Lubaina Himid’s Sexy Slapdash Squares

I’m in the second-floor gallery at mima. I’m surrounded by an amazing array of art. I need to choose maybe half a dozen artworks as my focus. I’m a writer-in-residence. I’m going to use their archived records as source texts for erasure poems, but I have no idea what kind of documents are kept on file. What do I choose?

My first choice, without a moment’s hesitation, is Toussaint L’Ouverture by Lubaina Himid. It’s huge, bold, and contains loads of brilliant collage elements. I know that I want to use collage as an erasure technique in my found poems. Himid is definitely a good choice.

mima envelopeSkip forward a few weeks, and I’m at home when an enormous padded envelope arrives from the mima team. Inside is a ream of photocopied archive documents, including several about Himid’s work. There is an extensive biography, an acquisition statement, and a detailed condition report from a conservator. This last document includes a thorough treatment proposal, full of technical suggestions on how to repair and maintain the painting.

I start from waaaay inside my comfort zone – a tiny found poem spied in the condition report, simple and quite abstract. It’s all about colour, but not about race. I know I’ll have to work out how to respond to Himid with some shred of socio-political consciousness, but I haven’t thought it through yet. I just want to do some erasure using collage squares that are as exuberant as the ones that Himid has used to make the floor under Toussaint’s boots.

Himid collage squares

I ransack my stack of magazines for images featuring gold and yellow, cut them into rough squares, and set about it with a Pritt stick. Bliss.

“Gold has yellowed….yellowed…yellows”

Gold Yellows collage after Himid

Is this developing my creative practice? It’s not so far away from work I’ve made in the past, although I’ve never made a process video before. I love time lapse! OK, I will try to do more of these videos, and framed better, without so much of my belly-bulge showing. But first I have a hankering to do some stop-motion.

Tune in next week to find out what I manage to squeeze from a treatment proposal, and why I start regretting the whole endeavour…

Fiddling on with film

Hey hey, how’s it going?

I have a new filmpoem for you to look at – it’s VERY amateurish, hooray. I filmed my shadow at Hartlepool station when waiting for a train one morning. (Pretty soon I’m going to have a collection of work entirely created at Hartlepool station while waiting for trains). There are two soundtracks overlaid; one is a free download of wind chimes, the other is my annoying voice being much more boring-intoning-typical-poet than I’d like. Anyhoo, give it a look if you’d like 🙂

Even Though I Looked, Even Though I Listened

Oh, and the poem itself was written in response to work by Louise Bourgeois, during a workshop led by the rather super Lisa Matthews.

louise-bourgeois-art-is-a-guarantee-of-sanity-body-image-1459766804

Ekphrastic project – James Cowie’s ‘The Yellow Glove’

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Oh my dear, it was too, too dreadful!

Mortal mind can scarce conceive –

At least, not yours, darling Vi,

Yours would have shrunk. Violets do shrink,

It’s an immutable law, like death, or gravity,

Or who sits to the left of the Bishop.

“Bother immutability” that silly boy would say,

And therein lies the drastic horror of the thing,

For Pongo positively pushed it this time!

Doubtless the dear old Duchess toot sweet

Snipped him merrily from the Will, singing

“Cold porridge to primogeniture!” So you see,

I simply had to pop back the jolly old ring

And hoof it hotfoot before the bean began blubbing.

It’s a rotten sausage, but there it is.

Now, do try one of mine – they’re Turkish.