Swings and Roundabouts

So since then I’ve been toying around with some ideas. Considering the swings and roundabouts of life, the places we choose to live our life, ‘Our corner of the world’- my favourite saying from philosopher Gaston Bachelard. I’ve been thinking of ‘Our corner of the world’ in response to place, which is a bit different for me, as normally I solely consider the private space of our homes. But instead I’m looking at the bigger picture of the area we call home. In particular the area I currently call my home- Cumbria. It transpires that my Grandma (my other grandma, on my mum’s side, not the Glaswegian one with all the figurines) was born here in Penrith and spent her early year’s just two villages away in Yanwath. My great grandparents met here in the Lake District and married just a year later. They moved to my hometown of Darwen, Lancashire five years later with my grandma and her two brothers in tow.

So I’m back to thinking about the layering of lives and the repetition of memorable moments- The repetition of memorable moments throughout the generations. As it just so happens that excitingly I’m recently engaged and we plan to marry here in The Lakes. I think the date and times of these events are going to be essential to the work. I asked my grandma to bring up some old photographs of the family and their wedding for inspiration. But I knew then that having the photographs on display in the church would be too literal, there would be no mystery to the piece. So I’ll keep thinking!

A Happy Coincidence

As well as that exciting news from Rheged I also had a rather exciting meeting with a lady called Christine Hurford that opened up yet another opportunity for me. Whilst volunteering with Jo at C-Art, I was told there was an exhibition on downstairs in the Old Fire Station. (The office space for Eden Arts is located in the Old Fire Station- Penrith.) I went along and was really surprised to find the exhibition displayed eerie photographs of a previous obsession of mine- abandoned buildings. I began talking to one of the Artists- Christine about how she gets into these buildings- from previous experience I know the difficulties you can be faced with. It’s well worth it though. The photographs were fantastic- cleverly mounted onto fencing well recognised as a symbol to keep out. The images Christine Hurford and Jane Peet exhibited in ‘Dereliction’ complimented one another’s investigation into the unknown brilliantly.

As the conversation went on, Christine became interested in my own art practice and later revealed she’s soon to have another exhibition at Greystoke Church- which she wondered if I’d be interested in showing some work. I was, of course, honoured to be asked- having something to work for gives any artist the drive to start making again. So as I set off up the stairs with a spring in my step, I became even more excited when I then remembered something that’s been playing on my mind for a while now. A family member of mine had posted something on Instagram about my Great-grandparents (her grandparents.) It was a newspaper clipping commemorating their 50th Wedding anniversary- and what church where they married in? – None other than Greystoke Church, Penrith. What are the chances? I’m not from Cumbria; I move here for work each summer and it’s only recently that I’ve found out that my ancestors lived here in this area. I’ve been considering making some art about this happy coincidence- and well now I have no excuse.

34 Lillieshall Road

Whilst In London I just couldn’t resist paying a visit to the HOME I’d been reading all about in the book I mentioned earlier by Julie Myerson. It seemed an odd thing to do, but I had to see it for myself. I got on the tube to Clapham Common like so many of the past residents of 34 Lillieshall Road would have before me. I Google mapped from the tube and I found it! I found Lillieshall Road! I was so happy to finally see it, the houses where smaller than I had imagined. I walked up the road; it had got to 5 o clock by this time so it had gotten dark, maybe unfortunately. I couldn’t see the house in its full light. As I got nearer to the house I walked down, following the numbers, 12- I’m on the right side of the road then. 32… It must be the next house! There it was, the lights were on, someone was home. Was it the writer? I had no idea but without hesitation I rang the doorbell. (Well I took it all in first, got a few photographs.) I didn’t question myself before I rang the bell though, I just did it. A little boy came running to the door and I could hear his mum say ask who it is first. I explained he didn’t know me. His mum came to the door, all a bit flustered. I was flustered too I apologised for just knocking on her door like this, but I was in London and I had read the book. She knew about the book but explained the writer no longer lived there. I have to say I was a little disappointed that the writer was no longer there. I would have loved to have met her, and I know she would have invited me in no questions asked. As it was, the women who lived there was pleasant enough but explained she was just making tea, well I think she said dinner, so didn’t feel like inviting me in. In a way I didn’t want to go in. I had got my glimpse of the place. I saw that the hallway wasn’t the bright pink that the writer had described in her time at the house. I saw the colourful stripy carpet going up the stairs and the lower level kitchen down at the end of the corridor, which looked modern and white. It was strange because after I rang the bell, I didn’t want to go in. It was this families HOME. Their private place.