As part of Occupation I have also designed a flag for Diglis Island.
The two different-sized blue sides represent the two levels of water achieved by the weir and locks either side of the Island, the ring signifies that it’s part of The Ring, and green for the Island itself - but with the same-level blue inside to reference the flooding.
Inside the ring is a symbol that represents the lock gates, the buildings on the Island, and the structures I am making. Finally, a life-bouy orange roundel with crown represents the Island’s only resident, Joyce.Posted by Rich
After a year in development Occupation, my project for The Ring in Worcester, has finally begun. So now it’s time to begin documenting the work as it progresses, and reveal a little of the background behind it.
Diglis Island has been a place of purpose and activity from its creation in 1844 (carved from a bend in the River Severn) to the mid-80s when its use as a hub for maintenance along the Severn and connected canals was transferred elsewhere.
At its peak approximately 80 people would’ve been working on the Island, building and fixing lock gates, dredging the river, and operating the locks to guide petrol tankers to the basin.
During WWII the Island was fortified with barbed wire, trenches and loophole windows (and possibly land mines) in order to protect the delivery of fuel.
As the use of canals waned activity on the Island dropped away. Now it is a quiet place, with a workshop that is unused, a small staff from C&RT, and a single resident in one of the three cottages. The only activity being the passing through the lock of tourists in narrow boats and the blacksmiths forge - now repurposed by a pewter sculptor. There is occasional excitement when the locks are drained and the gates fixed or replaced, or when the Island becomes periodically submerged due to flooding. Few people realise it is an island.
The purpose of my project is to rekindle interest in the Island by returning it (albeit briefly) to a place of activity and production, and creating an identity for the Island - making it distinct from the mainland. I aim to do this by producing a structural sculpture that will grow over a period of time. This sculpture has been inspired by the form of the locks, the buildings present on the Island and its history as a place of practicality, construction, maintenance and defence. The title ‘Occupation’ refers to the aspects of work and habitation that have occurred over the years, along with my own temporary taking over of part of the Island.
To achieve this sense of activity and occupancy I have begun building a structure on the Island. This structure will grow gradually over a number of months, with two or three structures added every few weeks, slowly taking over a patch of grass and concrete next to the crane. Regular users of the towpath will notice as the structure grows, and also might catch a glimpse of me as I work on the Island. I’ll be updating this website with the work’s progression too.
My residency at The Art House is almost coming to an end. I’ve made 117 drawings so far, and there are a few more to come, and I’ve started to hang them in the project space at The Art House ready for the final show on 31 January. The show coincides with ArtWalk Wakefield, celebrating its tenth year, and four micro residencies as part of a joint project between The Art House, The Hepworth and We Are.
Join me and the micro residency artists Holly Rowan Hesson, Emma Papworth, Joe Jackson and Artist Yoke (Annie Nelson and Chris Woodward) at The Art House, Wakefield, from 5pm on Wednesday 31 January to see what we’ve been up to.Posted by Rich
I’m just over half-way into my residency at The Art House, Wakefield.
Starting to think about where the work is heading and how it’s going to be presented for the final ‘exhibition’ at the end of the month.
It’s nice to be in slightly unknown waters.Posted by Rich
Some drawings produced during the first eight days of my residency at The Art House, Wakefield.
I’m using the time and space to have a bit of a departure from my usual practice. Rather than building something I’ve decided to concentrate on drawing, at least for now. As I haven’t really done this for a long time I thought the best thing to do you be to just dive in and not think too much about what it all means. If I hesitate and worry too much about whether it will work or not I’ll never start.
The initial idea was to create drawings in a similar way to how I create sculpture: the materials are straightforward, there are a set of simple rules or processes to carry out, and repetition, resulting in very simple yet evocative forms.
These may lead to sculptures, they may be works in themselves, they may be discarded. For now I’m having a lot of fun just making things without worrying too much about having to have ‘results’.
All are ink and water on A3 paper.Posted by Rich