Month: March 2016

Meeting, musing and decision-making

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This weekend gave us lots of opportunity to share research and ideas, examine our individual approach to the project so far and decide upon the direction of the project.
We used a series of questions as the starting point for our discussions:
Should the outcome of this project be a book?
P: This project is about exploring a different working practice to our usual collaborative process, a practice where research plays a more significant role in determining the outcome; therefore it was important to ask this question rather than make assumptions. After some discussion we decided that a book was still the most appropriate vehicle for the project, it would enable us to reach a wider audience and there was a known forum for it to sit within. We would be working to a new formula where the focus would be on the process of making (the journey) and sharing skills rather than the end result. We reasoned that this was a good enough rationale to work within, what could be considered our comfort zone of ‘artists’ book’

T: The opportunity to meet over a weekend and address an outcome for this project was really interesting.  Sharing visual and written starting points enabled a detailed discussion debating alternatives  for and against a new book work.   We spent some time talking through a potential second outcome which will include making work in response to the range of village notice boards observed during our individual site visits.  It may be that we return to each village and photograph the notice board and catalogue its contents in some was or that we consider exhibiting artwork within these notice boards.

If a book, should it be an edition?
P. We decided on an edition of 8. A manageable number and as the walk is a total of 88 miles, we will both be producing 8 books, so we could also rationalise the decision.

T: Whilst discussing the format of a final outcome we exchanged individual aims and areas of interest within this project.  We share an interest in both the meaning and making  processes and agreed that producing an edition will enable the achievement of both these areas of interest.

Should we work independently and share ideas and practice or work in isolation?
P. We looked at the collaborative project organised by Design Factory called Synchronise, which puts together two practicing craftspeople to exchange a material skill to further practice. Although we both perhaps have some reservations about working separately, rather than adopting our  usual collaborative process – i.e T as the image-maker and P as typographer and book maker… it’s important to find a way forward that enables us both to work independently to an agreed format, so finding techniques that we are both happy to work with in terms of type, format and binding became important to this process.

T: The idea of working independently seems to ‘fit’ this project – in that our separate practices will ‘meet in the middle’.  Whilst this will be a new challenge we have established a format of exchanging, sharing and refining ideas within previous work which will ease this.

Should there be a common theme/ ‘hook’ ?
P. We had both arrived independently at the thought that there could be a women-related theme throughout. However as we talked through this idea, we realised that it would be too restrictive and we both had interesting research that would have to be discarded. We looked at the definition of social history and the phrase ‘the experiences of ordinary people in the past’ seemed to resonate, therefore we’ll aim to highlight and tell the story of an individual within each location – this’ll mean reviewing and consolidating current findings and undertaking further, ongoing research. We began to realise that having to do further research needn’t stop us from starting to produce actual artwork, the two could and should work in tandem.

T: We spent some time considering how artists use photographs in their work and in reading around history and geology.  The definitions of social history and compendium really seemed to fit with our first observations.  Both of us have discovered eclectic collections of facts about villagers within our section of the walk which we would like to present in some way.

 

 

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We met in the middle

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Having worked on this project for three months, making site visits and sharing our findings through the blog, on Saturday we met in the depths of the Northamptonshire countryside. The photograph shows the spot near Sulby that we identified as the middle point of the North and South Jurassic walks.

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Sulby parish notice board in the middle of a wood and the middle of the Jurassic walk.

Ashby St Leger: Gunpowder, treason & plot

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Robert Catesby, the charismatic leader of the Gunpowder Plot, recruited 12 of his close friends and family and in 1605 planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament from a small oak paneled room above the gatehouse of his mother’s manor house in Ashby St Leger. This ‘command centre’ became home to the range of arms and gunpowder that the plotters were amassing.

Reports claim that on the morning of the 5th of November, Robert Catesby, had a servant fetch his son to his mother’s safe keeping at Ashby St. Ledgers. Catesby arrived later on the outskirts of the village and sent a message to his friend Robert Wintour (who was dining with Lady Catesby inside the Manor), asking Robert to meet him in the fields at the edge of town, bringing his horse, but not to let his mother know of his having been there. Robert Wintour complied, and Catesby left towards Dunchurch and on to his death at Holbeche House without saying a last goodbye to his family!

After his death, Ashby St. Ledgers and his other houses were thoroughly searched and Catesby’s goods confiscated. The searchers found nothing there!

Today most of the buildings that stood in 1605 are still there although ‘the walls are crumbling and the famous Gatehouse, where so much history was made, is in imminent danger of falling down’.

http://www.bonfirenight.net/bonfire.php / http://www.ashbystledgers.info / http://www.gunpowder-plot.org

 

 

Filling in the gaps #2

 

My approach to each site visit was not to do any research before-hand, as I didn’t want any pre-conceived ideas about what each location may have to offer, my only reference for directions purposes was the Jurassic walk leaflet. Below are three more villages that I didn’t post at the time, but which I have discovered some interesting historical information about that relates to past-industry.

Great Easton: This was home to a small corset factory – Moore, Haddon and Co. Based in a small ironstone building in Cross Bank; at its height it employed 40 women, one man and one boy. The images above show the factory in about 1910, and how it looks now.

Cottingham: In 1874 the clothing factory Wallis and Linnell was established here. A worker from the 1960s remembers making suits, naval uniforms and blazers. In 1980 the factory became Cottingham Closures – a shoe factory which closed in 2000.

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Wilbarston: Although not strictly in Wilbarston, RAF Desborough – as the map shows was sited just south of the village. It was in operation from 1943-1953, and is now abandoned. Found imagery includes type-written Raid Reports from WWII which record various missions, with comments such as ‘a very comfortable trip’ (!).

Filling in the gaps #1

Barrowden war memorial

 

Whilst I have completed my site visits, there were some locations that didn’t seem to offer much visual reference at the time, and therefore I didn’t bother posting them; however subsequent research has uncovered some interesting stories.

Barrowden: this village had a thriving skin trade, with one prominent trader Robert Gill and Son; described as Fellmongers and woodstaplers and vellum, glue, parchment and patent rug manufacturers – this trade included the preparation of animal skins – a hazardous job – that would then be turned into either parchment paper, chamois gloves or sheepskin rugs. Whole families, including small children, were involved in this industry. The image above is an unusual wooden war memorial from inside Barrowden church.

Rockingham: One hundred and sixty four years ago the first Rockingham flower show was held, and continues today. It was reported that in 1852 ‘there was a good display of vegetables, but very few flowers’ – The exhibitors were divided by class – the gentry, clergy and farmers formed one class and the ‘humble cottagers’ the other. The visual opportunities associated with such a story could be interesting here.