In 2011 I made a series of works that I refer to as “Burn” prints.
The series was made by placing a flat house shape, made from melamine, into a fire. Whilst the shape was burning I placed it on to paper. When the shape was removed a print was left; a ghostlike brand. During the burning the melamine surface fractured and the resulting burned shape have an appearance of a map or aged skin.
For Keepsake I am making a new series of prints, using a simple rectangular piece of melamine.
Home and family are for most of us at the core of our sense of ourselves. If we are fortunate they are secure enough that we can hold onto them and grow, but even in good times we have an awareness and fear of the threat of their loss. I have been a politically engaged person all my adult life and whilst my first response to the Grenfell fire and to so many deaths was one of anger about its social and economic context (and that perspective has not diminished) I have thought more and more about the many personal losses of the bereaved survivors.
The idea of the Keepsake project made me think about those things we might value and want to hang onto because they memorialise how we came to be who we are. I decided that one of my images would relate to a special family event. For such events there is often the one-off ceremonial garment. I still have fragments of my mother’s wedding veil from the 1930s, but for this project the loss of children’s lives made me think in particular of a baby’s baptism bonnet. Baptism is essentially a denominating event which marks the newcomer formally entering their cultural group.
I wanted my second image to depict an ordinary household object which could be elevated in a particular family to a special status. My image is of a glass sugar basin and sugar spoon. This particular basin was my mother’s, I saw it every day a child, as did my children who went to their school from her home. It is probably nearly 100 years old. I showed the image to my son, now in his forties and settled in the USA for more than 20 years and asked him if he knew what it was and he answered instantly “Nanna’s sugar bowl”. How fortunate are we that this ordinary item I took with me when my mother died is still our sugar bowl. I have recently wondered what seemingly ordinary items make their way in the backpacks of refugees across continents and what will be the stories told about them.
As a printmaker I usually use a combination of different printing techniques with hand finished drawing and additional colour. My images for Keepsake have a surface print background using embossed wallpaper. Memories of the past and of childhood often involve a remembered wallpaper pattern on a bedroom wall. The sugar bowl is depicted by a drypoint on plastic plate. Other parts of the images are created with marker pen.
PARTICIPATING ARTISTS: Shaeron Caton-Rose / Morwenna Catt / Jez Coram / For The Love Of People & Collaborators / Pat Harvey / Caroline Hick / Phill Hopkins / Hatti McKenzie / Eva Mileusnic / Jane Sedgwick / #Viraltile
KEEPSAKE EXHIBITION LAUNCH – 14 June 2018, Bradford Cathedral
The work in this exhibition has been created specifically to coincide with the first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in London.
The artworks are a way for us to remember and mark the lives lost and to reflect on the issues surrounding this avoidable tragedy. Each artwork is donated by the artists and all sales go directly to the Justice4Grenfell (J4G) campaign.
On the fourteenth day of every month, J4G organise a Silent Walk in London and will continue to do this for people who cannot do it for themselves until justice is seen to be done. On 14 June we will be organising a Bradford Silent Walk in solidarity with the Grenfell community which will happen in parallel with those walking in London.