Monthly Archives: January 2020

English Borders / It Brex

  1. English Borders

We know Scottish Borders, – it’s the county next to England, it shares its border with it,

and that’s what it’s named after. Yet there is no county called English Borders. As if there is no common border, as if Scotland is not next to England. And that’s impossible! Obviously, a border always has two sides. But one side doesn’t seem to talk about it.
They used to, in way: old maps show that where I am now in north-west Cumbria, was once part of the ‘Scottish Marches’, – but they were so-named as an area of battle, not in an affectionate way, not as place to meet in the middle, half-way.

An unspoken border, in half. Ignoring a frontier could be a good thing but what if it’s at the cost of ignoring one’s neighbour? Is the idea that the bigger country doesn’t need to refer to the smaller one?
There’s unequal stuff and unfair history around borders between quite a few countries, putting constellations out of sync, I think. I remember as a child I found it unfair that Denmark was too small compared with Germany. Denmark should have had more land (it’s not fair otherwise!), because once upon a time I believed that all our countries are of the same size. That’s what equality meant for me, totally idealistically, I assumed everything really was equal. But reality wasn’t that straightforward to start with.

Being where we are then, at least size shouldn’t matter, we need a seismic change! There should be diplomacy, recognition and friendliness that would acknowledge the border on both sides of itself, so to make it a common border, a meeting point, a connecting line of a union. A union must be respected, mutually, otherwise there can be no union.
A union, what’s that now? – United Kingdom, Trade Union, European Union? Respect?

Within them tales of two halves in different ways. Splits in Britain between and within the countries in its union. Since uni- !?- fication, Germany has a similar situation with east and west Germany. It’s probably not going off in the same way at the moment – although it could get worse – because there isn’t Brexit in the way.
Is Brexit the most extreme form of ‘The Divided Self’ (R.D. Laing) in a nation, not just an individual?

2. It Brex (Brexit): Eng – land

A story of two halves – here once again. So now it’s Britain that’s in the ‘middle of it: and all its parts: Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and England – that’s 4 times 2, at least: so many bits and splinters. “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold”, as the Irish poet W.B. Yeats rightly said. But on top of that the centre is now stuck with itself: unlike Scotland or Northern Ireland, it can’t break away, – it’s stuck, but only one half of it might think it is stuck: in the picture below this is the ‘land’.

‘Eng – land’ is depicting its internal division it has had since the referendum. One half of

the country, the ‘Eng’ has gone over the cliff edge and is on the sea, the other half ‘land’ is still on land – though ‘Eng’ now assumes ‘land’ has gone with it, though the land has an infinite line after the last letter that connects the country to other entities.
‘Eng’ and ‘land’ have a dash between them – and extended hyphen. They are now in an uneasy symbioses: the ‘land’ can be dragged further down into the sea by the ‘Eng’, and it’s that first half of the country that has the capital letter (because it is the half that is in power / empowered. The ‘land’ cannot divorce itself from the ‘Eng’, and is left at its mercy.
The little island in the sea, and the big lake on the land show movement and mutual influence between the two. But the island in the sea is smaller than the lake in the land: the lake has more impact, and also the water is eroding the land by the coast – so it’s the ‘land’ in danger, whereas the ‘Eng’ is making the dangerous moves.
What’s next? I don’t know, that’s why my sketch is inconclusive. It’s a way of showing the danger, a sketch for thought.

And here’s the poem I wrote after receiving this new thing called “Settled Status”.

Quo Vadis?

I’ve now got Indefinite
Leave to Remain!
What are you
leave or remain?
I mean what do you think
Leaver or remainer
what’s left, what remains?

How odd is this
shifting sand of an island
that we live in
how old is our community
when did we reach out?
And when did we refuse
refugees, or become them
if ever we could
really do so
have enough experience
to say so?

How do you define
a settled status?
How settled could you
ever be and how
unsettled have I become?
How do we settle
the division between us
what’s left, what remains?

What do we leave behind
and how do we remain focussed
Foreigners and Friends
the Settled, the Unsettled, and
the as yet Undecided
Friends and Foreigners without frontiers
it’s about us
where are we now?
With a harder border in our midst, crusting
creasing, screaming.                                                      Ursula Troche, 8.2019

Art after a year

Art post 1 year: A reverse double countdown would take us into this new decade – I mean, count down from 10 twice, reverse this and so reach 20. On another time-scale,

the end of the last decade made a year in our upper northern location of the west Cumbrian pre-Scottish coastline, side by side with the Irish Sea. Sea-Sides and coast-Lines, and roundabout ways of getting somewhere has made me look at lines. So from now on we are in our second year here. There’s been a lot of artput, i mean art output since, and I like  to respond in it sto some of our urgent issues. For ex, how coastlines get eroded, and on my sketch here is a coastline which was a line and then got broken. So here’s the image of that. So here it’s decay, but it could be deconstruction as well: a porous border(line). Can you walk through the line, or do you have to ‘walk the line’?

Line art
Line of a Walk: this is a walk with a map and it looks like we tried to go up sky scrapers or so, but in fact they were piers in our little harbour.

One day we wanted to go for a walk around the pier – which is possible at low tide – and so, when the tide was less than three hours before its lowest point, we thought that the ‘outness’ of the tide was enough for us to be able to go around the pier. Once we got closer to the far end of the former shipyard beach where we started our pier-circle, we saw the tide was in fact not out enough! We turned back and decided to approach

Belly art, feminist
In my writing I often bring myself in, and I had the desire to do it in my art as well. I am interested in the body because it’s a feminist issue and because I am a life model too. So I

decided to us my belly for printing! The outcome was amazing: it looked like an ocean, or a galaxy: patterns echo! As for the ocean-association, it could even be my local Irish Sea, because my navel at the centre makes for a blank space in the print – just right for the outline of the Isle of Man! Belly button island then. And it’s here where women got the vote in 1881: how fitting to portray the island then with my centrepiece, my navel.

Since our residency at the Merzbarn, I have started on sculpture. Using found and

rubbish materials, such as those tomato-, orange- and onion-nets that I had been using before in my assemblages.

Art with words.
I found that often my art feels complete when I include words in it. I have here my ‘transition paining, because some of them are old, some of them I had only partially done and have now completed them all these years after: so it’s a meeting of the years. After a

while of figuring out how to put things together, I realised also I could mix techniques, and don’t have to keep to one at a time.

I had thought of including another layer into these paintings but haven’t got round to it yet, so the painting, and collaging, continues! Watch this artspace, so to speak, so to sketch… It’s still work in progress, but it’s coming along, and progress is always a nice development and unfolding of things and ideas coming together in some kind of materialised form and shape.      – – – …and there’s more, my Ursonate sketches, also inspired by the Merz barn residency, and of course, the old collages and asemblages, so there’s more to write and show, as always, and it’ll come (out) in the next posts…