden with elderflower bubbly.After we had made the garden we took our maps and went to explore the site. Everyone got really involved in figuring out the remnants.There were big squares of concrete.And strange metal footings.
A small round hill with palm trees on top.And a wonderful view of Greenhouse 2000, where the council still grows all of it's plants for the city. We laughed about the way in 1986 'Greenhouse 2000' would have sounded really futuristic and exciting.
Then we crossed the bridge back to our picnic base.

The planting picnic was fantastic, and has made me determined to carry on with the project.