Month: December 2015

Baths versus Bull-run

library
Stamford. I visited the library to explore two research strands – both of which have strong connections with the starting point of the walk. The first the public baths on Bath Row and the other the Bull Run; an event first described in 1646, this barbaric spectacle originated on the Meadows and took place annually on the 13 November. One of the famous bull-runners was Annie Blades and the library has a small permanent exhibition showing the town’s history, part of which is devoted to the bull-run – there is also a pottery jug that celebrates Annie Blades. The bull-run lasted until the late 1830s when the SPCA, came into force.

Despite the helpful librarians, information was limited* – and replicated information found
previously on the internet, although I did find a copy of the sheet music for the Song of the Stamford Bullards.

Information relating to the baths was also difficult to find, but research showed that Bath Row was once part of the town’s notorious slums (unlike today!). There was a nice reference point in a book by Betty Clark called Stamford Memories – that sourced an advertisement from 1906 – where it was recorded that hot and cold baths for ladies and gentlemen – first class 1 shilling, second class 6d each.

Food for thought.

*I requested further information from the archives on the Baths, and a week later returned to the library to view several files and a large collection of photographic imagery. Postcards depicting the great Stamford flood of 1912 could become an interesting route to explore further.

The decision not to make decisions

Facetime #1. 
P. We recognised that in our previous collaborations we both have clearly defined roles that embrace our specialisms (T image maker/P text, layout). This process enables us to work within our individual comfort-zones, with the knowledge that the final product will be relatively successful.
My personal practice utilises the design process which enables me to develop a clear idea of how I want the finished piece to look before I start production – and this offers a sense of control. T suggested that we adopt a different approach and have no pre-conceived ideas about the project other than the fact we know we’ll meet in the middle. Therefore the way forward is to undertake 8 site visits each to record, research and analyse the environments.

T. Whilst we attempt to take an open approach to making work we also discussed strategies and structures to most effectively manage our time to enable this project to take shape. We agreed that the first 8 posts are to be uploaded by each of us by the end of January in order for these to inform the direction of the project.
Conversation about our first posts facilitated an exchange of ideas and new lines of enquiry were considered to take forward. Following this I am interested to undertake reading around the importance of the canal network within Oxfordshire which is the starting point for the Southern point of the walk.

Starting Point North

Baths

The walk begins at Bath Row/The Meadows. Two varieties of signage show the street name and the brown and cream painted type on what was the public bath house. Established in 1722 by four local surgeons as a reaction to the town’s poor sanitary conditions, the building was thought to have housed a plunge pool as well as the baths.

Starting Point South

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Six wooden posts accompany twelve steps leading down to the the start of the walk in
Banbury.  First photographs record patterns and colour found within the landscape.

Layers of lines could include references to the lines within the maps posted by P or layers of history, geography and social politics found within the descriptive writings  of Roger Deakin, Robert MacFarlane and Nick Hand.

Some decision making

So, what should the project be, or what could it be?

Here is our starting point: each artist will explore 44 miles of the Jurassic way route; Tamar from the south, where the walk originates in Banbury, and Philippa from the north working from Stamford to the mid-point.

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We will work to some initial pre-determined criteria that will enable the final piece to have some sense of cohesion. We may or may not work in isolation, but the concept, content and theme will be the decision of the individual.

The project may culminate in an artists’ book, two volumes that come together as one – either physically or conceptually.

Piecing things together

And so the project begins.

Whilst we haven’t actually identified what the main output will be, we do know that it will be based on the 88 mile walk called the Jurassic Way – a route along the limestone ridge that joins our hometowns of Banbury and Stamford. The project will hopefully enable us to further develop our collaborative practice, and at some point we will meet in the middle.
So, the first task is to try and piece together the entire journey so that we can accurately gauge the middle point. Luckily for us there is a set of leaflets that give a breakdown of the mileage for each specific section, this, in theory should make life easier.

map with feet

 

close up map

It the calculations are correct, the midway point is half way between the villages of Welford and Sibbertoft.

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