Wednesday, 17 July 2013

a really rather magical day

One wednesday – turned out to be a really rather magical day.
the day began sort of like this

me, with jeni (in-situ in-residence 003)
ripping up and rolling up
in  a space that had known more active times.

12 months ago, william and i had sat on a picnic bench in this space, drinking pakisanti tea freshly brewed for us by a near-by resident

the picnic bench has since gone
burnt to buggery
around a midnight hour
near-by residents alarmed, raised the alarm
fire extinguishing men doused the flames
and removed the molten plastic lump that was once a functional attraction
leaving behind the one lone charred bench

rickety wobbly and charcoal covered.
no longer  

in june 2013
the space looked like this

tall grasses protruding from paving
no where to sit
no people
a once active hub
no-one taking ownership – including the owners
(hear-say says railtrack, or the council)

the once lively little space
where conversations happened
seems to beg a new conversation
and so I began
with shears and gloves
pulling and snipping
from this 

to this

selecting what should stay and what should go
personal taste

and plantains

pulling up plants
revealing paving
revealing conversations

I say:
i’m not from the council

I say:
i’m not from the council
my answer caused bafflement

I had wanted to activate the space
to create a spot
where things can happen
where things did happen
where things could happen once more
I hadn’t expected so many to be so enthused at the sight of weeding
I hadn’t expected so many conversations lamenting the loss of a picnic place
I hadn’t expected so many to be so dependent upon the council
and I didn’t expected a reward for doing something I wanted to do
but it came
contained in a mug
accompanied by tuna sandwiches

my next encounter in the space
with jeni
ripping up and rolling up

books retired from library shelves
refuse for recycling
retrieved from the county council cycle
but not reprieved
these books  - still fated to pulp – will pulp via art

books begetting boscage
where exactly is still to be negotiated
likewise the form

the magic
that happened
this day
couldn’t have happened
without the clearing
without the rolling
without the conversations
over months
getting to know people
people getting to know me
everything coming together in a moment
of space
and serendipity
a man with a dog
a man I have gotten to know
a man who could – as it happened – lay his hands on a table with chairs
a swift exchange of words
parting with
back in a mo
after a mo
up the hill
a mini dumper
the man with his dog
three men, one dog, and
a picnic table
with seating

time for more tea
this time
picked form this garden
brewed on site
drunk from a couple of cups by a couple of lasses sat at a blue table

it may not seem like much
but there's a tale to be told
that’s taken many months unfold

and before the day was done
the near-by residents
excited and agog
at the good fortune the day had bestowed
brought out drills and bits and bolts 
and secured their picnic table
in  - what is now – a community space
where art will happen

a socially engaging process invites the viewer to become an active participant, the process of engagement and responsiveness between the artist and the participant being the artwork. in this context ‘artwork’ ceases to be a noun but becomes a verb. (Kemp, (1999) A baker’s dozen for Gustav Metzger. In  I. Cole (Ed.) Gustav Metzger retrospectives. (pp .29-43). Oxford: MoMA.)