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Please contact us by emailing milesanddacombe@virginmedia.com.

Friday 24 September 2010

preservation and persistence

I have been invited to make a proposal for some work at Snibston Museum in Coalville, so today I went to the site to look at the possibilities and meet the other artists.  What I found follows nicely on from Carole's last blog, Erosion.

The site includes the old colliery, the massive structures of the pit heads still there, looking both immense and fragile simultaneously as parts rust away.  There is a continuous battle to keep these monuments from crumbling away.

Here I stumble across another railway line.  The old rail tracks that used to bring coal to the site from other areas around Coalville.  The track runs right into the town centre from here.

I love the sense of connectedness that these converging lines express.  These particular lines are especially significant to me as they are not just relics but are a present and changing site.  The railway tracks themselves are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, which means they cannot be touched, developed or changed by people.  However, the very fact that they are left untrampled by man means that nature is now reclaiming the tracks for themselves.  Apparently several important species of fauna are now found there.   We spotted the most beautiful bright yellow evening primroses growing out of the lines.

Several other parts of the site show nature squeezing itself back into every nook and cranny of the preserved and untouched.  Peering through dusty windows in old store houses, now locked up, you can see shrubs pushing their way through and grabbing any sunlight available.  I love the persistence of nature.  It grows despite us.

Rust and lichen reclaim our neglected iron structures and turn them into their own art works.  Historical sites such as these are not frozen in time at all, but sites of the most beautiful acts of growth and weathering beyond our control or prediction.

Sunday 12 September 2010


Walk 2, September 2010, 5 miles, 2 and a half hours.
Two miles outside Foxton Locks to Husbands Bosworth and back.
Bridges 50, 49, 48, 47 & 46

Leaden legs, foggy head.
Hard going , a bit melancholy.

Thin walkways, treacherous roots,
fallen branches, weakening sun.

Unintentional sculpture imagined in a bridge of something lost -
desiccated bouquet tied at the mid point
questions of who, what and why?

Low branches, slippery ground,
eyes driven downwards by overhanging branches.
Two milestones, brickwork date stamps.

Dry for weeks, then a sudden deluge,
lasting days, has taken it's toll,
evidence of erosion now sticky grey mud.

Trees that survive, adapting
to all that forces a way through tender flesh,
barbed wire, rust and corrugation.

The man made sharp in tooth and claw.

All we experience erodes us,

whilst adding patination to our living milestones.

Time & Motion

Not so much a ride but two different walks.

Walk 1, August 2010
Sherringham to Weybourne and back
5 miles, 2 hrs 30 mins

Stain glasses - the romance of old windows,
even when spending a penny.

The invitation of waves
3 lines 1 curvaceous dip

Come no closer, this is private
a memory of past sea defences

Sherringham Park -
a list of do's and don't's
Keep out or come hither?

Bathing under blue.
Some space to think.
Two steep hills, one stop.
Several meet & greetings.

Baggage stacked for another day,
fresh from the past,
that other country.

Waiting for appropriate signals,
a green light, forward motion.

An invitation to sit, to plan a trip,
watch others depart.
Gathering cloud, rain puddling,
the English holiday experience.

The weight of time.

Time & Motion.

Thursday 9 September 2010

when travel stops...

I am stuck in France.

Stranded without a means of travel for three days, due to the National Strike in France.

I am staying in a small village in a rural part of Les Landes. I had to return my rented car on Monday. There is no bus service here, no train. (I do have access to a bicycle!)

When you get stuck, you start to realise how much travel in general is a part of our lives now. I am very much caught in limbo now - it's not really a holiday anymore because I'm not supposed to be here, and I am acutely aware of how much work I should be doing right now but can't! At the same time it's not a normal rest day or work day either, because I have so little contact with anybody anywhere, I can't go anywhere and there is very little I can progress workwise, not having any equipment or literature with me. So what to do?

So back to the blog... at least here I can record some of my rambling thoughts! "Stuckness" brings me back to some of the conversations Carole and I had in the Fingerprints project - thinking about areas of deprivation where people feel stuck in various ways. A part of our project became about how the mind was where you could always find freedom of a sort - you can travel in your imagination and become anything you want, be anywhere you want... We found the church in the Beanfield Estate to be a place where "mind travel" could happen, the church space, with its vastness, colour and light, gave you the feeling that you could launch yourself up into the vaulted space and take off to somewhere in your mind... time became flexible and inconsequential in that space... time also feels very strange and stretched for me right here now!

Travel and time are two linked entities... a very little research into "time" as a fourth dimension immediately rises the notion of time as something that bends according to travel and speed. The faster you travel, the slower time becomes.

I remember the relativity experiment with two aeroplanes - both planes started from the same place on earth with clocks synchronised to the same time. They then both flew in opposite directions along the equator around the earth at the same speed. The clocks on the planes were then compared with each other and with the clock on the earth at their starting point. One clock showed time had moved on significantly slower than the clock on earth, the other clock faster. (Look up the Hafele–Keating experiment 1971)

Things like that make a great impression on me - we are so used to the idea that time is a reliable measurement that does not falter, then scientists manage to do an experiment that proves otherwise... it blows out the window everything we think we are sure of. I think we all at some point have had the sensation that time is bending, faster or slower... perhaps it actually is!

In 2006, when I was working as part of CoLab, we did a project called the "Time Exchange" where we set up a market stall in Nottingham for the buying and selling of time. It posed the question: if you could buy more time, how much would you have and what would you do with it?

CoLab website