Monday 1 September 2014

A Baxter Park Of The Mind

Last week I participated in a 'micro' residency in Dundee's Baxter Park as part of 'May Meet In Mutual' organised by Emma & Katie Reid. Charged with the task of creating a site responsive work I spent two days in collaboration with Pauline M. Hynd an artist who grew up in Eden Street right opposite the main park gates. It was a great chance for me to take my current practice and apply it to a new situation. As you may be aware I am very much engaged with notions surrounding local cultural value and the connection between creativity and sense of place. Baxter Park having been a kind of hub for generations of Stobswell residents served as a rich canvas upon which we could deposit stories and poems that sprang up from Pauline's memory.

As we accumulated our materials in the form of photographs, texts and audio recordings it occured to me that my modus operandi has become very much like a vessel into which I can pour any site specific content and then connect that content to the place through the combined use of a website and the lithographic plate technique of physical intervention into the landscape - the same method I employed in 'Songs Of The City'. Finding a plate attached to a building or bench is an open invitation for the casual pedestrian to make a direct cognitive connection between the actual physical landscape and the unseen inspirational landscape of the mind. It's a way of celebrating the spirit of the place and acknowledging its influence upon the character and nature of the creativity that flows out from there.

'Father Time' - litho plate in situ on Daisy Hill where Pauline went sledging as a child.
It seems at the outset that some of the residents have been moved by the articulation of these memories and that this work really resonates with people who know the area well. It is also interesting to note that there was for some of the locals a sense of anxiety about embracing the idea of an artistic practice and we later found out that several of them who knew about the project were too afraid to attend the presentation, as if it were somehow an alien or threatening space, perhaps the sight of us strange arty types through the glass walls of the rangers centre put them off a bit?

Pauline's texts and spoken word stories portray a local vernacular landscape rich in the Dundee tongue and also evoke a strong sense of her early years through a period when the park became very run down and neglected in the 1980's - 'Pivvy Wa' is a great example of this.

This project has extended the reach of my work and proved that this methodology can be transposed onto many scenarios. The addition of audio recordings is an exciting development and one that adds an extra layer of richness to the experience. Two days is not much time in which to gather, collate and assemble a website and to fabricate and situate several lithographic plates let alone write all the material, grade all the photographs and do a presentation! It was an exhausting stint but one which left us feeling inspired and delighted by our achievements. Here's to the next one!

A Baxter Park Of The Mind

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