A project which began with the idea of visiting each of the Anglican parish churches in Worcestershire and reading The Bible at the same time: Wandering and wondering about our church buildings, our society and world affairs and seeing what happens along the way.
Ongoing blog: worcestershirepilgrimage.wordpress.com
The project formed the basis for Fine Art MA studies. Included are a statement from the graduate show and images from university exhibitions.
Scroll 2016 'Doing What We Do in the Chapel (Glos University Chapel, MA Interim Show)
Diagram of a Prayer - September 2017
“A diagram of a prayer” is how a cathedral spire is described in a story by author William Golding (The Spire, 1964). The visualisation of internal thought and the apparent human need to manifest an abstract idea is something which underpins my latest research project. As Golding’s protagonist explains: “The children of men require a thing to look at.”
My practice combines research, writing, image-making and sculptural installation, used as ways of thinking and learning around a subject-led project, and my current venture, which I’ve been examining throughout the MA process, involves visiting each Anglican parish church in my home county of Worcestershire. As I go, I’m also reading The Bible fully for the first time. Using all this as a starting point I’ve been able to explore wider ideas about the structures, visible and invisible, which lie at the heart of community.
Current affairs feed into the project, as do scientific discoveries, new technologies and relevant fascinating facts and fictions, which combine with personal writing and the affairs of my own life. Eventually, the gathered mass of information becomes a kind of flattened, layered narrative. This way of generating a foundation for a body of work (also comprising the work itself) has its roots in my professional background in journalism. In examining the research through image and assemblage, there is a further endeavour to find some story amongst the countless strands of linking information. There is also a drive to make some record of this unique place and time - plus, the work has led me to question and discover something about my own fundamental belief system. It has become my version of a 21st century pilgrimage, undertaken on foot, by car, via lines of text, by photograph, through digital signals and across cyberspace.
This exhibition marks a pause in the journey which finds me at a point where towers have been filling my thoughts, representing, as they do, power, willpower, fertility, virility, aspiration and folly - towers as containers for hopes and fears; something to look up to; something to look down from; embodying an instinctive drive to push upwards, away from everyday life. Inspired by texts, by a visit to Salisbury Cathedral, by those church towers dominating every settlement in Worcestershire, by a story of my own dreaming, and by current affairs and events occurring as I’ve worked (tower-obsessed Trump; the 9/11 anniversary; the Grenfell Tower incident), further meditation has come in the repetition of the motif – in building my own towers.
Working methods and materials reflect the wide-ranging and ongoing nature of the project. Found materials and everyday items are used and often return to their original purpose after exhibition. Works can be reworked or repurposed, reshuffled like a deck of cards to reflect a new situation. Structures act as containers for the research, following similar lines to work by the likes of Jeremy Deller, Simon Starling and Sally O’Reilly, in terms of limitless media, expression through material, participation outside the gallery arena and in the notion of working with information about information.
Worcestershire Pilgrimage will continue and where it ends or what form it will take is yet to be seen. Discovering what else will feed in, how viewpoints will change, how the world and my world, or my beliefs, will differ from beginning and to end will possibly be the most fascinating outcome.
CM September 2017