road to blackburn
I’ve worked in Blackburn off and on for eight years, and nearly every time I’ve come I’ve driven this way. I don’t know if it’s the best way, or even the fastest way. I drive this way because the first time that I was here I asked someone the best way back to Manchester and that’s the way I was told.
Little did I know then how important this road would become, how often I would use it, and how well I would get to know it. I really like that such a seemingly incidental conversation can have such a big impact on your life.
I cemented this relationship by walking the route during my residency. It was very strange to stand in places that I knew well but only from a distance - like getting off at a station you’ve only ever passed through on the train. On foot I was able to see far more detail than I had previously, appreciate its undulation and better understand how it connects to its surroundings.
This film documents my journeys into Blackburn over a number of weeks. During the glorious summer, I attached a camera to the roof of my car and started filming in the lay-by off junction three on the M65 - another space that I’ve randomly created a connection with - continuing until I reached the town centre.
The film explores the differences that we encounter in the familiar. That although the route is the same, it’s different each time it’s travelled. There’s more or less traffic. It’s sunnier or not. To me, the overlaid images expose these differences. They remind us to constantly seek out more detail in what we feel we already know. That everyday encounters are always fresh, unfamiliar and invigorating.
The ethereal, dreamy quality of the film hints at the necessity of sometimes allowing the universe to progress as it will. To know the path you’re on but concede that you often see and appreciate more when you remember to focus on less.
Everything I Know In Blackburn - Residency 2018
I know Blackburn almost entirely by chance. Many sets of unlikely circumstances colluded to first bring me here in 2010. But really, isn’t that usually the way? It’s all but impossible to predict what events or encounters will become significant. I suppose they all are in one way or another.
To me, Blackburn is massively important. I’ve had the privilege to deliver a project in or around the town most years since my first, chance visit, and very many of these have marked significant way points in the development of my career as an artist.
In a way, my career and relationship with Blackburn have developed in tandem. Back in 2010 I knew little of both Blackburn and being an artist. The town gave me my first big breaks and, although of course can’t say that I know everything about either Blackburn or being an artist, I have got to know a little about both, as my relationships with both have become more secure.
Much of my knowledge of the town has come from working with people to explore the places they live, work and visit - examining and re-connecting with the often-familiar, and producing something which expresses our joint response to this process.
This residency has been a rare and really valuable opportunity to turn the same approach on myself and explore the chances that led me here, both in terms of being in Blackburn and, more generally, in what I do, perhaps who I am.
The process has been reflective and invigorating. I have emerged with a renewed sense of purpose and connection to the core of my practice. I have been reminded of the good fortune I have had as a result of the circumstances, encounters, chances and people which and who have inadvertently conspired to bring me here.