The arrival at the Civic was actually a wonderful experience. I had been so nervous about meeting all the people I had been studying with for 3 years and but it was lovely to finally meet them after the long journey we have all been on. I had brought a suitcase full of the dirt I had collected along with all the other documentation and also had the work which had been delivered by courier. Somehow all the dirt got there. This was a miracle. I also had an open mind about what the display would consist of and what would be process and documentation. I initially needed to dry out the work from UK and and also figure out how to use the space with Emma and Rob. I always wanted the line to be a drawn and then walked, used like a way of negotiating the gallery. A walk that in some way suggested the viewer think about cleaning. I had made two templates of the line from Madrid to Barnsley using an OHP. With Rob and Emma there I tried moving both of these around until I fitted them in the space in a way that allowed the audience to negotiate the space and see all our work. Although I had initially only thought of putting work on the floor, the nature of the group show and gallery space suggested using the wall also so I experimented with the line on the wall also. The shape of the template worked really well with the one on the floor and also with the installation overall. I then tried adding the photograms on the dots on the wall.
the floor was always going to be a problem the dark shiney floor made the dirt quite difficult to see. I was already aware of this and considering adding the yellow gloves or cloths or something to it – I partly did not mind it being almost invisible but it was a problem in the context of this show.
In the gallery we tried a range of options, sticker dots, thin lines of dirt and also yellow tape – before adding more dirt to the bases to make the piles look more authentic (they have the papier maché base). None of these really worked in the end we found some ‘hazard tape and this brought some energy as well as another sense of someone is in the process of working – the dirt on the floor also brought the piles to life more.
Although I liked the brown paper pattern I wanted to try the photograms, bags of dirt and envelopes out too. I therefore took of the brown paper pattern and followed the dots. The result was neater and the line became more suggestive of measuring, collecting or archiving. Angela suggested possibly more male and I believe she had a good point. most importantly might be that energy and activity was lost to a certain extent there was less movement. I had been trying different ideas of what to do with the cloths, I always assumed that most would not be on display as a wall of cloths in a grid would not have the energy of the lines. However these are a big part of the drawing aspect of the process so I tried hanging them in various different ways.
I also started to play with the cleaner’s signs at the civic. The problem was to keep the work about the actions and not compromise too much with the gallery space. It is a while since I had worked in such an art place so I found I was quite unsure how I wanted to do it. There were so many options but the aim remained to lead people in and try to get them to think about the action and how we all do it. The idea of making it visible and the questioning of the work being somehow present in a gallery setting. I did spend most of the time playing and whilst it was a challenge it was also fun. I feel lucky to have been given that time.
All this work is now packed up and I need to think about how I will install what I have (and what I will have when I get to Barnsley). Although I found these pieces interesting hanging in the studio it has always been my intention to have documentation on the floor. I previously played with the piles in the other gallery here in Madrid
The floor is darker and I want to try putting dirt on it first and the dotted line needs to follow the plan of the map. I have made a template that I can use in the gallery.
The bucket, gloves and possibly brush could also be there. I keep feeling tempted to add the fotograms.
This is a big temptation but, apart from the fact that it is impossible for me to use them as they will not have the final 5 places completed, I do not think they will go in the gallery. I think they might be too much of an extension like a kind of archiving practice that I was not really aiming at. I will think about it but they would need a table or a wall.
When I booked my trip to the UK there was no general election, not that people stop cleaning during a general election but I am hoping there will be more people out and about and campaigning, especially as it seems that many people are still undecided. I am now better planned and have maps and street views of the centre of the towns. The only difficult one I have is Chieveley which does not seem to have a centre and the town hall is outside of the village. This corner might work but as it is small I can drive around a bit more. I identified this problem when in the UK in February and drove with my daughter to look at villages.
The nature of villages in Europe is where there is the biggest obvious difference. In Spain the shrinking population tend to live in towns and cities and we have the famous abandoned villages. Although even in low population villages people tend to be on the street more. In England there appears to be no centre although the villages are often wealthier and well maintained. Some didn’t seem to even have a centre or shops. The best maintained villages in my experience are in France. There were events, local businesses and people and as an outsider there seemed to be some sense of community.
Southam seems to prove less of a problem, depending on the time of day there seem to be people. Again I can also drive around a bit.
I am also finding the post offices in towns that have one, although the envelopes will not be back with me until too late for the exhibition. This is another good reason why I will only be using them as documentation.
With all this in mind, and in trying to avoid being seduced by beautiful buildings as I was in France, I am choosing mainly larger towns and shopping streets which might be rather ugly. For example starting in Portsmouth:
there is a large square in front of the library. I do not want to go inside a shopping mall but just outside is a possibility. The advantage of this is that it is pedestrian and I have tried to clean in places in Spain and France where cars have come to park.
In Derby too this place could work:
I feel more organised for the final stage but I also need to be. I also rewrote the instructions post French stage. InstructionsforEnglandJune2017, I will revise before I leave but I am hoping these make sense and will aim not to change them for the final leg once I have set off.
One final note in terms of preparation. I think this project illustrates quite well my attitude to digital and non digital technology. I have used digital technology all the way through the planning stage starting from the walking map, through to the gps in the car. For documentation I have also used photoshop for the maps and used video (although filmed by others ) to document the performances. vimeo link. However the work in the gallery once the show is open is very much physical like the work of a cleaner is, using physical objects and old technologies and I think that is how I work in general. I go from the computer to the studio all the time. I have avoided using digital documentation and especially photography other than on social media, webpage and here in the journal. Now I need to update the webpage so the links show a project that is clearly underway.
I am in the process of packing what to take to Barnsley next week. There are 3 categories I am trying to organise.
the materials I need to take for the final performances and the instructions for how they will be carried out, including the final one in Barnsley I’ll do for the examiners. This includes the cloths, envelopes, brushes and some naked piles, ready for the English dirt.
The documentation which I haven’t couriered (I sent the piles of dirt from Spain and France, samples of dirt in small bags (again in case I have problems getting any through customs) and the envelopes of mailed dirt. I am now organising the cloths, more dirt and photograms and a map which I will probably use for documentation
Process, in addition to the documentation of the project we need a ‘sketchbook’ which I will present as a small process portfolio as the experiments include the cloths from hackney, the cloths I drew and sewed maps onto, the maps and the lists of places and instructions. Also the maps I used to figure out the line and the destinations and the map I drew on in Spain.
I realise these categories can be flexible, however some are pretty clear. The line of dirt on the floor will probably be accompanied by the black bucket, gloves, a cloth and scrubbing brush and possibly dirt on the floor. I do not think I will leave the other documentation in the exhibit, but will decide for sure when I am there. The documentation I imagine will be the final map, the cloths, and envelopes but possibly also mailed dirt and photograms. I am unsure about the bags of dirt too (if there is any left after I use it on the floor).
Everything else will be ‘sketchbook’ and my job now is to make sure this is clear and chronological. I am also considering taking my iron with me for the cloths as I need to roll and fold some of them. However it is not the end of the world if I have to buy an iron.