Monday, February 28, 2011

Ground Level event

The event to support the Ground Level exhibition (Hayward Touring Show) took place last Tuesday.
I was really interested to see how it would work, as previously the walking/mapping events which I have done have all been in places that I know really well. I was interested to see how it would work in a place that I had only visited once. (see previous post for recce).
I had prepared by bringing along images from my recce, and making each participant a pack containing maps, information and mapping aids - plus binoculars.I met the group in the activity room at Leamington Spa Art Gallery (The Pump Rooms).
We started by talking through how artists use mapping and also set out the idea of experimental geography, which we would be employing during the day - thinking about moving differently through familiar space - walking and looking differently can make a well known place seem fresh and new.Within the gallery there are a number of beautiful train travel posters, the idea for today was, using experimental geography techniques, to create alternative tourism posters for Leamington, which would pick up on and respond to the patterns, rhythms and realities of Leamington. We have been given the area next to the posters to display the results, which is exciting.We then went along to see the Ground Level exhibition, which is why Nadia Wazera from the gallery asked me to develop this event. I am very interested by Stephen Willatts work (we are looking at it here) and so it was great to be involved in this. I find his approach to working with space and people refreshing and inspirational. We looked at the show, which includes various approaching to mapping, cartography and movement through space.Then the main part of the day - getting out into Leamington to discover and collect imagery.
We looked high:
and low:noticing things which others might ignoreSometimes the group were able to give me an insight into what it is like to be a tourist in Leamington - it is always necessary to try the spa waters.Which are very salty.On our return to the space we thought about what we had seen - and in particular thought about appropriate language to describe the Leamington we had just discovered to add to our posters. We printed out lots of the images that had been taken.Then everyone got on with using collage to create the alternative posters, picking out the architectural features with decoupage techniques.The results were all unique - and really interesting in their individual approach. But my favourite was the one below. I was pleased with how the day went - the group (who were 14 and 15 years of age) were fantastic to work with - they were really creative in their approach to experimental geography, and the posters now on display were fantastic!
A big thank you to Nadia and Sharon for inviting me along, and for all your help on the day. Thanks too to Glen Stoker for photographing the event.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Leamington Spa Visit

On Friday I got the train to Leamington Spa - a place I had never been before. I realised I had not been on the train for a while, and so really enjoyed the journey - and found myself reading a really interesting essay in The City Cultures reader, talking about the inbetween space of train travel - limboland. Something I have thought about before, and so I was pleased to find de Certeau had written critically on the subject.
I was on my way to a meeting with Nadia Wazera who works at the Royal Pump Rooms - Art gallery. They approached me last year to ask if I would do a mapping/experimental geography event as part of the Hayward Touring Curatorial Open show; Ground Level which opens this month. I was really keen to be involved, as there are some really inspirational people in the show - in particular Stephen Willats, whose work has been very important to my approach over the past few years.I decided to just get off the train and attempt to find my way to the gallery instinctively = trying to employ some of the experimental geography techniques I might use in the event. I was thinking of trying to 'feel' my way to the gallery - following a route which felt most likely to be the right one.Using this method I saw a lot of interesting architecture, but soon found myself back at the train station again, so decided to use the GPS on my phone to get me where I needed to be.I soon found the gallery and explored the streets nearby to familiarise myself with the locality - ready for my event. The event centres around the idea of negotiating a place in a new way - looking, thinking and moving differently through space. The people who come on the event will be equipped with binoculars and cameras, and will be encouraged to look up at features on buildings, and look down at patterns on floors and generally to walk about with eyes wide open, to collect the rhythms and secrets of the place.
We will aim to collect evidence of human engagement with the environment (as here with the sticker) and then represent all that we have collected in alternative travel posters of Leamington, which are almost microscopic in approach, as opposed to the more usual 'landscape' approach.
We will create the posters using collage and also decoupage, and these will be displayed in the Gallery.
My conversation with Nadia was very interesting, as we discussed our involvements in artist led spaces in our respective cities - Nadia is part of Artspace Coventry, and I am part of AirSpace Stoke-on-Trent.
We hope to arrange reciprocal visits to see how we are structured and organised in the near future, which should be very interesting.