Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Return to Nottingham Island

After reading an excerpt of  Urbanisland - the story of Islanders and their buildings situated on Collin and Carrington Street in Nottingham, I've felt very supported by Nottingham Writer's Studio & the London/Tasmania authors of Transportations: Island and Cities.  It was pleasing at long last to be amongst likeminded writers at this launch of their book at Rough Trade on 8th February. Having shared my project with them, I have decided it's fitting to resurrect Island of Buildings project being spurred further to do this because I've discovered that No1 Collin Street is saved from demolition and to be developed.

The map shows the area now owned by INTU. The North East point is the location of No1 - the building built in 1914 by George Pett - miraculously saved because of its good strategic position as part of the gateway to the city. The giant Westfield out of the picture since 2012,  has helped to move us away from the crippling sense of stagnation that the City Council planners have experienced over the past 10 years or so. So the Owner of the island now becomes INTU...The Broadmarsh car park aka as The Lighthouse or Jumpers Rest is saved also. Looking at the plans and the consultation process in the Broadmarsh, the  planning seems to be focussing on revamping and face lifts rather than replacements and implants... Even the Broadmarsh shopping centre will be remoulded and slightly chipped away at rather than completely demolished. This will be opened up and given natural light so the sense of well being should increase. Also what about adding a green area? We haven't a rest area down this end of town and wouldn't that just give a green space for outdoor coffee bars and slow the restless rush of urban life!

I wonder if the islanders have commented on the new proposals? Will Ocean, the Art Deco dance hall also survive and BCT? The Pagoda hasn't - that came down last year to reveal the view to the castle from Carrington Street and Canal Street. Maybe this time Nottingham City Council has learnt from past mistakes...

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Discovering Gayle Chong Kwan in Stornoway

Between 29th May - 20th June we travel from Barra to South Uist via Eriskay to North Uist to Berneray to Harris to Lewis return sailing to Ullapool... I would've liked to have returned to Brenais on Lewis where I found the old schoolhouse.

Objects and places evoking island histories.

Reaching Stornoway leads to my first encounter with the photographs of artist Gayle Chong Wang... and some connections on islands...

"A fictional island, on which exist the lost and destroyed buildings and places of Scotland, Chong Kwan’s The Obsidian Isle features a series of large-format photographic works, tactile prints, and sensory aids for use on the island, and a limited edition publication". 

© Photograph Gayle Chong Kwan

Ref: Gayle Chong Kwan - The Obdisian Isle - Lantair Stornoway

A full-colour 60 page limited edition publication featuring large-format photographic works, sensory drawings, text works and a wrap around pull-out limited edition cyclorama map artwork. Edition of 500.
© Photograph  Gayle Chong Kwan, 'Theatre Royal', 'The Obsidian Isle' (series), 2011

Friday, 24 May 2013


"In fact, everything corroborates my view that the image of the city's roar is in the very nature of things, and that it is the true image. It is also the salutary thing to naturalize the sound in order to make it less hostile."
(Bachelard, Gaston, The Poetics of Space)

I have included this quote because throughout my investigations I discovered others like Gaston Bachelard and Virginia Woolf have made these same comparisons with islands. I have also discovered that islomania isn’t a weakness or just a desire for escape but a deep-rooted need to find the emotional strength to contest and reconstruct a response to damaging socio-political views and the way decisions are made concerning future of our environment. 

My work explores transitional states by experiencing place as an island. Here the island considered is in a suspended state before it becomes something else. What transforms the mundane of this particular urban island and makes it interesting are the differing human reactions to its uncertainty and how we make bridges between what is see/know and what we imagine. It offers a poetic image rooted in a romantic longings and imaginings - the suspension of belief increasing the desire to leave traces of happenings and memories because most of us have little control over what happens to these sites in our cities which are listed to be demolished and the sites rebuilt upon. The proposal is to suggest there is a way round this by creating and inhabiting urban islands, seeping these in metaphor and imbuing them with utopian dreams to overcome inertia, ennui and the ultimate destruction of our memory of a place.

Island of Buildings (2011/12)
Slide Projection

Monday, 6 May 2013

Getting lost

Begin by travelling to the watery edges of Lady Bay and wander these shores until reaching a far place to the east you discover a couple of lagoons surrounded by tall trees. Imagine being lost or marooned and that you forget that beyond it, traffic constantly circumnavigates the island’s perimeters.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Lady Bay Island

Travels to watery edges of Lady Bay... the urban landscape never far away, the noise of traffic and people wandering its shores always within earshot until reaching this spot... off the beaten track...

This place to the east of the island has a mournful soulfulness. The village of Adbolton functioned as a harbour and once stood on the banks of the loop - the dismembered arm of the oxbow now creates two ponds either side bordered on every side with tall, spindly ashes and birches. However I've also read that the pools were created by bombs dropped during WW2 - the subsequent scene evoking the aftermath of warfare making it a very silent place with a sense of watery burials. I even believe that the crackle of frozen leaves trodden underfoot could belong to souls waiting patiently to depart this world and the accompanying birdsong is irridiscent lyrics...

The last visit blue and red markings on the trees suggesting a darker, murkier practice of recalling the dead or lost ones.

Bheir me o, horo van o
Bheir me o, horo van ee
Bheir me o, o horo ho
Sad am I, without thee.

When I’m lonely, dear white heart,
Black the night or wild the sea,
By love’s light my foot finds
the old pathway to thee.


Thou’rt the music of my heart;
Harp of joy, o cruit mo chruidh;
Moon of guidance by night;
Strength and light thou’rt to me.

Marjory Kennedy-Fraser Eriskay Love Lilt 
Song of the Hebrides

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Lady Bay Urban Island

In and around Lady Bay... preparing urban island project for Lady Bay Arts Festival... A visual artist and writer with skills and experience in management and working in partnership with people. Highly organised with excellent communication abilities with a strong motivation to engage audiences in practices that question the significance of the therapeutic and cultural importance of art and literature in relation to meaning/memory of places.

In order to make a response to the uncertainty of our urban surroundings, I interrogate metaphorical possibilities by creating imaginary islands in real urban places. I involve audience through discussions and tours guided by maps in a repetitive action of returning and reinterpreting, asking them to consider the possibilities for recurring and overlapping realities to be found in particular places with island characteristics and geographies.