hanging by a thread
Over the years, I’ve made a number of works with thread. It’s emerged as a result of my wandering the alleyways around Blackburn specifically this summer but also over the years, particularly with Scott Farlow with whom I explored Blackburn extensively in 2012/13 during a project called Routes To Play.
Routes To Play was a pivotal project in my career. Running over the length of time it did allowed Scott and me to explore Blackburn in an incredibly rich, detailed and meaningful way. It resulted in a deep sense of connection between me, the town and Scott which continues to exist and develop. Revisiting some of these locations while in residency at The Making Rooms was a profound experience that made me pause, reflect on and reconnect with past versions of me and my practice.
The use of thread makes an obvious link to the town’s textile past which, even today, maintains influence through architecture, layout and social geography. Before being woven, thread is wound as warp using a beaming frame. Hundreds, thousands of threads spill from pirns, taper together and are wound onto the beam in a shard of colour. I first came across this in 2011 at Queen Street Mill. It’s fascinated me ever since and I’ve explored it several times.
In this work the tapering threads also reflect the single point perspective of an alley, the yellow the colour accents we discovered, and the emerald the curiously surprising amount of green in the views we found framed. The blue anchors the work in the summer of 2018 when our explorations took place.
The bricks directly connect to the aesthetic of an alley. They came from my kitchen and create a link between me, the work, and Blackburn the place. The colour of the mortar changes with the temperature outside cementing the link between the work and Blackburn itself.
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.