Stourport Sketchbook 2004-2005
"A place comes into art loaded with content. An artist comes to a place in one of two ways: either loaded with content or like a clean slate, ready to receive, interpret and represent... If the former, the artist will displace the resident meanings of a place with preconceptions about art. If the latter, the artist will make those resident meanings visible for the first time."
[adapted from Jeff Kelley 14th June 2006]
Stourport Canal Basins 2004 - 2006
Shortlisted for BURA Waterways Renaissance Strategy & Master Planning Award 2006.
Like Walter Benjamins Angel of History, we are always at the edge of change our faces turned toward the past while we are propelled into the future by the storm of progress.
Things have to change. Mary Palmer wanted to change things, so she gave Fred Payne the job of resident pianist. Nothing like this had happened before and certainly nothing of this kind had happened during the time the Widow Tyler had been proprietress at the Tontine Hotel. Was Esther Tylers silent hotel better than the first tune Fred would play on the piano? Is our memory of what was better than our anticipation of whats coming?
Only time would tell. Time is woven into the fabric of the Canal Basins at Stourport it erodes the site but also opens up layers of content and memory and experience that enrich the place. As such, time bears witness to loss while providing the material for future recovery and revitalisation. And, as always, these things take time.
The important thing about walking the site together is not so much what we look at (although that is important) or talk about (although that is also important) but how bits of looking and talking become layered to suggest new possibilities. A looking and talking palimpsest excavating the layers of the site, exposing the incomplete erasure of the things that have gone and revealing the partial legibility of the things to come.
Alex said to Tom, quoting Goethe, We ought to talk less and draw more. Perhaps she had a point.
Certainly drawing is like thinking and we think about everything. Drawing is about noticing things, generating and accumulating evidence, and about narrowing the gap towards future action. Like when we turned the corner at the Tontine and imagined the ghost of the curved wall of the now dismantled Iron Warehouse.
We stopped our talking and measured out where the wall had stood. An 8.75 metre arc chalked on the tarmac, locating something that had once stood over 6 metres high obscuring the views up and down Mart Lane. And we understood, for the first time, the real scale and massing of what had been here.