Entre Guillemets // Quote Unquote.

On December 4th-5th 2018, artist Joseph Edwardes Evans presented a new series of small sculptures in an exhibition entitled Entre Guillemets // Quote Unquote.

The works, made entirely of found objects and ‘scrap’ or ‘waste’ materials, emerged in response to the conversations Joseph and I had about post-traumatic landscapes.

Joseph writes:

Made of found metal and severed branches, the sculptures’ construction and display is tightly post-traumatic: they perform as citations by re-appropriating and putting forward material extracted from elsewhere, as if plucked from the receding past at the moment of being consigned to it. This extracted material is made to enter (the “entre” of “entre guillemets”) the present as a vase-type object, testifying to, presenting, or pointing towards histories of use and waste. But at the moment of enunciation, the vases are suggestively illegible as to what their specific material past is. Haphazard, contingent and diverse, they are an uncertain record. […] Whilst the vases represent citational space, an ambiguous plane, they can only bring the idea of the past to us. What we do with it then – what we put there – remains to be decided.

During the course of the two days, visitors were invited to create works around, and in response to, the sculptures. We provided watercolours, typewriters, marker pens, ink, glue and pencils on a large table in the rather chilly foyer of Jessop West.  What emerged was a collaborative scrapbook and an agreement that mental health and wellbeing might be significantly improved if we were able, in our cities and public spaces, to create similar spaces of conversation and creativity. 

What were the key insights of the two days? 1) Coffee has become a tax on interactions; 2) we need spaces to make a mess, be directionless, take a risk and not fear being unproductive;  3) art makes space – it isn’t a thing we add to space. This table, then. as ‘ritournelle’ – a space that emerges through the scratching of pencils and the putting of paint on paper; through conversations and encounters, and a shared desire to do this again.

With thanks to Joe, Lucy, Seth, AJ, Emma, Jordan, Neve and Rebekah for all their hard work, creativity and insight.

Post-traumatic vases

Joseph Edwardes-Evans has made a series of extraordinary, tiny vases which respond to the matter of post-traumatic landscapes.  Each of them is made with found materials typically discarded as waste or scrap. Twisted fragments of metal are mounted on slices of carefully sanded wood from plants such as buddleia, which are considered by many as  weeds. The material remains of our past, neither forgotten nor remembered, re-emerge and are re-formed in the present.

What is a post-traumatic art? The telling of an anteriority, which is to the past what the memory is to reality, taking form and placing its truth in the present. The post-traumatic vase is the oblique arrival, and presentation, of this anteriority where it meets the present, in the way that a vase puts forward as spectacle something past, dead or dying, and hovers it between our world, where it can be contemplated, and the non-world, to which it belongs.

(landscapes of avoidance)

In 1824, when Charles Dickens was 12 or 13 years old, his father was arrested for debt and incarcerated in the Marshalsea prison in Southwark. The young Charles was sent out to work in Warren’s Blacking Factory (located in Hungerford Stairs, then Chandos Street) and found himself living alone in lodgings on Little College Street in Camden Town.

In John Forster’s The Life of Charles Dickens (1875), which was based in part on autobiographical fragments given to him by Dickens himself, we read the following description of life at Warren’s:

The blacking-warehouse was the last house on the left-hand side of the way, at old Hungerford Stairs. It was a crazy, tumble-down old house, abutting of course on the river, and literally overrun with rats. Its wainscoted rooms, and its rotten floors and staircase, and the old grey rats swarming down in the cellars, and the sound of their squeaking and scuffling coming up the stairs at all times, and the dirt and decay of the place, rise up visibly before me, as if I were there again. The counting-house was on the first floor, looking over the coal-barges and the river. There was a recess in it, in which I was to sit and work. My work was to cover the pots of paste-blacking; first with a piece of oil-paper, and then with a piece of blue paper; to tie them round with a string; and then to clip the paper close and neat, all round, until it looked as smart as a pot of ointment from an apothecary’s shop. When a certain number of grosses of pots had attained this pitch of perfection, I was to paste on each a printed label, and then go on again with more pots. Two or three other boys were kept at similar duty down-stairs on similar wages. One of them came up, in a ragged apron and a paper cap, on the first Monday morning, to show me the trick of using the string and tying the knot. His name was Bob Fagin; and I took the liberty of using his name, long afterwards, in Oliver Twist.

A few pages later, Forster quotes Dickens again, this time describing his adult responses to the site of his childhood trauma:

Until old Hungerford market was pulled down, until old Hungerford Stairs were destroyed, and the very nature of the ground changed, I never had the courage to go back to the place where my servitude began. I never saw it. I could not endure to go near it. For many years, when I came near to Robert Warren’s in the Strand, I crossed over to the opposite side of the way, to avoid a certain smell of the cement they put upon the blacking-corks, which reminded me of what I was once. It was a very long time before I liked to go up Chandos Street. My old way home by the borough made me cry, after my eldest child could speak.

In my walks at night I have walked there often, since then, and by degrees I have come to write this. It does not seem a tithe of what I might have written, or of what I meant to write.

It is not uncommon for post-traumatic landscapes to be structured by strategies of avoidance – of places, people or activities which trigger memories or thoughts of the traumatic event. Let’s say that someone undergoes a traumatic experience in Berlin.   In the first instance, they may simply decide never to return to Berlin and thereby avoid putting themselves in the situation of being confronted with disruptive memories they would rather not have.  They may also, however, decide  to cut all ties with friends who live in Berlin, for they remind them when they speaks to them of what happened there. They may find it difficult to answer the phone or read their emails, in case they bring news from Berlin. They may become uncomfortable or upset when watching the news on TV and an item about Berlin comes up. If Berlin is in the news, they may decide to no longer watch the TV, listen to the radio or read the newspapers. They will look away from the news stands, their heart racing, in case the front page carries an image or a story that reminds them of the traumatic event, or presents any new information about it. They may be forced to make changes to their professional practice and networks in order to avoid attending conferences and meetings in Berlin, or perhaps meeting colleagues from Berlin in conferences and meetings elsewhere. A newsagent’s decision to stock a German-language newspaper means that a whole detour has to be invented, in order that they do not put themselves in a situation where they might accidentally see a headline that perhaps has a resonance with what happened to them before.

As what happened in Berlin – and Berlin itself – present themselves to them in so many ways, and as their strategies of avoiding anything to do with Berlin proliferate and become more complex, so – to others – their behaviours and responses become more oblique. Avoidance (like trauma, perhaps) is perceived only in the constellation of behaviours and responses that coalesce around it. Sometimes, avoidance behaviours seem so far removed from the original trauma – (why are they refusing to go into the newsagents to buy a coffee from the machine? Why are they making us cross the station to buy a coffee somewhere else, when we’re already running late for our train?) – that they defy understanding, causing others to be irritated, impatient, curious or even angry.

The relief that accompanies the avoidance of trauma reminders is fleeting (though gratifying in the immediate present); each new day threatens the subject with a series of mnemonic and associative dangers. The post-traumatic landscape is constantly and vigilantly re-mapped. As more and more experiences and previously neutral stimuli present themselves as potential dangers, the number of ‘safe routes’ through the landscape is diminished. A space experienced as benign may, due to the spiralling, rhizomic association of perceived dangers, be re-cast as off-bounds.  The world becomes significantly smaller.

Dickens felt more able to be near the former site of Warren’s factory only when ‘the very nature of the ground changed’. The transformation to which he refers took place in 1831, following an Act of Parliament that ordered the demolition of the increasingly insalubrious buildings of the Hungerford market area (of which Warren’s was one) and the incorporation of a new company to oversee the site’s redevelopment.

“Old Hungerford Market (from a view published in 1805)”. The bust of Sir Edward Hungerford (d.1711) is visible set into the north wall.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:OldHungerfordMarket1805.jpg
“Hungerford Market, from the bridge, in 1850” (1878)
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HungerfordMarket1850.jpg

The new Hungerford market was a dramatic and ornate construction that had little in common architecturally with the site Dickens had known as a twelve year-old child. And yet the site is clearly sticky with its past. The Hungerford name lingered in the area, lending itself to a new hall, a street and a bridge; but perhaps more importantly, the affective resonance of what happened in that place continues to play out. When, as an adult, Dickens finds himself taking the same route he used to take as a child, he experiences involuntary responses that are both embodied and emotional. It is interesting too that the site of trauma bleeds beyond its original spatial containment. Dickens avoids Chandos Street, where Warren’s relocated, because the smells coming from the business’s new premises remind him unbearably of the place where he worked as a child.

Although he mentions the area around Warren’s in his notes to Forster, he barely spoke of this early traumatic experience during his lifetime. His family found it equally difficult to address and articulate what had happened to him: ‘My father and mother had been stricken dumb upon it’ (The National Archives, 2010). Even as the adult Dickens walked those streets, learning, somehow, to absorb the mnemonic shock of the place, he found himself unable to put those place feelings into words. Instead, they play out in a sensory, affective register, the marks of which can be read only obliquely through his scarred spatial practice.

Listen to Emma Bolland’s intervention at Post-Traumatic Landscapes

An audio recording of Emma Bolland’s intervention at the recent occursus symposium on post-traumatic landscapes is now available to listen to here.

Emma Bolland’s EVERY PLACE A PALIMPSEST (Part Two) focuses on Prince Phillip Playing Fields (municipal playing fields located on the borders of the Scott Hall and Chapeltown areas of Leeds) and incorporates texts by John Newling, Gordon Burn and David Peace.

Presented at CADS, Sheffield, Wednesday 22 May 2013. Recorded by Brian Lewis.

Programme for Post-Traumatic Landscapes Symposium, May 22nd

  • 10am – Open & coffee
  • Post-traumatic landscapes? Amanda Crawley Jackson
  • 10.20am – Neepsend to Parson Cross. Paul Allender and Eddy Dreadnought
  • 10.40am – The Meridian. Brian Lewis
  • 11am – America Deserta Revisited. Tom Keeley.
  • 11.20am – Discussion
  • 11.40am – Regeneration as Trauma. Julia Dobson
  • 12pm – Cyprien Gaillard’s work in Glasgow. Suzanne Robinson
  • 12.20pm – Discussion
  • 12.30 – Entropy at Charnwood Quarry. A film by Martin Blundell and Mark Goodwin
  • 12.45 – Discussion

1pm –  Free Lunch

Choose from a selection of:
A Selection of Freshly Baked Soft and Seeded Rolls

Authentic Mixed Samosa Selection V
Chicken Yakitori Skewer H
Yorkshire Crisps
Creamy Lancashire and Roast Vegetable Quiche V
Mini Peppered Steak Pie
Selection of Yorkshire Cocktail Sausages with Barbecue Dip
Selected Fresh Fruits
Mini Cake Bites
A selection of mini cakes including chocolate brownies, flapjacks, tiffin and
lemon drizzle cake.

  • 1.45pm – The Baroque Melancholy of Hashima. Mark Pendleton
  • 2.30pm – a slip of the land / a slip of the language. Paul Evans
  • 2.50pm – Discussion and coffee/tea & biscuits
  • 3.10pm – The Ghosts of Furnace Park. Luke Bennett
  • 3.30pm – Every Place a Palimpsest, Part 2. Emma Bolland
  • 3.50pm – Closing discussion
  • 4.30pm – Close

The symposium takes place at CADS, 5-7 Smithfield, Sheffield, S3 7AR.

Exhibition of works by MilkyWayYouWillHearMeCall at Post-Traumatic Landscapes symposium

PALIMPSEST presents work by ‘MilkyWayYouWillHearMeCall’ a collaboration between Emma Bolland, Thomas Rodgers and Judit Bodor. Using texts from 1980, a novel by David Peace which re-imagines the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper as a starting points, they are making visits to key sites referenced in the book, enacting research as ‘performance for camera’, walking and talking, collecting a forensic flora of ‘edgeland’ botanical specimens, and mediating their experiences through the lens of Peace’s texts. The outcomes of this project are open-ended, and include drawings, photographs, sound works, film, performance, and texts. In addition to an ongoing series of exhibitions, the project has been presented at Redrawing The Maps, a week of events contextualised by the John Berger ‘Art and Property Now exhibition at Somerset House, London. Emma Bolland will be presenting ”What Is A Book If It Will Not Be A Book’, referencing the creation of a creative codex for the project at Impact8, an international conference of print at The University of Dundee.

The research blog for the project can be found at: http://youwillhearmecall.wordpress.com/

Emma Bolland paper at Post-Traumatic Landscapes symposium

EVERY PLACE A PALIMPSEST  Part Two

Emma Bolland

The paper will focus on Prince Phillip Playing Fields; municipal playing fields located on the borders of the Scott Hall and Chapeltown areas of Leeds.  This was the site of the murder, and subsequent discovery of the body of Wilma McCann: a victim of Peter Sutcliffe, the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’ The paper will examine the anonymity of the site, and the exploration of the idea of the ‘non-space’ as an attempted erasure of traumatic histories; referencing the writings of Gordon Burn and John Newling and their examination of Gloucester City Council’s demolition of 25 Cromwell Street; the home of Fred and Rosemary West. The author’s history and ‘pre-history’ of a continuing personal and creative relationship with the site will locate the experience of site as mediated through the lenses, mythologies and narratives of contested memories, media representations, and pre-existing themes of landscape and trauma as central to her practice. The conclusion will examine the site’s position in relation to the author’s on going collaborative project  ‘MilkyWayYouWillHearMeCall’, (the project blog can be found at http://youwillhearmecall.wordpress.com/ ). The paper will be contextualised by an exhibition of visual work from the project.

BIOGRAPHY

 Emma Bolland is an artist and writer. She resumed her visual and written practice in 2004, after several years as a professional musician, focussing on narratives of danger and sexual risk filtered through the site, landscape, and contemporary and folk myth, using media including drawing, installation, film, text, performance and sound.

To reserve a free place at the symposium, please visit our eventbrite page.

The Baroque Melancholy of Hashima: Post-traumatic landscapes symposium

The Baroque Melancholy of Hashima

This presentation is a joint iteration of our performance project Hashima, begun in 2012, and continuing with AHRC ‘Care for Future’ funding. Combining the work of a performance theorist, geographer, geologist, environmentalist, historian of Japanese culture, and visual artist, the project is based on a series of field trips to Hashima, Japan, a former site of intensive offshore coal-mining and once the most densely populated spot on earth.  It is perhaps best known in the popular imagination as the base of the mysterious, oedipal villain in the recent Bond movie Skyfall. Our field trips allow us to gather materials to be reworked into a number of creative outputs, including postcards, improvisational scores, site-specific performances, soundscape, and installations. Underpinning the project is a collective concern with the future of ruins in a traumatised landscape. More specifically, we want to rethink the meaning of ecological horizons through a non-sentimental encounter with a human and non-human past, present and future. While we do not ignore the specificity of Hashima, we want to draw out its allegorical value as a site of monstrous transformation and futural possibility.

Presenter Biographies:

Professor Deborah Dixon works at the boundary of the arts and sciences, including looking at “monstrous” geography and BioArt, where artists take living tissue as their artistic medium. She teaches in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow.

Dr Carina Fearnley is a Lecturer in Environmental Hazards at Aberystwyth University and a specialist in Disaster Risk Reduction. She focuses on the role of understanding and communicating uncertainty, risk, and complexity to develop resilience to natural and environmental hazards.

Lee Hassall is a performance artist, course leader in Fine Arts at the University of Worcester and a PhD candidate at Aberystwyth University. His research proposes reclaiming a sense of the visual within the study of landscape and explores and contextualises articulation of the visual in relation to the performative.

Professor Carl Lavery teaches theatre and performance at Aberystwyth University. He has authored several books on space and performance, and is currently involved in a number of AHRC funded projects exploring the relationship between community, ecology and environment.

Dr Mark Pendleton is Lecturer of Japanese Studies at the University of Sheffield. A social and cultural historian, he is interested in how people relate to the past through memory texts, sites and practices. He is currently working on a large-scale research project on modern and industrial ruins in Japan.

To reserve a free place at the symposium (which will take place on May 22nd, 10am-4pm), please visit our eventbrite page.

Tom Keeley paper at Post-Traumatic Landscapes Symposium

America Deserta Revisited

Tom Keeley

In the 1980s English architecture historian and critic Reyner Banham published an account of his travels across his adopted home of the United States, Scenes in America Deserta. This critic-cum-tourist model revealed the eccentric byways of American culture while assaying its range of natural features. At a point when the country’s national character and international standing were in transitional, if not perilous, condition, America Deserta Revisited documented a journey across the United States in the summer of 2011. Engaging the country by train at a time when petrol was at the centre of debate in the American economy and politics, this series looked for the key urban issues facing a country in flux.

The third instalment of the series focussed on the city of Detroit, Michigan; a city that has been described, almost mythically in recent years, as the symbol of post-industrial decline. America Deserta Revisited went to explore whether a new model of urbanism, of ingenuity, could provide solutions for the city’s future.

America Deserta Revisited was made into series of publications, and published as essays for the Italian design and architecture magazine Domus.

Biography

Tom Keeley is an artist, writer and researcher concerned with exploring unsung geographies, everyday landscapes and overlooked architectures, often through printed matter. His work is in the collections of the National Art Library at the V&A; and the School of Architecture Library at Princeton University.

http://www.range-editions.com

tom keeley

To reserve a free place at the symposium (which will take place on May 22nd, 10am-4pm), please visit our eventbrite page.

Paul Evans paper at Post-Traumatic Landscapes symposium

a slip of the land |

a slip of the language

Paul Evans

The story of the various meanings of the English word ‘landscape’ makes up an interesting example of the “dynamic construal” of meaning. The ‘Seven Wonders’ project, based on Thomas Hobbes 16th century poem ‘De Mirabilibus Pecci – BEING THE WONDERS OF THE PEAK IN DARBY-SHIRE’, is also a dynamic and collaborative structuring of experience, juxtaposing contemporary poetry and painting.

In this presentation I will reconfigure various poetic/painterly juxtapositions, allowing a degree of slippage to create a new geology of meaning. Focusing on three of the 7 Wonders: Kinder Downfall, Thor’s Cave and Peak Cavern, I will present poems and paintings in new combinations, including ‘Phlegmatic’ by Fay Musselwhite and ‘The Ascent of Kinder Scout’ by Peter Riley (which marks 80 years since the mass trespass that inspired the recent ‘right to roam’ legislation). I will use these to discuss the possibility that all landscape may be ‘post-traumatic’ in the sense of geological process.

I will also ask why the Peak District, the world’s second most popular national park (and a site of immense geological trauma) has, somewhat ironically, come to represent a ‘breathing place’: a site of physical and emotional restoration that encroaches well within the city boundaries of Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Biography

Paul Evans is a contemporary artist based in Sheffield. His practice encompasses a variety of creative strategies including drawing, painting and animation. Often working in collaboration with poets, academics and graphic designers, his recent practice reflects a profound interest in the relationship between the human animal and nature.

http://www.seven-wonders.org

http://www.pkevans.co.uk

kinderdownfall2

Paul Evans, The Downfall III (2012), oil on board.

To reserve a free place at the symposium (which will take place on May 22nd, 10am-4pm), please visit our eventbrite page.

Entropy @ Charnwood Quarry : Martyn Blundell and Mark Goodwin at Post-Traumatic Landscapes symposium

In early Spring 2012, Martyn Blundell and Mark Goodwin entered the disused quarter of Charnwood Quarry, near Loughborough. From the quarry rim they worked their way down … passed beneath the M1 Motorway … then entered abandoned workshops and offices …

…  Entropy @ Charnwood Quarry, early Spring 2012  is a film-poem made from that ‘journey’  …

Film duration: approx 9 minutes

Film production: Martyn Blundell

Poetry, vocals and audio production: Mark Goodwin

Biographies

Martyn Blundell is a video artist who has, since 1995, exhibited his work widely, both in the UK and internationally. In his current video work, Martyn is interested in: ‘prompting reflection on the relationship between then and now, presence and absence; and looking for the emotional traces left behind from our everyday encounters with our environment and our species.’

http://martynblundell.blogspot.co.uk/

Mark Goodwin has published three full-length poetry collections, and three chapbooks. Much of his work is about ‘landscape’. Mark has a particular interest in ‘rurban’ rim-lands and the dilapidated. He has exhibited and often collaborated with Sheffield’s Longbarrow Press, through audio-recording poetry outdoors. The following is from Mark’s chapbook, Layers of Un, published by Shearsman Books:

a partly eradicated

stairwell to

a plain of waste

land droning

with a fizz

of worlds’

dissolving

http://www.shearsman.com/pages/books/authors/goodwinA.html

Martyn1

Martyn2

Reserve a free place at the symposium (which will take place on May 22nd, 10am-4pm) here.

Paul Allender and Eddy Dreadnought paper at Post-Traumatic Landscapes symposium

Neepsend to Parson Cross: a Migration

Paul Allender and Eddy Dreadnought

This paper presents direct, lived episodes from Paul of his childhood in Neepsend, and rehousing to the Parson Cross estate, a few miles north. Alternating with these memories is commentary from Eddy, which seeks to briefly contextualize them. These contexts include the interacting physical and social geographies of Neepsend over time, the nature of trauma, memory, and the psychiatry of PTSD.

The paper is obsessed with the River Don, and the turbulence of a student death in a raft race. The authors will touch on their ritual performance of ‘abreaction’ for the river, a Deleuzian ‘body without organs’.

The authors will also touch on other local flows and migrations, including the daily flow of non-resident day and night workers and their visitors into this now depopulated and virtually post-industrial area.

Biographies

Paul Allender works part-time as a Teaching Associate in the School of Education at the University of Sheffield and part-time as an engaged artist on Parson Cross council estate in Sheffield on a Yorkshire Artspace funded programme. He lived in Neepsend in Sheffield from age 0-11 and moved from there to Parson Cross.

He has made a short film about discovering art on Parson Cross. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mX6ec64tIs

Eddy Dreadnought is a full-time contemporary artist. Last year he devised a walk around Upperthorpe, posted on the Occursus website, and showed related drawings and a DVD at a PlastiCités event. His favourite part of Upperthorpe is Neepsend, and he is delighted to collaborate with Paul who grew up there.

Eddy’s work can be seen on http://eddydreadnought.tumblr.com/

Student boat race

 

Student boat race

Book your free place at the symposium (which will take place on May 22nd, 10am-4pm) here.

Julia Dobson paper at Post-Traumatic Landscapes symposium

Julia Dobson

In 1992-1993 French filmmaker Dominique Cabrera was commissioned to make a series of documentaries on the regeneration of Val Fourré, a densely populated banlieue / ‘outer-city’ area west of Paris. This regeneration project centred on the initial demolition of a set of tower blocks. In contrast to the public discourses which demonised the built environment as cause and emblem of social disrepair and presented  social and economic progress as inevitable consequences of serial regenerations, Cabrera’s  films trace the loss of shared place and collective identity. Viewing regeneration as trauma Cabrera’s  film-making strategies work to assert subjective sensual experience and to play with the constructions of time associated with the photographic and the filmic image respectively to assert a durationality of shared space and the present inscription of memory.

Biography

Julia Dobson is Reader in French Film and Performance at the University of Sheffield. She has published on the theatre of Hélène Cixous, performing objects, French film and documentary. Her recent book Negotiating the Auteur (Manchester University Press 2012) includes a chapter on the documentary and fiction films of Dominique Cabrera.

http://www.shef.ac.uk/french/staff/jdobson

Julia Dobson

Dominique Cabrera, Chronique d’une banlieue ordinaire (1993)

Reserve your free place at the symposium (which will take place on May 22nd, 10am-4pm) here.

Luke Bennett paper at Post-Traumatic Landscapes symposium

The Ghosts of Furnace Park

Luke Bennett

Seeing is in part a matter of projecting, and the blanker, the more mundane the space, the more we project onto it in order to animate it and render it meaningful. But, no one reading – no matter how thorough – ever fully captures the site itself. We hunt out and take that which nourishes us. We ignore that which is tasteless to our particular palates. We all search only for treasures that we hope – or expect – to find there.

This paper will present a subjective account of gazing upon a plot of derelict land in the centre of Sheffield, of the personal ghosts summoned in the attempt to commune with other ghosts that the archive tells me I should find at this site. The piece will show how onlookers and those engaging with such sites are haunted by the ghosts of other places, and the spectre of things that may or may not be present at the site under examination. This is a sideways haunting, but a haunting none the less. It is a disturbance of thought that has very real – and very practical – effects upon the land that such anxieties afflict.

Biography

Luke is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of the Built Environment, Sheffield Hallam University. His research interests are centred around the intersection of materialities, ideas and practices in the built environment, with particular focus upon dereliction, urban exploration, metal theft and practices of land ownership.

Luke’s blog is at: http://lukebennett13.wordpress.com

Luke Bennett

Book your free place at the symposium (which will take place on May 22nd, 10am-4pm) here.

Brian Lewis paper at Post-Traumatic Landscapes symposium

The Meridian

Brian Lewis

‘He wept because he could not prevent himself from departing on a trip when the need took him; he deserted family, work and daily life to walk as fast as he could, straight ahead…’

Mad Travellers, Ian Hacking

This presentation will open with a discussion of the ambulant automatism of the fugueur, with specific reference to Ian Hacking’s Mad Travellers (which reflects on a moment in European culture when ‘compulsive walking’ was recognized as a discrete illness).

It will then consider distinctions (and similarities) between the compulsive walking addressed by Hacking (movement through landscape impelled by trauma) and the speaker’s practice of immersive walking (movement through landscape impelled towards trauma). Through case studies, including accounts of ‘under-resourced’ long-distance walks undertaken by the speaker (culminating in a night walk from Hull to Spurn Point), the presentation will detail the effects of sleeplessness, hunger and exposure (and other ambient conditions) on the walker’s experience of the landscape.

It will also posit a relationship between a psychological estrangement from the landscape (by trauma accrued through walking) and physical immersion in the landscape, with reference to Burke’s concept of the sublime: a region defined by that which is “dark, uncertain and confused.”

Biography

Brian Lewis is editor and curator of Longbarrow Press, a Sheffield-based poetry publisher. His creative practice includes collaborations with poets on film and audio works that focus on marginal landscapes. He regularly undertakes extended walks in the east of England with the objective of depleting his physical and psychological resources.

http://thehalt.wordpress.com

DidcotAug2011

Ph. Brian Lewis, 2013

Book your free place at the symposium (which will take place on May 22nd 2013, 10am-4pm) here.

Post-traumatic landscapes update

Our programme of speakers will be announced very shortly, but as a teaser we thought we would let you know that they include Brian Lewis, Emma Bolland, Luke Bennett, Mark Pendleton, Martyn Blundell and Mark Goodwin, Tom Keeley, Julia Dobson, Amanda Crawley Jackson, Paul Allender and Eddy Dreadnought. The event will also include an exhibition and screenings.

To book a free place, please visit our eventbrite page.

Reminder: Call for papers – post-traumatic landscapes

Call for papers and interventions: Post-Traumatic Landscapes (Sheffield, May 22 2013)

In the third of our series of cross-disciplinary symposia, we’ll be exploring post-traumatic landscapes.

The symposium will take place on Wednesday May 22nd, 10am-4pm. There will also be a screening of Detroit Wild City (dir. Florent Tillon) at the Showroom Cinema on May 21st, as part of the symposium programme.

The topics we would like to cover in this symposium include (but are not limited to):

socio-geological approaches to post-traumatic landscapes; physical traumas on the landscape and how they’re erased/covered over; contamination as a post-traumatic trace; the politics of erasure, regeneration, ‘moving on’; aftermath (consequences or after-effects of an event; second growth); ruptures in forgetting; photograph as a post-traumatic artefact; blankness and invisibility; absorption; landscape and PTSD – hypervigilance, structures of forgetting, avoidance; plasticity (cognitive reformatting, etc); affect, vibrant matter, materiality; the geologic now; the archaeology of the contemporary past (Victor Buchli, Gavin Lucas); beyond the ruin

If you would like to submit a proposal for a 20-minute paper, screening or small exhibition, please email Dr Amanda Crawley Jackson (a.j.jackson@sheffield.ac.uk) by April 25th.

Hull (again)

Hull4

Hull1

Hull2

Hull3

The Reckitts chimney stands 141m tall. Located on Morley Street in Hull, it’s where Reckitts, in 1884, began making synthetic ultramarine (often known as dolly blue). Used as a laundry product, ultramarine prevents the yellowing of white fabric when it is washed and enhances the brightness of colours. It is now widely used in the cosmetics, paints and automobile industries.

Natural ultramarine was derived  from ground lapis lazuli, sourced in the mountains of Afghanistan. Artists reserved the use of this expensive bright blue pigment for their most important (usually religious) works. Cennino Cennini (b. c.1370 – c. 1440) described it as “illustrious, beautiful, and most perfect, beyond all other colors”. Vermeer used natural ultramarine extensively (Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, 1663-1664). In 1828, the French chemist Jean-Baptiste Guimet developed a synthetic equivalent, which was used for example by Renoir (Les Parapluies, c. 1880), Monet (Gare St Lazare, 1877) and Pissarro (La Côte des boeufs, 1877).

For decades, the chimney pumped sulphur dioxide into Hull’s atmosphere. My grandparents lived in Stoneferry, the area in which this factory was located. I remember the sweet smells drifting from the cocoa processing plant on Cleveland Street and the hot metallic tang of the factories by the river.

(Image licensed under Creative Commons; http://www.mylearning.org/local-history-pack–a-how-to-guide/images/2-1838/)

Engaging with the city’s past

A number of the discussions we’ve had about the city over the last two years have touched on how we engage with its past. We’ve discussed post-traumatic urbanism through the lens of Lebbeus Woods’ War and Architecture (see also the fascinating exhibition of Woods’ early drawings) and have also begun to think through our engagement with (or perhaps literal and/or conceptual avoidance of) recent sites of trauma in the city. We’ve walked around Kelham Island, considering the ways in which a city’s history becomes heritage, but also how certain narratives become dominant and survive, while others are minorised and erased.

Walter Crane’s 1885 design for the Commonweal journal

Our current project engages with figures and movements from Sheffield’s past: Ebenezer Elliott, the Sheffield Socialist Society, Edward Carpenter, the Chartists… And we would like to invite people to contribute their thoughts, memories and expertise to an archive that will be accessible through our new interactive web page (scheduled to go live in May this year) but will also form a basis for a series of radio broadcasts and exhibitions we’re planning for summer 2012.

We’re not historians (though we count historians among our numbers). Our backgrounds are in literature, philosophy, art, neuroscience, poetry, politics and the environmental sciences. So our aim is less to provide an account of Sheffield’s history, than to relate it to the issues we confront today; to confront dominant politics and policies with our creative investigations of the past and understand more about the ways in which the shape and narratives of our city have been constructed, for better or for worse, over time.

In 1887 we took a large house and shop in Scotland Street [in Sheffield], a poor district of the town; and opened a café, using the large room above for a meeting and lecture room, and the house for a joint residence for some of us who were more immediately concerned in carrying on the business. We had all sorts of social gatherings, lectures, teas, entertainments in the Hall – the wives and sisters of the “comrades” helping, especially in the social work; we had Annie Besant, Charlotte Wilson, [Peter] Kropotkin, [Henry] Hyndman, and other notables down to speak for us; we gave teas to the slum-children who dwelt in the neighboring crofts and alleys (but these had at first to be given up on account of the poor little things tearing themselves and each other to pieces, perfect mobs of them, in their frantic attempts to gain admittance – a difficulty which no arrangement of tickets or of personal supervision seemed to obviate); and we organized excursions into municipal politics; and country propaganda. This last was often amusing as well as interesting. While, in the towns, as time went on, audiences grew in numbers and attentiveness, it still remained very difficult to capture the country districts. The miners would really not be uninterested, but in their sullen combative way they would take care not to show it. Many a time we have gone down to some mining village and taken up our stand on some heap of slag or broken wall, and the miners would come round and stand about or sit down deliberately with their backs to the speaker, and spit, and converse, as if quite heedless of the oration going on. But after a time, and as speaker succeeded speaker, one by one they would turn round – their lower jaws dropping – fairly captivated by the argument. It was much the same with the country rustics – but as a rule less successful. I remember on one occasion seven or eight of us, armed with literature, going for a long country walk to Hathersage in the Derbyshire dales. We had Tom Maguire with us, from Leeds, an excellent speaker, full of Irish wit and persuasiveness. We set him upon a stoneheap in the middle of the village and standing round him ourselves while he spoke, acted as decoy ducks to bring the villagers together. The latter full of curiosity came, in moderate numbers, but not one of them would approach nearer than a distance of twenty or thirty yards – just far enough to make the speaker despair of really reaching them. In vain we separated and going round tried to coax them to come nearer. In vain the speaker shouted himself hoarse and fired off his best jokes. Not a bit of it – they weren’t going to be fooled by us! and at last red in the face and out of breath and with a string of curses, Tom descended from his cairn, and we all, shaking the dust of the village off our feet, departed!

I meanwhile and during these years, not only took part in our local work, but spoke and lectured in the Socialist connection all round the country – at Bradford, Halifax, Leeds, Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh, Hull, Liverpool, Nottingham and other places – my subjects the failures of the present Commercial system, and the possible reorganization of the future. As to the Café, we were only able to hold to it for a year. Though quite a success from the propagandist point of view, financially it was a failure. The refreshment department was not patronized nearly enough to make it pay. The neighborhood was an exceedingly poor one. And so we were obliged to surrender the place, and retire to smaller quarters. During that year however I really lived most of the time at the Scotland Street place. I occupied a large attic at the top of the house, almost high enough to escape the smells of the street below, but exposed to showers of blacks which fell from the innumerable chimneys around. In the early morning at 5 a.m. there was the strident sound of the ‘hummers’ and the clattering of innumerable clogs of men and girls going to their work, and on till late at night there were drunken cries and shouting. Far around stretched nothing but factory chimneys and foul courts inhabited by the wretched workers. It was, I must say, frightfully depressing; and all the more so because of tragic elements in my personal life at the time. Only the enthusiasm of our social work, and the abiding thoughts which had inspired Towards Democracy kept me going. I spent my spare time during the year in arranging and editing the collection of songs and music called Chants of Labour – a thing which might have been much better done by some one else, but I could find no one to do it. And it was a queer experience, collecting these songs of hope and enthusiasm, and composing such answering tunes and harmonies as I could, in the midst of these gloomy and discordant conditions.

As I say, we only stayed a year here, and as far as my health was concerned I don’t think I could have endured it much longer. I realized the terrible drawback to health and vitality consequent on living in these slums of manufacturing towns, and the way these conditions are inevitably sapping the strength of our populations.

Edward Carpenter, My Days and Dreams. Source: http://www.edwardcarpenter.net/ecdd7.htm

Walter Crane, The Capitalist Vampire, 1885.

If you would like to contribute material, texts, images or ideas, or perhaps would like to join us on our regular walks and talks, please contact amandacrawleyjackson@gmail.com for more information.