Friday 27 April 2012

Cloth and memory: Salts Mill

Salts Mill is the venue for the Cloth and memory exhibition later this year (July–August) and so far I’ve just blogged about the room for my site specific work. Concentrating on this unrestored room though gives completely the wrong impression of the rest of the Mill. Salts Mill is a huge, vibrant site. It contains some lovely shops including a kitchen shop ‘The home’ pictured above, as well as an excellent poster and book shop (see below), Carlton antiques, Trek and trail, Zeba home furnishings, and the Kath Libbert jewellery gallery.

In the jewellery gallery I was delighted to find the work of the lacemaker, Blanka Sperkova, who knits fine wire to produce three dimensional pieces. I first saw her work in Prague where it was hung in the gallery to rotate slowly, producing interesting contrasts and shadows. I had not seen her smaller jewellery pieces before so that was an interesting find.

As well as the shops, some of which are galleries in their own right, there are also two large galleries, the 1853 Gallery and Gallery 2. They include works by David Hockney (who was born in Bradford) and many other artists. So there is plenty to do and see and when you’re tired of shopping and browsing the galleries you can have a meal in the Salts diner or a coffee in the espresso bar.

Monday 16 April 2012

Cloth and memory: First ideas

I’ve been working on ideas for my installation for the Cloth and memory exhibition being held at Salts Mill, Saltaire, Bradford, in July and August (see my previous post on my first impressions). I’ve decided to work with the idea of the room containing six ‘windows’. The six window-like spaces are all in a graduated and different state of repair and the room feels quite enclosed so I will use that to work on ideas of claustrophobia and containment.

Using my idea of the net curtain being the liminal boundary between the inside and the outside of the home I’ve decided that I’ll have a full net curtain at the first window, then the amount of curtain will gradually decrease as the viewer moves around the room until the final window is completely bricked up. This will give the impression that the room is gradually petrifying and entombing the inhabitant and the net curtain will act as a metaphor for the idea of the home as both sanctuary and prison.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Ten drawings by Leonardo da Vinci

This exhibition at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery gives a good overview of the breadth of Leonardo da Vinci’s interests and celebrates the technical brilliance of his drawings. It was wonderful to be able to examine them so closely and in fact some of the images were so intricate that we needed magnifying glasses (supplied by the Museum) to see all the details. We began by looking at the anatomical drawings of the feet and arms showing the bones and muscles in detail. These images are on different sides of the same piece of paper and it is amazing to consider that they were drawn in pen and ink, from life and that there are no crossings out or amendments, just twelve beautifully drawn and medically accurate images. The same accuracy was used to draw sprigs of oak and dyer’s greenweed in red chalk, a medium which Leonardo made popular. These botanical drawings were made for a painting of Leda and the swan, in which Leonardo wanted to express the fecundity of nature. Also for this painting he made several studies of the head of Leda, one of which is shown in this exhibition. This beautiful depiction of a young woman with her head bowed to show off her elaborate hairstyle is captivating. The catalogue informed me that Leonardo and his contemporaries were fascinated by ornate hairstyles, and I would certainly like to know how this one was constructed. The other drawings in this exhibition were of costumes for a masque, designs for weapons, an apocalyptic scene, a map of the Pontine Marshes, engineering drawings and the head of an old man, between them they show the breadth of Leonardo’s interests and skills. All the drawings come from the Royal Collection and are being shown in venues around the country to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

Monday 9 April 2012

Cloth and memory: First impressions

I am very excited to have been selected to exhibit as part of the Cloth and memory exhibition being held at Salts Mill, Saltaire, Bradford, in July and August later this year. I have been asked to produce an installation as a response to one of the disused rooms in the Mill and have decided to keep a record of my progress.

My first impressions of the site for my work were - dusty, cobwebbed, overlooked, cold, dim obscure lighting, cracked paint, boarded up windows. Although Salts Mill is full of light and life and is a vibrant exciting venue this dingy little corner is just right for my work about the uncanny home.

In my practice I use net curtains as a metaphor for the home so I was particularly drawn to the windows. They are dirty and broken but that just adds to the gothic theme. They are large which gives me a good space to work on but they will require a large amount of fabric.

There is not much actual window space. Of the three windows along the wall one is entirely boarded up, one is half boarded and the other is unboarded but there are panes of missing glass. Along the far wall there are three indented areas that look like bricked up windows. So plenty of window-like areas but not much actual window – there is lots to think about here. Watch this space!