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…

A Tissue of Quotations

 

 

Hello, here is poem number five in my sonnet series.

This one deviates somewhat from my self-imposed brief, as it does not directly refer to any particular activity which took place during the Performing Worlds festival.

Instead, it was written in response to a jumble sale which I hosted in my former flat a couple of weeks ago. The sale was an attempt to raise some funds and rid myself of unnecessary ‘stuff’, in preparation for moving from one Dundee flat to another. Any unsold items were donated to charity shops, aside from several boxes of ‘essentials’, or highly sentimental/practical items, which I have kept. During and after the sale I parted with a considerable variety of possessions, including most of my personal book collection.

I discovered that ridding oneself of material goods is no easy task, and in my case led to some serious questioning of how we define ourselves through objects; how much we rely on ‘owning’ these objects for emotional support; and what happens when our domestic environments are altered beyond recognition.

The ensuing sonnet (featured below) can be related to my experience of Performing Worlds in the sense that I was obliged to confront my own subjective ‘world’, as defined by my hoarded possessions, with the impermanence and flux of external reality. When expanded to the scale of a city, these issues are equally relevant – should we cling to the past, or embrace the future? The choice seems ambivalent.

 

Goodbye Library

God’s giftie, Rab would have it, is to see
One’s entity as more than some forked bag
Of blurry features. Bitter Phil agrees:
‘They may not mean to’. Vendredi, Samstag,
Dimanche – days alternate, unnoticed
In translation. Sell the dictionary!
Cast its pages to a plague of locusts!
Opinions held on this subject vary,
But we were taught to relinquish objects.
Labour just enough, and set aside time
To focus on a number of projects.
So goodbye, dearest library of mine.
Text is tissue, layer upon layer.
I’ve no real use for a record player.

 

FOOTNOTE

The above sonnet references several existing texts by established authors. I have included copies of relevant text extracts below.

 

Death of the Author

Text is a tissue of quotations, drawn from innumerable centres of culture.

Roland Barthes

 

Das Kapital

A commodity appears at first sight an extremely obvious, trivial thing. But its analysis brings out that it is a very strange thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.

Karl Marx

 

To a Louse

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!

Robert Burns

 

King Lear (Act Three, Scene Four)

Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop’d and window’d raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta’en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,
And show the heavens more just.

Why, thou wert better in thy grave than to answer
with thy uncovered body this extremity of the skies.
Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou
owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep
no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! here’s three on
‘s are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself:
unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor bare,
forked animal as thou art.

William Shakespeare

 

The Plague of Locusts (Exodus 10, King James Bible)

Tomorrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast: and they shall cover the face of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field: and they shall fill thy houses, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; which neither thy fathers, nor thy fathers’ fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day.

 

Poetry of Departures

Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,
As epitaph:
He chucked up everything
And just cleared off,
And always the voice will sound
Certain you approve
This audacious, purifying,
Elemental move.

And they are right, I think.
We all hate home
And having to be there:
I detest my room,
Its specially-chosen junk,
The good books, the good bed,
And my life, in perfect order:
So to hear it said

He walked out on the whole crowd
Leaves me flushed and stirred,
Like Then she undid her dress
Or Take that you bastard;
Surely I can, if he did?
And that helps me to stay
Sober and industrious.
But I’d go today,

Yes, swagger the nut-strewn roads,
Crouch in the fo’c’sle
Stubbly with goodness, if
It weren’t so artificial,
Such a deliberate step backwards
To create an object:
Books; china; a life
Reprehensibly perfect.

Philip Larkin

 

Goodnight Moon

In the great green room
There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of

The cow jumping over the moon.
And there were three little bears sitting on chairs
And two little kittens and a pair of mittens
And a little toy house and a young mouse
And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush
And a quiet old lady who was whispering “hush”.

Goodnight room
Goodnight moon
Good night cow jumping over the moon
Goodnight light
And the red balloon
Goodnight bears
Goodnight chairs
Goodnight kittens
And goodnight mittens
Goodnight clocks
And goodnight socks
Goodnight little house
And goodnight mouse
Goodnight comb
And goodnight brush
Goodnight nobody
Goodnight mush
And goodnight to the old lady
Whispering “hush”.
Goodnight stars
Goodnight air
Goodnight noises everywhere.

Margaret Wise Brown

Zines and Ancient Norse

I made it to HMC today and, though a bit messily, managed to insert some toner into the cartridge. I printed off the other pages of my zine. It is not completely finished (and should not be confused with the next Satellite issue which is still open for submissions until July 27). I changed around the hub wall to show off my new and inadvertent ink drawings.

After I finished at the HMC I went to Tayside Recyclers to move the last remnants of the Iceberg. You may not recognize it.

Tonight was a performance, at Generator Projects, “Ancient Norse is not a Luxury” by James Lee and Emilia Giudicelli. More info can be found Here and Here

Two pages

That is how much of my zine I finished photocopying before running out of ink. I am going to (hopefully) fix this tomorrow. If you want to visit come by between 10 and noon and I will be there. I will make you tea.

I did get tons done today, despite the technical difficulties. I visited Theresa Lynn’s project from the festival: What Has It Got in Its Pockets. It is in the foyer of the Wellgate Library.

Sneak peak zine page:

Tomorrow I will attempt to inject ink into a machine. Wish me luck…

Number Four

 

Here is my fourth contribution to the aforementioned sonnet project.

I intend to install printed versions of these poems in the HMC Hub at some point, so I look forward to seeing how Morgan’s wall is developing, having a go on the Every Little Helps program, and generally nosing around the exhibition!

This piece is inspired particularly by Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s novel Sunset Song, and by the wonderful sunset-based work of fellow Performance Platform artist Ger O’Brien ( see http://gers-theattic.blogspot.co.uk/ or http://www.d-air.org/content/gerry-obrien-7-sunsets for more info).

 

 

 

Sunset Song

The lesson ends before we have a chance
To turn the final page of Gibbon’s Quair,
Or reconcile the trilogy’s expanse
Of sun and moon left hanging in the air:
The gaze is incomplete. A body twinned
Might fathom its own afterglow: one sphere
Deflects another. Recognised as kin,
The fire heats the granite; tempests clear;
But skies are thrown by unknown syzygy.
More honest, then, to never read the tale
Or play the tune. All sets upon the day
We marry Guthrie with her Tavendale.
Perhaps a darker Ewan broke his heart;
Perhaps she loved Christina from the start.

 

 

 

Chatting/Zine

I came to HMC today to ‘do something’ – get some work done on the zine, add a tiny feather I found to the pile. I ended up chatting with Raz for awhile. Holly came by so we could grab some stuff from Chamber East that was left over from the Tempest. It was super relaxing and nice. Just what I needed.

I will be around a little more often – so stop on by – if I am not there you can drop documentation/work you want to submit for the Satellite Zine special issue off in a box below my part of the wall. The theme is ‘Performing Worlds’. You can also email satellitedundee(at)gmail(dot)com with pdf or jpeg submissions until July 27, 2012 for possible inclusion.