Monthly Archives: March 2018

That Was the Women’s Week that was!

TWTWWTW! And this one’s serious! It was International Women’s Week! Not to be confused with the comedy ‘That was the Week that was’ then, though it sometimes might tell (an alternative version of) that story too. Tell it to the BBC! – and all…

First and foremost this week this year I wanted to celebrated a hundred years. I thought that was the big theme: a hundred years of votes for women! It wasn’t exactly 100 for women like me, without property, as I wrote in this poem, which came out in the EList, Waltham Forests’ unique and exemplary art info magazine (an example which other

boroughs should follow), but I am still celebrating this year because the struggle to get as far as the suffragettes did was very hard, so we have to give thanks to them who paved the way for us. My poem is a compressed version of my earlier blog post “100 +10”, and I decided to make the “plus 10” into a “minus 10”.

Neither a placard with ‘100 years’ on it, nor the Isle of Man’s world record of introducing women’s suffrage in 1881 featured at the annual Women of the World – WOW festival at London’s South Bank Centre. What a disappointment I thought! Fair enough, International Women’s Day itself had had it’s 100-year anniversary already in 2011 – so IWD is older than women’s suffrage – but for some reason this centenary grabs me even more. The Mind the Gap placard is from the WOW festival though, which i absolutely love, and would love to know who made it – so please if you know let me know (it was not actually from this year’s Women’s Week, it was from last year’s Week…)

I celebrated IWD by looking for prime suffragette (and active anticolonialist!) Sylvia Pankhurst! I mean, I looked for her sculpture in Mile End Park. On a day as significant as

this you might have expected other women paying homage to her, but there was no other pilgrim I encountered. Sadly, it’s not very well known she has a sculpture there. And sadly, her name is not mentioned in front of her sculpture – so if you haven’t googled for her, and you don’t happen to recognise her, you could pass by the sculpture and still not know! The fact that next to her is a representation of a mule doesn’t help, because she could be mistaken for a peasant.

Near where she is, there are boards telling you about the different kinds of spiders and beetles that live in Mile End Park, but there is no board to tell you about Sylvia Pankhurst! Just like with Elizabeth Garrud, the suffragette outside Finsbury Park, who I visited on the 6th February, the day of the centenary of votes for women (also in 100+10 blog post). She too, is not mentioned by name, and neither are the other two sculptures next to her. When googling, I found out that these sculptures were put up by the cycling charity Sustrans, in 2011 and 2013 respectively. It’s great they are publicly commemorating important people, but why can’t they put a name to them? Even the

sculptor him-or herself hasn’t been mentioned!

I remembered that the year before I found another sculpture in Beam Valley Park, between Dagenham and Hornchurch, which also features a women’s rights activist, maybe a trade unionist, I still don’t know because the sculpture doesn’t say! Look at this lovely pic and let me know. And then let Sustrans know that their sculptures are highly appreciated but could they please name them. Public memorials, after all, should be educational I think, otherwise they can’t even encourage women passers-by. And the point of women’s history, impact and significance is once again compromised, even made invisible. A sculpture, of course, is the opposite of invisibility, but if you don’t know who you are looking at, the perception of visibility is not guaranteed.

Later in the day, still on IWD, when I went to the South Bank to the WOW festival, I found, to my surprise that there was little going on! The market, so typical of the festival I thought, had not yet been set up, and all there was were empty benches! There was an event in the evening, fair enough, but the then-missing market, me and another feminist were told, would be up at the weekend – but we thought that IWD is the most important cause for the whole festival, this was the Day Par Excellence, and most of what we saw was emptiness! Wow! Yes, WOW indeed…

I did go back on the Sunday – and, amongst a lot of other things, reflected on the overlooked female forms within architecture (I always seem to come up with my own

events by thinking about things). So on the Sunday I was a little more impressed, but I think we have to take the day itself more serious. Not just as a festival of course. More like a reminder for the kind of revolution we should engage in, which has to be one for peace, because patriarchy, like capitalism and white supremacy is divisive and violent. We desperately need something more peaceful, more kindness, more communication, more fairness, more awareness, for the planet and all of ourselves, equality for all!

 

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About Our Art / ‘Terminalista’

Time lapse: it’s International Women’s Day and I am talking about the 23rd February still (so I’ll do IWD after this) – which in itself became a double occasion: I went to see the exhibition in which I had pieces in, and this happened on Terminalia Day, the annual festival of psychogeography – named after Terminus, Roman god of boundaries – edges between spaces, critical or lurid lines, which we psychogeographers are so interested in.

 

And so I went to the South-East, (see previous post), to Torquay – (time lapse, space lapse), to see The Art of You – so this exhibition is ‘about our art’, whereas my Terminalia festival participation means, I’d suggest, that I am a Terminalista.

Orkweed

So here it is: my pieces and the journey, oh where to start! Let me start at the intersection of the two. My prime piece in the exhibition (for it was the only framed one) was my Orkweed, which, by being framed, made a journey down the coastlines! It’s a seaweed from Orkney, so I called it Orkweed. Within Orkney, it is from the small but beautiful island of Papa Westray – and now it was on show in Torquay. So it’s travelled a long way but it’s stayed close to the coast, so it was still in its favourite surrounding there! It’s made a connection, a line, from Papa Westray to Torquay, and I made a line by ‘taking’ it, photographically (think Richard Long, ‘line artist’ (I mean his work ‘A Line made by Walking’) – and here developed a long line from northern Scottish coast, where I ‘took’ it, to southern Devon coast, where it was ‘hung’).

 

The Journey 

Getting there, on Terminalia Festival Day, was an ‘unpsychogeographic’ act in the traditional sense, in that psychogeography is about walking, (and making sense of space while walking) , and here my major travel piece was a train journey.  Therefore I had three ‘pieces’: First to Paddington – requiring movements within London to get  there – then the train bound for Paignton, get off second to last stop Torquay, and then the Torquay walk. So the train enabled a transition between two large spaces. The train-

 

journey was also a very different sort of boundary (or anti-boundary!) between my walks: a connecting one. The journey was ‘moving’ (well, not surprisingly)., especially when I passed by Newbury: here I would, once upon a time, have gotten off to get to Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp. Wow! How many peacemakers and feminists got off here not too long ago – and now it looks as if nothing had ever happened!  Like an erasure, a place with a high risk of forgetting.

The other big event on the journey which involved a lot of ‘moving’ was the bit by the

 

coastline, the moving, rising, roaring sea, especially the journey through delightful Dawlish. The waves were so high that I worried the line we were travelling on might

 

break once again, like it did in 2014. Devon might sound mellow, but this coast certainly wasn’t – it felt more like in the Outer Hebrides than Devon. Apparently this was already the beginning of Storm Emma, and the following week, after both snow and storm, the train station turned into a waterway rather than a railway.

Then came Torquay: hill harbour – one stop after Torre which is just the hill in itself. So there’s an upstairs downstairs thing going on here. Even musically it sounds that way: Tor-quay: I could sing it like a kind of echo sent from up high, to reach down below. Harbour Deep Mountain High! I knew before that Torre is another station in Torquay,

 

but I thought it was on a different line – now I realised that both stations are on the same line! How interesting to find just how dots are connected by lines, and sometimes all the dots you find may be connected by a single line!

Starting my walk, I go to the sea first, for this is the edge, as far as I can go. And now I

 

find the tide is low! This happens to me a lot: whenever I go to the sea, the tide is low! That means, the land is more exposed, parts of the beach can be seen which are regularly submerged by water. I am, as usual, more likely to meet the times of exposure, the receding tide, coupled with the expanding land. I like this: it’s the ebb tide I am used to,and the ebb tide I like: when stones and seaweed, shells and things, are appearing, and when birds have more space to stand on the wet sand of these expanding between-times. It’s ephemeral at this outer edge before the waterline.

Then I walk up the hill to the hostel I am staying at, and on the way I pass by the famous

 

Torre Abbey, and by the Artizan gallery where my Orkweed is in and all other things gallery. Just before getting there, I found a symbolism for dots arranged into a single line, with ventilators on a low rooftop in a row – like the stations: dots on the same line, not

 

different. Then i find an eggbox-mask, later a ‘gardener’, on the street!

 

The exhibition

The Art of You exhibition was great. We were a bunch of diverse artists, with diverse work. All of us showed our personal relationship to Art, and what it does for us. What stood out was that those of us with belongings in different places – i.e. origins in more than one country –used our art as a way to show how our different origins connect with each other, so art relates to identity and to our multicultural-ness. So art becomes a thing beyond art too, it becomes a medium, an instrument, a platform to speak and to show with. It reminds me of Steve Bandoma who said “ my culture is my physique, my art is my metaphysique.

My exhibits were, apart from my Orkweed were  a ‘Leaf in the Light’ and a a flower ‘Sun-Soaked and Serene’. And then there was my narrative. How art relates to

 

psychogeography, and how I related to the two and all that stuff. I could go on and on but won’t because I haven’t written enough about the other artists either! There was lots of deep work, the one that immediately appealed to me was Muhammad Taymour’s ‘Gazing Game’: a film about how we gaze at each other, using surreal ‘substitutes, starting with what i thought was a parody on ‘how did the chicken cross the road’. Well yes, how do we cross, whatever ‘crossing’ may be mean, and when do we cross, and do we cross at all, or do we go in a straight line on the same side of whatever path we are following, never crossing over? Oh, and now, at the time of writing, the next exhibition is on already, so go and find out, it’s in the nicely painted turquoise building in Lucius Street.

‘London Bridge’

The remainder of my exhibition and Terminalia weekend was a wider exploration of south Devon just before the snow fell in. So there is more to say, more to write, as usual. I found a ‘piggy island’ off the coast, which is a rock that looks like a piggy in the sea. And then I found ‘London Bridge’! This sounds like a joke but walk along the coast, just

 

outside Torquay harbour on the coastal path, there comes Beacon Cove, Peaked Tor Cove, and then London Bridge! There’s a Daddyhole Plain too look… London pops up everywhere, it seems I didn’t need to go back then?!