Friday, 4 December 2015

CRASH 2016

An opportunity for young artists to come together, create socially relevant art and get to really know how to not just survive, but thrive in the art world!

We couldn't be happier to announce this!

One of our young artists in-residence, Elly Langlois, an astoundingly talented and insightful recent graduate, has been hard at work pulling together a unique residency for 20 other emerging artists to take part in.

From day one at In-Situ, in January this year, Elly has been investing some hardcore passion into an aspiration - to bring together emerging artists from across the UK to create a strong, supportive network; have free roam over a 7 acre derelict mill and the time and materials to begin making socially-relevant, impactful work; learning from each other, established artists, and sector experts to begin building a sustainable art career.

We're so excited... and we just can't hide it!

Good News, Brierfield!

Celebrating, Creating, Investigating and Restarting - Time for Good News in Brierfield!

Have you heard Northlight Mill's clock chiming?
Stopped clocks are believed to have a strong link to sadness. Northlight Mill's clock, seen  from Brierfield town center and the motorway, had been stopped for 5 years until Fill The Mill - an art event we put on over National Heritage Weekend this September.
An In-Situ project for collecting, communicating, celebrating and creating good news was launched through the reanimating of the sturdy old mill's clock; the clock was given a voice again: a tick tock as its hands went round with a chiming bell at its heart, and a vocal chord (assisted with by the public) - its lever/pully.
But its soul is just starting out - good news still being rung into and out of it - with messages about & tokens of your and our good news placed into a ballot box at the clock's feet. Together, we have been collecting many reasons to celebrate life in Brierfield!

At Burton Gardens & Around Brierfield
What A Load of Rubbish! is a part of the Good News project and is an intertwined strand of projects exploring waste and happiness. Waste and 'overgrown wasteland' are some of the most talked about issues in Brierfield, and so, to start changing the conversation and action taking place, we have begun clearing and cleaning up especially bad waste-dumping spots around Brierfield, whilst simultaneously collecting and creating good news.
We have also been drawing out good news happening in nature around Brierfield - the growth of wild plants!

Watch for updates as we share all this good news with you each week

At the Brierfield Light Switch On
The Shop, Nelson
Good News is Everywhere

Thank you to all those who've shared their good news so far!
We hope you've had and will continue to have as much fun as we have so far.
Here are just a few of the many endearing good news stories that have been shared with us over the past few months, we just wanted to share a few with everyone! Have a good day:
  • Someone stood on the bridge at the mill for the first time in 13 years
  • Someone has optimism for the future
  • A couple are now approved adopters
  • A couple booked their wedding
  • Someone has been out looking for bugs
  • Somebody's mum's exhaust broke and now it sounds like a Ferrari
  • Someone has won a medal in Ju-jit-su
  • Someone has now been to the funfair
  • Autumn is beautiful
& Barry got a new toaster!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Unit 5 Brierfield Cinema returns

We are excited to be working with Cinema for All on building a temporary cinema in Brierfield (Northlight) Mill over the coming weeks, read more on their website:

We are also working with Friends of Colne Library on a pop up cinema as part of the blues festival

Water wheel developments

Work began last week on the develop of the water to power the clock and other elements at the mill. Here is a short film of the work Kerry, Paul and V3 Power have been doing to connect the rain water from the roof to power the wheel. Lots of experiments on where its coming from and which is the best source and managing the storage.

Red Plate Press The SHOP residency

Please find a account of David Armes residency in The SHOP during the last 3 months restoring a printing press in the SHOP window

Friday, 8 May 2015

Burton Gardens, Forage Walk No.1

Spring Greens!

Wild Kitchen Launch- Welcome, Wander & Weeds No More

Below is the first zine in a series, which we have been handing out to local residents around the community kitchen garden we have created at Heyhead Park, Brierfield.  The zine has more detail about the idea behind it and an illustrated map of the garden, which you are welcome to enhance with illustrations or words of your own!

The Event

Once everyone had arrived, guest chef and food-for-all activist Gill Watson helped us celebrate the range of edible weeds that can be foraged in the neighbourhood. Beginning with a forage walk, we were then treated to some nettle, and blackberry and raspberry leaf teas, while the native edibles were transformed - in the Burton Gardens outdoor cooking area - into dandelion and wild garlic pesto Egyptian pizzas, and followed by apple and sorrel BBQ tarts!

This project is supported by 
Great Places Housing Group Ltd. and is a pilot for the potential of outdoor community kitchens.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Presence of Absence by Rosie Vallely

The 28th of February saw the installation, 'Presence of an Absence' by Mexican artist Georgianna C. Ainsworth, put on display at Northlight Mill in Brierfield. The installation was a reproduction of Elina Chauvet’s protest art against the phenomenon of the femicide in Juarez, Mexico.

My first thoughts were how amazing the space was and how well it fitted the installation. The vast buildings of the old Smith and Nephew Mill encapsulated the piece so naturally, directing viewers' gazes to the compelling sight of 150 pairs of painted red shoes, standing together in the courtyard. At first, the full meaning and story behind the installation was not apparent, only that there was much more to know.

Watching people walk among the shoes and interact with the work was magical, and displayed the power of installation style artwork. There is something to be said for artwork being more relatable to the real world, when it is made from the real world. 

A particular thing that struck me was seeing the tiny children's shoes, and knowing the representation of their being there. Imagining my goddaughter standing in those shoes made me shudder, and brought home the true horror behind the piece. The presence of the children's shoes also reiterated the indiscriminate nature of the murders that are taking place.. Although these are predominantly women, children have also been killed.
Juarez is known as being one of the deadliest places in the world. Run by drug cartels and gangs; crime, terror, violence and murder are everyday occurrences. Innocent people are regularly  caught in the crossfire. Male or female, young or old, from whatever background, no one is safe. In the documentary, also shown at the event, entitled, 'Blood Rising,' it was said that being in Juarez you, 'learn what it means to be scared '.

I watched as people walked up and down the length of the work, slowly, pausing occasionally to look back and ponder the meaning of the piece. Although at first the details of the work were not apparent, the installation's defining red was striking and direct. The uniform nature of this colour drew together the many sizes and styles of shoes, and so too the many varied victims of the terrible murders and disappearances, in the city of Juarez, Mexico.

One cohesive, solidified message. For me, it conjured obvious ideas of blood and pain and the grotesque injustice of these deaths. One afterthought was the idea that for all these many varied victims, from different backgrounds, of different ages, genders and families; we all bleed the same.  

Another subtle suggestion of this tie between the victims, for me, was how all the shoes faced forward. It was as if they were standing together. Again, in one cohesive, solidified message. The power of this was brought on even stronger when you looked at viewers as they stood between the shoes. One comment was that, 'You almost expect people to be standing in the shoes, as if there are ghosts around '.  A definite feeling of loss and absence was apparent.

I loved how the piece affected its audience; how it very much took its message to the people but wasn't aggressively confrontational. Its power lay in the way it drew people in, its unavoidable nature compelling the viewer to think. As a piece of artwork, it played into our natural need to solve and find meaning.

I think many people felt a deep and emotional pull to the work. This was displayed by the eerie, quiet and quite gentle path people took through the shoes. Viewers felt a need to be respectful of the people the shoes represented, even without the full knowledge of the meaning of the piece.
There is something very instinctive and at a basal level about the way we react to things concerning other humans. It is something much deeper than our reaction to technology, or a building for example. This piece got into your core, and didn't let you go. 

The location at Northlight Mill was a perfect setting. Its vast space provided a stillness and calm, letting the viewers’ thoughts and feelings develop naturally. I think this was necessary as, as humans, when confronted with obvious pain, discomfort or suffering we have a tendency to look away and protect ourselves. But this work and its setting allowed that space for quiet reflection. 

An important part of the event was a documentary entitled, 'Blood Rising'. It was a vital part of the installation, I feel, as it gave the background information necessary to appreciate and truly understand the context and meaning behind the work.

The documentary told the story of the artist Brian Mcguire’s journey, as he sought to investigate the murders. He travelled to meet with some of the victims’ families and spent time actually living in the city of Juarez. A pivotal part of the documentary was his mission to give back each of the victims an identity. The sad reality is that these victims, whose lives were taken in some of the most brutal ways, have just become a number; a statistic, anonymous and silent. We must remember that each one of the victims was a person, with a family, a life, and a mind just as alive as ours. 
This anonymity partly stems from the sheer numbers of these murders. One figure in the documentary suggested 8500 murders in 3 years, although it is thought to be higher. This has led to a sense of normality of the brutality.

It drew parallels with a recent documentary I saw on the Holocaust entitled, 'Night Will Fall'. The documentary showed films taken when the death camps of the Nazi regime were liberated at the end of World War Two. One particular scene, showed the lifeless, naked bodies of the victims of the death camps, flung over the shoulders of soldiers, as they were carelessly tossed into pits for mass burial. 'Blood Rising' also told of bodies being dumped naked on wasteland. 

The two topics, for me, share this sense of loss of identity, of dehumanisation and the significance of both sets of victims' deaths, and indeed lives lost, along with their dignity and respect. In the documentary 'Blood Rising', one family had made a memorial for their murdered relative, where her body had been dumped on wasteland. Days later it was bulldozed; again an act of wiping away her identity.

But, acceptance of this anonymity allows us to dehumanise the victims, to be passive and apathetic. And it is dangerous. 

A key point in the documentary was the impact socially, and specifically the increase of relationship violence and murders. The allowed presence of this injustice is changing millions of people's lives and the fabric of society. 

A poignant moment was overhearing a conversation reflecting on the documentary, the content of which was that what was happening was very sad, 'But what can people like us do, for people like them?'

For me, this highlights the issue and the necessity for work of this nature. We cannot be allowed to disassociate and disconnect from very real human suffering. It is easy to put people in a box, and leave them voiceless. But ignorance is not bliss.

The truth is, we can do something. We are all human, all connected and can all feel. The first stage to changing anything is making people aware, alerting them to issues at hand and starting the process of change. It's about sharing knowledge of something like this, and opening a flow of communication. People in striking distance of this terror may be scared for their lives, but here we are in a safe position to do something. 

That is why artwork like this is so important and so necessary. It takes a message to the people and can be the start of a process of real change. It's as simple as spreading the word; telling somebody, not allowing evil to fester and grow in the safe confines that fear and isolation provide. 

Ideas are free and thoughts are the building blocks of revolutions. The fact is, an idea cannot be silenced. As long as it is alive in the mind of someone, somewhere and people come together, anything is possible.

It was once said that, 'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men (and women!) do nothing '. 

'Presence of an Absence' had an emotional power and depth that drove you to want to do something. It is imperative that more work of its kind be displayed to the public, to continue this flow of communication and shine a light on injustice - wherever it may be.

Rosie Vallely, March 2015

Monday, 16 March 2015

A Day with Suzanne Lacy

Walks and Talks 

In-Situ had the delight of touring international artist Suzanne Lacy around a few of the fantastic groups and projects going on in Brierfield on Wednesday 4th March.  She was introduced to some enthusiastic Nelson & Colne College students and their work; was treated to an extravagant chippy lunch with some of Brierfield Youth Panel; had a beautiful display of singing in the BAC centre; and was given an exclusive tour of Brierfield Mosque, as well as meeting many others along the way.  As is defining of Lacy's work, she drew poignant discussions and conversation from each new situation and has left all of us with food for thought.

Suzanne then rounded off her quick UK visit with an insightful talk about her work, held at UCLAN. Here she raised the topics of, among other things- feminism, activism, aesthetics, and the art of conversation- leaving the audience eager for discussion, with contemporary issues at the forefront of their minds. This presentation will be available online in the next couple of weeks.

'Suzanne Lacy's visit to Northlight Mill has been invaluable; listening to her review and praise our work was refreshing and exciting. It is rare that students like us get to meet and converse with such renowned artists such as Lacy. Thank you.' -Charlotte E. Dickinson, Nelson & Colne College

Howard Greenwood's video of Suzanne's tour round Brierfield:

Monday, 2 February 2015

Courage of Conviction Timeline

As part of the exhibition of work touring the libraries in Accrington, Burnley and Nelson, a local historian Chris Clegg has complied a timeline which we have illustrated to add into the exhibition. Book here to join us for a talk with author Cyril Pearce, looking at the impact of conscience objectors in the local area.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Jane Dawson Quakers in Britain

As part of the Courage of conviction launch we were joined by education office Jane Dawson of Quakers in Britain who gave a passionate talk about the their work and the continued impact of war in the present day. Here is a copy of the talk:

Events, viewed through the long lens of history, can take on a texture that distances us from them. We tend to think that certain events couldn’t happen now, that things have changed… One hundred years since WWI, has anything changed?

Since working on the Quakers in Britain WWI project, it has been clear to me that the real mood of the people, a centenary ago, was written out of the national memory. I had no idea just how much resistance there had been to WWI. Could we find ourselves in that position today?
On 2nd August 1914, two days before Britain went to war, there was a peace rally, which filled to brimming point, Trafalgar Square in London. The Manchester Guardian said it was ‘the biggest held in years’. Yet historians have led us to believe the country, the people, were behind WWI.
How did this happen? The loss of life in the early stages of the war made the government realize that a campaign to win over hearts and minds of the public was needed. There was a waning appetite for supporting the war effort. You might be familiar will the poster Your Country Needs You’, but a longer running and a more insidious campaign was embarked on to undermine those who were ambivalent or opposed to war.
Everything that wasn’t for the war effort was against it, was unpatriotic. Adverts in women’s magazine claimed that preparing certain sorts of food was unpatriotic! Anti war leaflets, pamphlets and gatherings were banned. In 1915 a Quaker, Edith Ellis, was imprisoned in Holloway women’s prison for distributing anti war leaflets.
In Manchester the headquarters of The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom was raided. Here in Accrington, a Mrs Tozer led a lively women’s resistance to the wars, she was treated as a subversive.
One of the most unpleasant strands of this campaign was The Order of the White Feather. It encouraged women to hand out white feathers to young men not in uniform, in the hope of shaming them into enlisting. The feather symbolized cowardice and effeteness a scornful statement that they were not real men because they were not fighting for the defence of their country.
Any kind of persuasion based on shame is a disaster, but this was worse than most. It caused endless heartache and recrimination. Hundreds of white feathers were given out in error to men who were on leave from their duties in the army, and as a result the scheme became unpopular with soldiers. But the people doling out the feathers were unrepentant.  They thought it was better to make a mistake than risk leaving out some lily-livered shirker.
Conscientious objectors, of course, received feather after feather after feather.  The politician Fenner Brockway, who later went on to come one of the founders of CND, said in 1914 he had enough white feathers to make fan.
Ordinary people, who were against WWI, were isolated, marginalized and written out of the history books. The hegemony, or cultural norm, generated by the triple authorities of the established church, government and military - the machinery of state - was created by a deliberate series of campaigns to undermine freedom of thought and information.
Today we might feel we are immune to such obvious attempts at state propaganda. After all we are free to inform ourselves through the internet, free from the heavy weight of state authority, free to make our own minds up, we have the right to demonstrate our opposition to war.
And yet for no apparent reason, in fact at great personal cost to ourselves, through our taxes, many of choose to support the government when it wants to go to war. Of course we are all horrified when we see a UK citizen beheaded, but are we so outraged about the innocent children dying in Syria as a result of weapons bought with our money, or by conflicts we know little about.
Today is Remembrance Day. Some of us at 11am stood solemnly in silence to remember those military service personnel who died in the conflicts of the last 100 years.  Nearly 9 thousand ceramic poppies surround The Tower of London in an hugely popular installation to mark the British dead.
But what would the field of poppies at the Tower of London look like if it included the global dead of WWI?  Soldiers and civilians, allies and enemies – as opposed to just the UK dead? 19.5million poppies would flow out of the Tower, along both banks of the Thames as far south-west as Millbank, snaking around parliament and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace.
Whether we like to think ourselves susceptible or not, propaganda is at work again.  Over the last few years there has been a systematic campaign to increase support for the military In the light of a waning appetite for public spending on war.
The government have targeted the public at their most susceptible.  The young and vulnerable are reached by giving sweeteners to schools and colleges to introduce a ‘military ethos’, while the reality of conflict in the classroom is ignored. There is an increasing presence of the military at emotive national events as a jingoistic form of theatre, normalising the presence of soldiers in 21st Century Britain.  The emphasis of Remembrance Day has shifted away from its original purpose of remembering the horror of war, to ‘support our troops’. Conflating these 2 ideas in the minds of the public. Co-opting this confusion to justify our more current armed conflicts.
You can read more about the evidence base for this in the Quakers in Britain, ‘The new tide of militarisation’ , which bases its findings on 3 government papers; Future Reserves 2012, National Recognition of our Armed Forces and Defence Youth Engagement Review.
Many people are swayed by the arguments that there are some wars you just can’t win.  They say these people, these countries, are so evil they only understand violence and force; the just war argument.
I’d like to consider the just war theory for a moment. Developed over the centuries beginning with the Christian philosophers, Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas, to define when it was right to go to war and the fairest ways to conduct war.
A war is just:
  • If the violence is a last resort and every way of resolving the problem by peaceful means has failed
  • If it prevents greater violence or a greater injustice
  • If it is proportionate and no unnecessary violence is used
  • If the methods of warfare used are themselves reasonable and in accordance with the rules of war.
Unfair distribution of the spoils of war after WWI, led directly to WWII, as the bullied became bullies.  Today in the Middle East the horrors we see are a direct result of unjust divisions made by the super powers of the time.  A hundred years later we find ourselves appalled by the violence, the seeds of which we ourselves sowed at the end of WWI.
As we once more we take sides in the region, it will only serve to continue the cycle of violence played out in Israel/Palestine, in the Iraq war and now in Syria. These interventions have achieved only to increase inequality and instability across the Middle East.  Was WWI the war to end all wars?

A strategy to prevent to conflict might be achieved more effectively by working alongside people in the region and those who have fled to this country and understand the issues most deeply.

Today, 100 years since the outbreak of WWI have we learnt from our mistakes? Wars caused by unequal distributions of resources and unequal and unjust treatment of people. I think those problems remain. Unless we address these fundamental problems, the roots of conflict will always remain. I say war is the coward’s way; it is an appeasement of those who want a quick fix solutions.

It is easier to start a war than to end it, and that additional violence itself fuels a bloody and destructive cycle. The bitterness and hatred created lasts for generations. Such violence threatens us all.

History, of course gives us the benefits of hindsight. Very few of us today would believe that in the death of WWI was in any way proportionate. And even the history books tell us that resolving the conflicts by peaceful means were barely considered. WWI was not about preventing greater violence or injustice for ordinary people, but about power struggles within a European ruling elite. It is well known that during WWI the development of new weapons of war was a direct response to the need to win the war, so WWI became defined by machine guns and gas, creating the horror of trench war. War creates the demand to innovate increasingly more abhorrent weapons of killing, which eventually gave us the nuclear bomb in WWII and now pilotless drones.

Today we find the world a precarious place, filled with volatile conflicts and wars. Many people have a great deal to gain by going to war. Arms Dealers are only interested in profit. Our government brokers arms deals with regimes, we later find ourselves fighting. Warring against our own weapons. Western firms, brokered by western governments, supply the heavy artillery in the Middle East region.