The March of the Artists

Lauren Sagar, a first year MA Fine Art student at UCLan discusses her current project. Lauren is studying on the Projects for Places pathway, which is taught by In Certain Places curators Prof. Charles Quick and Elaine Speight.

A Walk and Talk I led at Artists Jamboree 2018. Photo credit Hannah Marie Photography.

A Walk and Talk I led at Artists Jamboree 2018. Photo credit Hannah Marie Photography.

The March of the Artists will see three artists; a theatre maker, Eve Robertson, a photographer, John-Paul Brown, and me, Lauren Sagar, a visual artist, walking the 250 miles from Manchester to London over 26 days, starting on 29th July and ending in London 25th August. Other artists and friends will join the walk for an hour, a day, a weekend, and we welcome anyone to join us. The project has been inspired by the March of the Blanketeers, which took place 200 years ago, and is driven by the recent creative response of Manchester’s artists to their displacement due to intense property development.

I discovered the story of the Blanketeers whilst researching a project for the touring exhibition, Tall Tales, during 2016. My project was called Call for Cloth. I, and over 60 other individuals who took part, shared details about our lives by talking about our relationship with special textile objects. These conversations had the effect of being ‘wrapped in warmth’. Many people spoke about blankets they have, remembered, had made or lost, and my attention was drawn to a profound human relationship with this particular cloth object. I created a series of three blankets, and the research took me to the story of the Blanketeers.

One of the Call for Cloth blankets. Photo credit Usarea Gul

One of the Call for Cloth blankets. Photo credit Usarea Gul

The March of the Blanketeers was one of a run of events, which culminated in the Peterloo massacre. It led to parliamentary reform and many of the rights that we now benefit from in the UK. Hundreds of spinners and weavers gathered in Peter’s Field, Manchester in March 1817. They each carried a blanket to identify themselves as textile workers, and a portion of a petition to give to the Prince Regent. The plan was that all the portions were to be joined together on arriving in London, and would highlight the desperate hardship faced by textile workers in the North West. The marchers were attacked by soldiers almost as soon as they set off; in Stockport several received sabre wounds and one man was shot dead. Around four or five hundred got as far as Macclesfield and Leek, some 20 miles away; most of them were turned back at the Hanging Bridge over the Dove as they were about to enter Derbyshire. Only one ‘Blanketeer’, Abel Cauldwell, managed to reach London.

The March of the Artists - paper, pencil, cloth, red cotton

The March of the Artists – paper, pencil, cloth, red cotton

Each of us will be researching our own lines of interest, taking advantage of the rarity of walking 250 miles through the country in one go. Our methods of documentation will be highly influenced by how much we are able to carry. We will be carrying everything on our backs, so small and light is crucial. We will share documentation; John-Paul is a photographer so will take pictures, Eve will be recording interviews with people, I will be drawing and writing – very small documents in very small note books.

Starting to sketch a Walk Around the House. Indicating points of pain, taking rests, encountering obstacles.

Starting to sketch a Walk Around the House. Indicating points of pain, taking rests, encountering obstacles.

My personal interest is in how to map the experiences and encounters of a walk. Poor health for the first part of this year has limited my research to walks within my home, and to memories of walking. It has also fed into my psychogeographical research, which normally relates to how it feels to be walking in nature. The experience of walking within such tight parameters, physically, socially and emotionally, engaged me strongly with my immediate environment and led me to think about how to express such movement through maps. I am looking forward to finding out how this translates into a 250 mile walk in the outdoors, encountering people and nature.

The project is funded by the Arts Council of England, alongside a crowdfunding campaign. Click here to donate or for more information about the project.

You can follow our progress on:
Twitter: @CallForCloth
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marchoftheartists/
Instagram @marchoftheartists

If you would like to join us on the walk  please email Amanda Hennessey at amandaatmota@gmail.com

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Treading Lightly

Steph Shipley, a second year MA Fine Art student at UCLan discusses her current project and upcoming exhibition. Steph is studying on the Projects for Places pathway, which is taught by In Certain Places curators Prof. Charles Quick and Elaine Speight.

Steph Shipley – City like me
Solo Exhibition – the first scene of Treading Lightly
The Gallery at St George’s House, Bolton BL1 2DD
Preview: 12 May 2018, 1-3pm.  Artist’s Talk at 1.30 pm
Exhibition continues until 13 July 2018
Gallery Open: Monday-Friday 9am – 5pm

Ruhwinton of the Middle Ages, now Rivington and its Terraced Gardens just below Rivington Pike on the outskirts of Bolton had been beckoning from its rugged, lofty heights as I began my final year MA Fine Art research project. Lord Leverhulme, global industrialist and local philanthropist of Port Sunlight fame, acquired the land in the early 1900s; his country retreat described by local garden historian Elaine Taylor as an ‘Edwardian theme park’ reflects the eclectic travelogue of influences evident in the landscape’s design and structures. It had been his childhood haunt, a place of courting, of ambition, opulence and retreat, of returning, of love and loss, of altruism, and of growing old – substance worthy of note; personal and universal.

I am interested in what remains. What has drawn me there and calls me back and why did I choose the vestiges of the once elegant Ballroom, the mournful Japanese Lake and the overgrown Italian Gardens to investigate? Melancholy weighs heavily within such sites of heterotopia – those places that exist physically within our everyday culture, but are often set aside or transitory with a capacity for imagination or otherness; I tread a cautious path through their offerings, mindful of their capacity to reflect and disturb what surrounds them; mindful of my own fragility in matters of nostalgia.

City Like Me filmstill by Steph Shipley.

Mine is a tentative cross-disciplinary approach, the surfaces where these things meet being of significant yield beyond the deep excavation of one. I find an uncertain yo-yoing between the capricious analogue and abundant digital that speaks of past and present, of obsolescence and the contemporary. Photographs, film, projections and site recordings that have evolved through text, voice and ultimately dance are embodied with the place as I have experienced it through the changing seasons. Still and moving images seem to depend on each other reflecting the gravitas of the site and my transient relationship with it; the large scale overlaid screen-prints on provisional drafting film are a ‘screen memory’ of the hours I have spent there usually at dusk – fugitive, floating, blinking, like the blueprints where I found them in the basement of the local archives office.

City Like Me screenprint by Steph Shipley.

City Like Me screenprint by Steph Shipley.

I have been treading gently, finding different ways in, feeling my way as the year has turned on the twilight of the Ballroom; its backward gaze on Leverhulme’s loss of love and place replaced by a lightness of spring; the Japanese Lake – the balletic ritual of the symbolic crane transformed into tentative etchings and then into dance; a choreographed continuum, a lifting of mood, a dexterity of step and agility of pose.

Treading Lightly. etching by Steph Shipley.

Treading Lightly. etching by Steph Shipley.

Treading lightly is a means of negotiating time and space, of navigating loss and of respecting what remains. As Paul Carter (2004) suggests the ground is never given, treading lightly has made me alert to my own time and the fact that Rivington Gardens and Leverhulme’s legacy will outlast me by far. Therefore, as I await the full bloom of the Italian Gardens, the first blush of summer heat on the loggias and pergolas, I will continue to tread lightly to enable a place to linger, a longer past, as Siobhan Davies (2018) implies, and one far more than its surface value.

 

Carter, P. (2004) Material thinking: the theory and practice of creative research. Melbourne, Melbourne University Press

Davies, S. (2018) Future Recollections: The body we are. Available at: http://www.siobhandavies.com/watch-listen/2018/02/21/future-recollections-body-we-are/