Trials, Errors, and Does It Work?

I was back in Wimbledon College of Art, in The Drawing Centre Project Space, for a second phase of the residency. The residency was immensely helpful, for it kept posing the question: what are the key aspects of my experiences in this project?

I kept returning to the jostle of different worlds in close proximity in the city, the mutual encounter of different ways of seeing the world: the sheer quantity and uncontrollability of stuff, of goods, amongst which places and distances fold and tangle. Slowly I realised that this was my response: the point for me would lie in some expression of this jostling, these encounters, the quantity, fluidity, uncontrollability of the connections.

But where to start? Was it to be with the museum or the shopping street? Both were riveting to me but, ever an enticed shop-window gazer, I decided to start with the street.

By now Iâ??d paced Green Street and its surrounding roads many times. Streets, houses, shops: textiles, the factories and workshops where they had been made, carrier bags,â?? it seems like a vast mosaic, and one in constant motion, shifting with seasons, people, the flow of traffic, goods, will and desire: a gigantic collage which my feet ached with walking.

And collage is what I turned to at this stage: the cut and paste technique in which different images from different sources are placed together in juxtaposition. At this stage I needed a method which itself would express the meaning of the work which I hoped to make: an evocation, however slight, of this city of different worlds touching.

_house textile 1                    DSCN4036


It was all experiment at this stage, trying one thing against another until the elements seemed to resonate with and against each other. All the images in this post are photos of my sketchy try-outs which is why they seem unfinished – because they are. The trial-and-error method seemed to chime with the try-it-and-see of drawing practice: make a mark â?? does it work? Put this with that â?? what happens?

In Green Street like any other shopping street in the UK, the shopsâ?? clients carry their purchases away in carrier bags. Somehow these carrier bags stuck in my mind. They were so many and so ephemeral, carrying the things which people had fancied and bought, away from the shops and along the pavements into the houses around the shopping street.

So I started taking carrier bags apart and re-making them, tentatively; then more came, and finally a mock-up of great big one. This was made of the drafting film used by architects. I used it to project images on to and they became ghostly against the semi-translucent surface.

_R3G3460             'X-ray'


 The pavements stayed with me as well; the streets where very different ways of life intersect.  I began to think about pavements and Asian rugs,  pavements-as-carpets. By framing views from the street – a nineteenth century house, a stucco ornament, the local football club - in a surround derived from an Asian carpet, and then repeating the process, a pavement seemed to appear; a kelim runner, composed of complex footprints, both carpet and path, mysteriously connecting the ornament in the post-colonial shops and streets to that in the other site for this project, the South Asian Textile Collection at the V&A.

Architectural ornament, Green Street, Newham E 7  The football club on Green Street Newham E 7

Pavement carpet


In my next post I hope to write about the final phase of this residency, when I began to focus more on this imperial collection of visual treasure and the ways in which the Museum â??framesâ?? it.

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