Monday, 29 August 2011

Salford Dérive

'One of the basic situationist practices is the dérive (literally: "drifting"), a technique
 of rapid passage through varied ambiances. Dérive involves playful-constructive
 behaviour and awareness of psychogeographical effects, and are thus quite different
 from the classic notions of journey or stroll.'

Published in Internationale Situationniste #2, 1959

I am always interested in exploring the underside of the city, particularly when it 
includes rivers. Today on a rainy Bank Holiday Monday, we set off along the Irwell,
to find out what happens to it beyond Victoria Station, where it disappears on the
map. This usually means it is culverted, but in this case not.  There are so many 
bridges that it almost disappears, but there are no tunnels, and to our delight, we 
kept refinding it. 

Once the river has gone under New Bridge Street, there are riverside paths on both sides, 
green and lush, giving the impression of being far from the city. 

But then the path takes us back to the margins of the city, the edgeland, which is
 mostly overlooked. 

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Age of Revolution 1789-1848 by Eric Hobsbawm

Book Review

Reading Eric Hobsbawm's book 'The Age of Revolution 1789-1848' is like swimming in a rough sea. The next wave of information hits you before you have surfaced from the last one leaving you overwhelmed and a little disorientated! It is a dense book. Each paragraph merits a chapter of its own, and each chapter a book. But if you are looking for an overview of a period of history that did more than any other to shape our current situation, then this is the one.

Hobsbawm is not the easiest of writers, but I've had this book for probably 20 years, and as an introduction to the difficult reading I'm going to have to do once I start my MA, I decided to tackle it, and set myself a 30 page/day challenge. In order to fulfil my timetable, I had to accept that I would not absorb much of the information, but the broad picture did sink in, and it has been a fascinating read.

The Marxist credentials of the writer are never far from the surface, but considering the period covered by this book, they provide an ideal structure for political and economic analysis. In particular, the chapters on the Industrial Revolution, Nationalism, the Labouring Poor, and Secular Ideology really helped me to understand what happened in Manchester and why.

Nearly 50 years after its publication, this book is still a goldmine of information, and a great starting point for further study.                                              

Friday, 26 August 2011

Leaf Street, Hulme

I've been feeling creatively frustrated recently, so to get a bit of perspective,  I wrote down everything I've done over the last year. I realised that alongside the collaborations which have been really great fun and really successful, I've done a lot of research that for one reason or another, hasn't translated into actually making things. So I've decided to use the research for the 'Placed' exhibition proposal that has yet to find a home, and make another artists' book.

When I showed 'Cow Lane, Salford' last year, lots of people asked me if I would make a book about Hulme, so I've been studying maps looking for an appropriate street. I've found the perfect one, just next to where I used to live. Leaf Street was laid out in the 1830's when the new district of Hulme was being planned. It's seen a lot of changes, but  has kept it's original location. The book will show the three waves of development in Hulme from 1819 to the present day.

I'm hoping to get it finished in time for the Manchester Artist's Book Fair in October, and if possible, have copies for the Rogue Open Studio. It will be similar to the one I made about Cow Lane, Salford, and I will be using what I learnt to speed up the production process! I've done the research this week and have already started drawing the illustrations, so am on track to meet my deadline.