installing more missing posters

Carrying my missing posters around, I was approached by a lady with two girls. The day before she noticed the children’s stories and the tree house when walking the dog. She remembered where they all were, and took the girls out on a long walk, letting them find the artworks in the park. The girls told me about the tree house and rabbit that lives inside.

They were keen to help me so we spent about two hours on a frosty morning, pinning the rest of the missing posters all over the park for other people to find.

 

The Missing Posters

I started making a series of posters following many conversations about what is missing from Marsden Park (-most recently the ‘Witch’ I installed at the Chapel arch.)

 

I had plenty of material to choose from, but settled for missing architectural elements and stoneworks that have been removed over the years, including a stone otter, a gate, a swimming-pool, a stone peacock and a statue of the wildman.    otter poster

 

 

The Missing Witch

It was a hot Sunday when I was sketching in the park. A lady came up to me and asked “did you do that tree house?” , referring to the rabbit I installed in the trees. Yes, I admitted.

She said: “and there is something else, there is an owl somewhere.”

owl

That was me as well…  I forgot to take the owl and tree-house down after the session with the nursery children.

Hesitantly she asked: “did you put the witch down there?” – gesturing towards the chapel arch.’Yes,’ I admitted. It’s meant to be the White Lady, the local park spectre.

“I told my friend – that’s really good. It’s not going to stay,” she said.

I explained it needed fixing, so I took it down. She was relieved. She thought it is hanging up in someone’s bedroom. “It’s really good. You could sell those!”

Seems that inadvertently I added to people’s anxieties about things going missing and that vandals are active in the park. We had a discussion about that. “I guess it depends who comes in here,” the nice lady concluded.

Then she asked: “will there be activities in the afternoon?’

I was puzzled.  I have not been in the park long, and have not advertised any activities to the public. “There could be, what sort of activities do you have in mind?” I asked, getting ready to prepare a make-shift workshop.

“Could you put more things for us to find in the trees?”

I certainly could.

 

 

Impressions of Marsden Park

Clay Fragments

I gathered the clay fragments together. How to make a whole out of fragments? and is it necessary? Or honest?

 

On an average day I met about 8 to 10 dog walkers, I met 30 children from nursery, 30 primary school children, 15 young people from Safe Space and the Zone Youth Centre,  and about 10/15 Friends of Pendle Parks. That’s quite a lot of people in three weeks, but a small fraction of the people who use the park. So why try to make a whole picture when I only have fragments?

Instead I decided to make some prints, using the fragments as building blocks to capture the spirit of the park:  

Fragment of Marsden Park

Impression of Marsden Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then cast the clay pieces into plaster, placing unlikely fragments of the park side by side, recalling my encounters as I peeled off the clay and uncovered the layers of plaster beneath- a lady’s shoe print from the path by the marshes next the bark from the tree by the Old Hall next to stone path that leads to the sensory garden next to Charlie’s paws who I met on my way to the playground, all of my impressions of Marsden Park mixed together.

cast of the book of clay

 

Alan Bamber the Stone Mason

I felt star struck when I met Alan Bamber, the stone mason who has restored many elements of the park over the years.

sparrows peckings

He is adding a new piece of stone to the wall at the entrance of Marsden Park. He knows the stonework of Marsden Park intimately, and he gave me a quick tour of the Latin names of the stonework. “This is called ‘Sparrows Pecking’,” he explained. I thought is looked very much like my initial idea for the clay tablet book:

Alan’s mallet

Alan’s mallet is 200 years old, and has been passed down through generations of stonemasons. It is half the size it was he was given it, as he cut bits and reshaped it over the years. “I got two years to go till I retire, so it’s going to last me,” he joked.

The Book of Clay

Throughout these weeks I have been making a Book of Clay together with people I met in the park:

The Book of ClayThe Book of ClayThe Book of ClayThe Book of ClayThe Book of ClayThe Book of ClayThe Book of ClayThe Book of ClayThe Book of Clay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Book of Clay

 

 

 

 

 

The clay tablets were a ‘contact sheet’ between me and park users, and between us and the surfaces of the park.

 

Pressing the clay onto the park, I received the pieces back with impressions of the people I met on one side- big and small fingers, shoes, pram wheel tracks, dog paws, and the textures of the park on the reverse- stones, grass, leaves, twigs, earth, pavement, railings.

clay fragments

At the end I gathered these fragments together, looking for an image or message in the gaps between the pieces.


meeting Friends of Marsden Park

A workshop with Friends of Marsden Park enlightened me to how much the local community is investing in this space.

The group meets regularly and consists of local residents as well as representatives of  the Nursery and primary school who use the park.  They put on events and dedicate a lot time planning and organising to ensure their success.

Friends of Marsden Park

Originally a Neighbourhood Watch, this group of people bring positivity and energy to make Marsden Park a place enjoyed by all.

For this workshop I prepared lots of quick ‘tasks’ in response to the park, such as ‘If a new entrance was to be installed, what should it look like and where should it be placed?’ and ‘What kind of animal is the park’ . Some lively discussions followed with imaginative descriptions of the park, and an insight into its history and its present state.

Friends of Marsden Park  Friends of Marsden Park

Friends of Marsden ParkFriends of Marsden Park

The Zone

The Zone is a local youth centre situated at the bottom of Marsden Park. I popped there one evening last week with Lee Johnson, and met the staff. It was recently redesigned with a lot of input from the young people who use it. I was invited to join girls’ night.

Not sure where to begin the conversation, I tore up a large piece of paper. On the torn pieces I wrote lots of park-related questions.

questions answers

The girls picked up the torn pieces and wrote their answers on the back. Once the girls started writing they just kept going, and their comments led to lots of interesting discussions. I got my pieces of paper back full of notes, with frank and funny responses. Here are the questions and answers:

Is Nature Good?

“I don’t know what nature is?”

“Everything that God made is nature but I don’t believe in God…”

 

Do you prefer the lawns or the forest?

“Forest.”

“A Bitta Both.”

 

Do people say hello to you when they pass by?

“Old People.”

 

Have you ever been scared in the park?

“yes!”

“Yes Very.”

 

Is there park welcoming?

“I am too old for the park. 15!”

“You are too old for parks at 12/13.”

“I have never been to Marsden Park.”

“Of course.”

“No because the police move you on if you’re 14.”

 

Is the park safe?

“no, not at all”

“in the morning yes..in the night time no!”

 

Do you have any nice memories of Marsden Park?

“I spend my life on Marsden park.”

“Yeah but I can’t be bothered writing.”

 

Do you know any local myths?

“Candy man + White lady”

 

Is the park better than a walk in the county side?

“no, cos you can see sheep in the country side.”

“Yes if you want to socialise but the country side is better if you want a long, quiet walk with”

“the one you love. awn taht’s cute is”

 

Is the park better than a private garden?

“I think so yes, because you can have more of a social gathering.”

“Yes because you can socialise more”

“No because a garden is safe.”

 

Do you have enough nature in your life?

“No, but parks provide a small bit of nature in the town!”

 

Do you have any childhood memories of the park?

“Yes.”

“Yeah a lot.”

 

Would you walk alone in the park?

“no, cos you can not be too sure who is around, and anyone around could kidnap you.”

“Nope not at all.”

“NO NO NO NO NO NO”

 

Is there anything really wild in the park?

“yeah, the pissheads.”

“Danny Oddie.”

“Just Everyone.”

“Crazy women/men.”

 

What do you think of Marsden Park?

“Its scary…”

“Marsden park is a really nice park if you are young because there is lots of toys to play with but there is nothing for older people.”

I thought to exhibit the girls’ comments in the park for others to discover.

I gathered the torn pieces of paper into the shape of a bat. This image came to mind because Marsden Park has bats, and when I was told of ‘unwanted activities at nighttime’ from young people in the park, somehow the bats and teenagers amalgamated into one.

ground bat

For a few days the bat lived on the ground at the bottom of the park, where young people from the Zone are likely to pass. The bat then moved to the top of the park. Here is is flapping its wings between two trees:

bat

bat wing

Boggart’s goodbye

My last day in the park.

I met up with the 8am dog-walkers, and pootled around the park for the rest of the day – saying goodbye to ‘my regulars’(!), and hello to lots of new people.

I put up my Chicken poem at the Chicken coop,

And my scooter poem at the skate park.

Gary (owner of chickens) was chuffed with the poem, and in return for a copy of it, gave me 3  freshly laid eggs from his chickens!

I met a woman – Shirley Wells –  who is a crime novellist, who sets all her novels (10 of them!) in the local area.  So I went to the library and took out one of her books!  Then I told the librarians that I’d just met her in the park, and they said they’d try and get her into the library to do a talk!  Quite an unexpected occurrence.  Insider info: her dog, Dylan, is named after her main detective.  You heard it here first.

Tried to write the kids rhyme/story that I’ve had in my head for the last couple of weeks – ‘The Boggart of Stubbylee Park’, the start of which is:

The Boggart of Stubbylee Park,
Thinks it’s a bit of a lark,
To steal people’s things
Especially their rings
And say ‘Boo!’ awfully loud in the Dark.

He’s always thinking of food,
Or ways to be naughty or rude
If you give him an inch
Your butties he’ll pinch,
Then he’ll giggle out loud “I’m the dude!”

Though it’s mightily tricky to tell,
His home is down deep in the Dell.
There’s a bridge made of stone,
Where he lives all alone,
Creating a very bad smell.

He washes himself in the stream,
While planning a devilish scheme,
To be a bit sly,
and purloin a meat pie,
Which he’ll eat with stolen ice-cream.

It’s a work in progress. Might try and polish it up.  Maybe.  Or walk away…

So.  The plan now is to type up all the snatches of stories and put it together with my work and make a book.  December is the planned launch date… if you want to be notified – let me know.

I’ve absolutely loved my time in Stubbylee, andmeeting all the people and dogs!

I know I’ll be back.  Many times.

Till then… ta-ra.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today was the final day

It’s been a few days since I’ve written as I was working elsewhere for a couple of days.  I feel sad that this is the last day I’ll spend working in Corporation Park and living in the lovely windswept house with all the other artists in Briercliffe.

It has been a journey through time. I’ve travelled around the park and learned about the past, through talking in the present and imagining the present.

Today I painted a message from the conservatory…