HUMAN SPACES~ Tay Bridge.

The final space I went to investigate was the Tay Bridge at the waterfront. The Tay is a fundamental body within Dundee, giving the city its birth place and source of life. The Tay has always interested me as a human space as it holds and resonates a great part of Dundee’s history and reveals how the city has progressed throughout time.

The Tay river holds two bridges: the Railway Bridge and the Road Bridge. Both these structures connect Dundee to its surrounding landscapes and have enabled its citizens to travel and venture out and into the city. As structures in themselves, the bridges are incredible bodies. They project themselves from the land and connect two spaces together, creating a relationship between human spaces.

As part of the festival, my fellow friend and artist, Ruth Aitken took us to the waterfront to experience a ritual walk. There we were asked to inhabit a disused space and bring it to life by walking around it and activating it with our human presence. It was when being immersed in the space that I realised how much the Tay forms the city, and as you walk around it you can see how far the water bends around the city, marking the very outlines of it.

At the waterfront there are a lot of different public art works that link back to Dundee’s shipping and jute industry. Dundee used to be one of the biggest harbour’s in the world, and even though this is no longer the case, you still get a sense of this grand open space, which was once filled with ships and large structures. As part of these little visual references to the city’s past there is a sculpture called the Panmure passage, which was sculpted by artist Marion Smith. The sculpture is inspired by a boat hull and links back to Dundee’s shipping roots.The sculpture is made from 11 upright granite slabs, which echo the form of a boat by creating an almost skeleton-like structure.

When inhabiting the space, I felt very drawn to this structure and so decided to do a recording whilst lying inside it. I lay my body down the series of holes and sang inside it. It was an amazing feeling being held up by his very strong sculpture and resonating within another art work…

This happening marked the very last of my investigations of human spaces within Dundee. I thoroughly enjoyed this journey and meeting the city in a more intimate way, in which I got to meet and inhabt spaces that I had never gone to before. This also marked the end of my time living in Dundee and was a wonderful way to leave the city…

HUMAN SPACES~ Dundonia.

Wandering around the city centre, I stumbled across some more spaces that made me think of how we have inhabittted the city through time…

Dundee is a city were you can clearly see a change in its identity; there are constant traces of abandoned buildings, spaces out of use and that are shaping to be new places…the city has visually changed. I find it fascinating how disused structures can strongly remind us of how we existed inside them. Buildings in many ways are like human museums that link us back to all the generations before us. Architecture in itself is a human space and creation; it is a physical world in which we have based our lives around. Everywhere around us has been sculpted as human space, they shape us as much as we shape them and become the places we exist in everyday…

But human nature changes, as does a city…In Dundee you can feel walking through the streets this older city, like a ghost city amongst it, all the invisible layers, all the buildings that re no longer in use, resonate a moment that no longer exists. I find it very interesting learning about people through buildings and looking at what our relationships used to be to them, and what they are presently…

I have really enjoyed collecting all these different memories and experiences in the city. My explorations in Dundee have allowed meet to see the city in a completely different light, and that there are many invisible stories within a city, like hidden markings in the landscape and buildings, the structures around us resonate our history, and reveal our relationship to space and place.

“MEMORY IS TIME”.

HUMAN SPACES~ Wishart Arch.

The Wishart Arch is a monument situated in the Seagate, which is one of the oldest parts of Dundee. The Wishart Arch is a remaining part of the city wall and was an old gateway into the city, forming part of the East Port and Cowgate. The monument frames a part of Dundee’s history and past. Once a protected gateway into Dundee it was converted into a pedestal from which religious reformer George Wishart preached to plague victims in 1544. It now stands as a very ghostly structure, amongst the modern city of Dundee.

The Wishart arch reminds me of how the city used to encircle the land, and how we as its inhabitants lived inside it. It is now said to be the only remaining part of the original city walls and architecturally dates back to 1500’s. I must have walked passed the structure several times, but have never noticed it before due to its strange location. The arch is in the middle of the city, and yet is completely immersed and made invisible by its surrounding environment. I think it is a wonderful piece of architecture, which remains as a symbol of the past.

As an ancient monument, the Wishart Arch resonates a different time and place. The Wishart Arch presently stands beside a modern building, which extends itself out from the arch’s adjacent wall. I think it is very interesting to think of buildings as their own bodies, and so in this instance when two buildings  come together in such a close dialogue with another, their original identity changes, and they become a completely new body. I think  this is why I have perhaps never noticed the arch before, because it no longer stands as a structure by itself, it forms part of  this completely different identity that does not resonate a historical place at all. It is very strange how two buildings with such different presences can stand beside each other and exist in the same space, yet they can also work together to communicate and create a dialogue between the past and present of a city.

For my explorations on resonance within the structure, I sat inside the small encove of the arch and sang inside it. It was a really lovely experience as it allowed me to observe the world around me without being seen, as in that moment I was concealed by the arch.  Being inside the arch made me feel immersed within its walls, allowing my voice to travelled through the structure. I sat inside it for a while, watching the space around the structure; how people moved around and through it…It felt as though it wasn’t a place where people stopped, but more a space that was crossed and inhabited a moment rather than a long period of time. I got the feeling that this Arch has become invisible to everyone, it no longer is seen as a body at all, and because of this I enjoyed occupying it for that time period, and acknowledging it as its own structure.

After some time, I left the structure and wandered up and through the streets it led to, finding new spaces of old that resonate our past….

HUMAN SPACES~ St. Mary’s/ The Steeple.

The following day, I went to visit some of the sacred architecture in Dundee’s city centre. It is incredible how many churches Dundee has presently, they run like a trail right through the city…

St Mary’s Church/The Steeple are said to be the oldest of these buildings in Dundee, dating back to 1190 when it was first constructed. It now stands as a completely different building, as the original structure was burnt by the English in 1303. It was then rebuilt, but again in 1547 the parish was targeted for being the largest church in Scotland, and the Steeple being the tallest Tower. Again it was rebuilt and again it was burnt in 1841.

Finally, in the 1870’s it was re-built by Sir George Gilbert Scott, who was commissioned by the local council to re model the church. The building takes the aesthetics of the Gothic Victorian Revival, which is physically very different from the Old Steeple that managed to survive from the 1400’s. This building is now what presently remains as St. Mary’s church, and is the only surviving structure from all its past decedents.

I find church’s very bizzarre spaces; they are public sanctuaries, yet there is so much political control over them, and especially as historic sites, they begin to close their doors and loose their purpose and identity. It is amazing how much importance we have given these buildings over the years, re building them over and over again….They are so present within every culture and city, and they remain sacred, even if religion has faded, the buildings themselves represent the people that built them, and as a beacons of hope, they remain as visual metaphors of our faith.

This is in itself creates a very resonant framework, standing infront of a building, that echoes all the structures that stood there before it, but also all the energy it has taken to re build them.  I am sure that their presence and human resonance still echoes through space now. I really like this church, it does for me symbolize the centre of Dundee. It is a very social hub space, there is always people sitting aroudn ti, and there has been a wonderful public art piece commissioned, which echos the ouline of the front of building on the ground.

I tried to enter the church, but it was closed, so I circled the space and found a little enclosure in one of the side walls, facing the Overgate. I stood there, taking in my surroundings and watching everyone move around the building. theere was a pigeon wandering around and a bin man working close by, so I definitely got the sense that this was a shard space. I sang very quietly and stood close to a tree. I felt very sheltered by the building and  protected. It then began to rain, so I decided to walk on into the city and follow it down to the Seagate…

HUMAN SPACES~ Cox’s Stack.

As well as visiting the Balgrathno Stone Circle, on the way back into town I went to visit my second site; the Cox’s Stack. I chose this not for its historic presence, but more for its symbol to the city. The Cox’s Stack is the longest surviving industrial chimney in Scotland. It is 86 metres high and is a prominent feature in Dundee’s landscape. As a monument, the Cox’s Stack symbolises Dundee’s link to the jute industry. The chimney was owned by the Cox family who specialised in the production of linen and then followed onto jute in the early 1800’s. The stack is placed at the heart of the Camperdown Works, which at the time was the largest jute factory in the world.

Now, the large structure stands like ghost tower…It is disused, unoccupied and impossible to access. I walked around it for an hour, trying to get to it, but there were fences and buildings placed around it like a fort. It is this enormous and predominant vertical structure, hidden within a sea of houses and shopping markets. You can’t miss it, and yet you can’t get to it. Again a very visible, yet invisible place…

The area now feels very changed and run down. Beside the Stack is a shut down commerce space and large housing estate. In my attempts to try and access the stack, I walked through the local housing estate, where all the worker’s of the factory would have lived. It did feel like entering a different time zone, yet this time it was close to the late 70’s/ early 8o’s. Lochee is a bit like a mining town, it definitely has a working class presence and resonates a place of work and labour. The small brick houses all lined up side by side echo a close nit community, where the boundaries of work and life merged.

I tried to get as close to the Cox’s Stack as I could, which was under a bridge. I sang underneath it, using the arched body of the bridge to allow my voice to travel in the space. At the end of the bridge, there was a park were the local children were playing football, and it was nice hearing them as I sang. I stood there for a while contemplating what it would be like to live in that area and walked slowly towards the main road, looking into all the windows and abandoned buildings as I walked passed them…

HUMAN SPACES~ Balgarthno Circle.

The Balgarthno Stone Circle traces back to the Megalithic ages, when human civilization was at the very beginning of evolution. Situated near Myrekirk Road, the stones are also known as the ‘Myrekirk’ and are a symbol of one of the first local’s interaction and connection with Dundee as a space. The orientation of the stone circle shows a relationship to the movement of the sun and the moon and is considered to be an ancient monument of ritual in which local tribes and family groups held communal ceremonies. It has stood there for over 5,000 years, although archaeologists cannot pin point an exact age of this site.

The stone circle measures 6.1 metres in diameter, which is interesting as this links to my degree show space, which was room 601 and because of this my sound piece was made to be 6:01 minutes long. I find these little links & connections between projects very magical and mystical, and there begins to appear a flow between different spaces and time from completely different contexts…

I found the site extremely beautiful and serene, it is surrounded by greenery and nature. It took me a while to stumble across, but once I found it I was immediately drawn to its very silent presence, hidden within a quite area suburban surrounded by houses and a play park. The stone circle has a very surreal placement; you can immediately see a clear juxtaposition between the present and the past. I always find it very interesting visiting these sorts of historic monuments, as it allows you to interact with spaces that echo our past, and yet allow us to experience and inhabit them in the present.

As I entered the site, it really did feel like I was stepping into another time frame. I was able to find silence in a very open space. I lay in the middle of the stones and sang. I then lay on the stones, and sang.

As a place, the Balgarthno Stone Circle definitely resonated a specific time period within its landscape. Inside it, it made me think of how Dundee would have been placed all those thousands of years ago. This experience was very much like my journeys going up to Orkney. I felt so secluded and alone and completely immersed in nature; I was very still. There was no one around me, no voices or sounds, the space was completely secluded and bare. The entire outside world vanished, the background sounds of moving cars and traffic were unheard and for a while it felt like time stopped. I really felt like I was in a sacred enclosure, almost like in a world within a world…

HUMAN SPACES…

Over the duration of the festival, I have been doing a series of recordings and investigations in spaces around the city….

Human Spaces looks at our connections to the places we inhabit and how we are amplified by our everyday landscapes. This project follows on from my final year research looking at human resonance and our relationship to space. As an artist, I am  interested in the merging links between the ‘internal’ and ‘external’ world, and how we create dialogues between them….

As part of this project, I have chosen a series of sites that to me represent important monuments/bodies within the city. These momuments hold their own history, as well as physical presence and energy. Within these sites I use my voice to project into the space, capturing my presence within it. These external dialogues form as my own internal portraits of space, where our bodies merge to create one monument.

The sites I have chosen for this project are:

-The Balgrathno Stone Circle (which is said to be the most ancient site in Dundee, dating back to pre historic & Megalithic times)

-The Cox’s Stack (for its connection to the Jute Industry)

– St Mary’s Church/ The Steeple (for its historic significance to the city)

-Wishart Arch (the only remaining part of the old city wall)

-Tay Bridge (a monument/structure which connects Dundee to its surrounding landscapes)

I have chosen these specific sites to explore my resonance due to their historic presence as cultural places. I find it especially interesting investigating sites that have witnessed many times, lives and worlds, creating a physical bridge which connects the present to our past. Within these explorations I hope to reveal the invisible and intangible presence of our environment, revealing how spaces have shaped us through inhabiting them…

I will be going through all my recordings and sharing my experiences in these sites with you…