Toby and I went to South Square today for a bit of R&D and the family arts festival.

I was looking for visual remains/leftovers from previous exhibitions/activity in the space as a starting point for my drawings.

Downstairs some wool and leaves from a workshop earlier were on the floor as a temporary history of activity (woollen bunting being reworked by a local community groups, and leaves blowing through the door with the coming and going of people).

Upstairs a couple of chairs documented previous painting of and in the space with splatters and finger prints. The power sockets also had layers of paint built up like icing documenting the layers and layers of fresh white paint applied for new exhibitions that made me think of Mint Residue.


I very pleased to be involved in an upcoming micro residency / group show Residual Projects at South Square in Bradford this December/January.

There are 7 artists doing 6 week-long residencies looking at the residual layers of creative spaces and artistic practices.

I plan to make some drawings of residual objects (rubbish) found on site that are informed and developed through conversations with gallery visitors during my residency period (w/c 15th December).

Exciting stuff and a great project to dovetail my MA due completion end of November :)





Residual Projects | Group show | 05 December 2014 – 25 January 2015

Opening night – 05 December 7pm
Christmas Closure – 29 December 2014 – 05 January 2015
Closing celebration – 23 January 7pm

Seven artists – six residencies – one group show
Residual Projects is the culmination of an annual traineeship programme between South Square Gallery and The Hepworth Wakefield, which sees Curator Charlie Booth make her debut. Charlie explains,

‘Residual Projects is a critical look at traditional artists residencies, where work will be created and installed whilst the gallery is open. The result will be a group exhibition which grows week by week as different artists enter and leave the space. This is an interactive project, where visitors are invited to engage with the work being created so as to better understand the processes used and decisions made.’
Residual Projects is a series of miniature residencies with seven nationwide artists using the gallery to explore their own artistic interests whilst the gallery is open to the public. The work they create during their residency will be left for the next artist to negotiate. The aim is to create a dynamic group exhibition which explores how artists can work collaboratively.
All participating artists will be creating new work which responds directly to the physical architectural or social history of South Square Gallery and the history of Thornton.

Residual Projects is inspired by remnants of previous exhibitions that have taken place in the space. The building was originally a collection of stonemason’s cottages and for the last 30 years has been an art gallery and community centre. Today the gallery retains many of the domestic features left over from these houses as well as residual markers left over from
these houses previous art exhibitions.

Residual Projects also aims to explore different formats for artist residencies. The projects will be short sharp bursts of artistic activity followed by periods of reflection and evaluation.

This is the first of two stages of Residual Projects which will continue in Manchester in Spring 2015.

Participating artists and residency dates (Exact dates are subject to change):
1. Claire Weetman – Fri 5th Dec – Sun 7th Dec
2. Ian Jackson – Tues 9th Dec – Fri 12th Dec
3. Alice Bradshaw – Tues 16th Dec – Fri 19th Dec (dates tbc)
4. Rebecca Long and Cameron Muir Tues 6th Jan – Fri 9th Jan
5. Leah Hislop – Sat 10th Jan – Mon 12th Jan
6. Tom McGinn – Thurs 15th Jan – Sun 18th Jan


I’ve been in Naples with the family for my mum’s 60th birthday and got to see some rubbish things.

We went to Pompeii Scavi (Ruins) and the bins there were strangely decorate yet obsolete.

We also went to the Palazzo Arti Napoli and Salvatore Carannante had a piece called Spare Parts Sound Project; created sound from recycled objects.

It was interesting to see Naples in the aftermath of the Mafia rubbish crisis. The busy city streets were fairly clean with recycling bins, though one of the few city park parks by the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn di Napoli was abandoned like a waste ground seemingly for some underground/metro developments, the bins burned and tipped upside down, everything overgrown and desolate.


Thesis writing continues… The chapter and chapter sections are in place and have notes and references that are becoming sentences (or half sentences) that are becoming paragraphs, and are being moved around, expanded and deleted. I’ve not updated much about this writing process because writing about writing seems a bit excessive, despite one chapter focussing on excess, dematerialisation and language, but really the thesis writing is keeping me busy enough.

I have been reflecting on the writing process though and thought I would jot down some thoughts/realisations:

* Writing during Toby’s nap times only is not very productive. Just as I get into it (again), the writing is cut short by Toby waking up. Working when Toby napped worked fine during the research and drawing/newspaper production phase as it was something I could pick up and put down quite easily. However, academic writing is another matter.

* Of course it’s easier to study when Toby isn’t interrupting every 5 minutes (it’s actually impossible to write/think critically with a toddler around) but I have found a few tactics to combine toddler-entertaining with some elements of study: reading David Shrigley’s books (as he is one of my key artists I’m discussing) with Toby is very entertaining as every person in Shrigely’s drawings is either Mama or Daddy; and we also watched a 1917 black and white film of Tom Sawyer which Lars Tharp referenced when I asked him to value my rubbish at The Hepworth.

* Going into uni for a good few hours has been quite productive but very expensive paying for petrol and parking or bus fare each time. It’s good for minimal distraction for certain phases of writing but not always the best option.

* Working from home has become easier with the clearing out of my studio. I threw away the HOARD as it was taking up lots of space in the studio and was incomplete as a collection. I was originally considering doing something further with it but as some of it get lost in the various moves, it didn’t seem to make sense as an incomplete collection and actually was worthless to me as a collection. The bin men (or is it recycling operatives?) left half of it (mostly paper, but some glass bottles and cans) which was puzzling as these are materials that usually they will take in any quantity. I was at uni when they collected it so couldn’t chase them down the street with dictaphone in hand to capture some form of rationale, but SITA have promised me they will ‘investigate’.

* It’s difficult to stay focussed on the writing up of what I’ve already done and not get side-tracked by further research/practice. I intend to progress this work with a PhD which will involve further practice based research but the framework for that isn’t even in place and all my efforts need to be going into writing with the submission deadline looming. Having said that, I’m hoping to go to the Oxfam Wastesaver Open Day next Saturday in Batley http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/local-shops/wastesaver-batley It’s for volunteer recruitment but I’m drawn to the tour of the recycling plant aspect. I hope I can take Toby!

Here’s a recent Toby drawing of Mama:


Currently reading: Turn your trash into . . . Rubbish, art and politics. Richard Wentworth’s geographical imagination by Harriet Hawkins (University of Exeter), Social & Cultural Geography, Vol. 11, No. 8, December 2010


Hawkins introduces Wentworth’s practice focussing in on the photographs he takes of the second hand shops and discarded items on his day-to-day routes around Caledonian Road, North London, which the artist describes as a “portrait of place”. Hawkins’ analysis aims to focus on the poetics and politics of rubbish; “materials and practices [as] an exploration of the political potential and critical potency of object ‘re-use’.”

“What emerges is a ‘rubbish’ aesthetics that privileges material fluidity and circulation over fixity,” she writes.

Hawkins examines the crossover of geography with art history, theory and practice, in terms of the cultural turn and spatial turn. She notes Situationist International (1947–1972) and the emergence of psyhogeography “amongst other strategies, as a mode through which to critique the homogenizing relations of capitalism.”

The notion of everyday practices [de Certeau] plus Foucaldian power/knowledge theory underpins Hawkins’ analysis: “Wentworth forges his critical spatialities through an examination of other peoples’ [everyday] practices. He records object combinations he happens across on his daily walks, picturing these ‘ready-made’ entanglements of humans and non-humans in single photographs or in sets. […] Wentworth’s art of the everyday, […] stresses ‘everyday life’ as a space for the exercise and maintenance of social power and as a site of potential resistance to normative networks of power/knowledge (see, for example, Barnett 1998; Latham 2003).”

Hawkins examines the power relations within the work: “Wentworth’s work offers us a quieter, less pedagogic political position than many contemporary ‘interventionalist’ art practices but one that, as this paper will explore, is for all its elegance of form and materiality no less insistent in its critique.”

Hawkins looks “toward a politics and ethics of rubbish and other discarded materials.” As well as the geographies of art; the places, spaces and practices in and through which the work is made and experienced; the politics of display and the politics and places of arts’ production and consumption; and a geographical analysis of not just the ‘finished’ object of art, but to the sites, spaces and processes of its production, consumption and circulation.

Key works cited include: An Area of Outstanding Unnatural Beauty and Making Do and Getting By.

Part 1: A portrait of place: a geographical imagination built from rubbish

On the psychogeographical dimension: “Walking is central to Wentworth’s geographical imagination. In Wentworth’s case his walks are neither set up as the practice of art itself, like for example the singular long distance epics of Hamish Fulton and Richard Long, nor does the actual practice of walking come to have the transgressive political intent of Situationist meanderings. […] His daily perambulations foster a form of close observation, a type of repetitive, recursive, urban fieldwork.” Hawkins also later on references the Situationists’ attraction to discarded outmoded objects and marginal sites.

On the ethnographies and changing values of the discarded/second-hand objects in Wentworth’s photographs: “The arrangement of objects outside the shop ‘Turn Your Trash into . . . Cash’ is characteristic of a group of Wentworth’s photographs. Across this group Wentworth captures a spectrum of discarded things and their position within the economies of the city. Sitting outside such second-hand shops objects become associated with the potential re-sale and re-valuation enfolded within the ellipsis of that shop’s title: Turn Your Trash into . . . Cash. As ethnographies of second-hand consumption sites make clear, these are spaces of transition and transformation where an object’s materiality and meanings are negotiated and contested (Gregson and Crewe 2003; Gregson, Metcalfe and Crewe 2007). Also within Wentworth’s series are photographs of objects left lingering on street corners (Figure 2) or collapsed in doorways. Here object futures rely on their possible enrolment within an alternative economy of the city conducted on street corners and skips. Outside of the obvious resale environments the future re-use of the objects seems much more precarious. In their simplest form Wentworth’s photographs capture the changing of values.”

Matter Unbound: “The framing of discarded objects found in Wentworth’s works resonates with the range of ways in which scholars have thought through what Colloredo-Mansfeld (2003) terms ‘matter unbound’.”

On process (material fluidity): “The processes of materialization, of production and of waste, are ‘increasingly recognized to be as important as materiality itself.” (Buchli 2002: 16) […] Rubbish studies and the analyses of discarded and ‘out of place’ materials, from Mary Douglas (1984 [1966]) onward, have contributed much to the contemporary focus on materials in ‘process’, and to our understandings of the nature and dynamics of material transformations. Recently, disposal ethnographies, salvage geographies, and the aesthetics and ecologies of ruins have acknowledged the critical value of this instability of the meanings and physicalities of objects and places (DeSilvey 2007; Edensor 2005; Gregson, Metcalfe and Crewe 2007; Hawkins forthcoming). […] Wentworth’s cultural politics of rubbish joins an as yet rather limited body of work that embraces material fluidity for the critical value it offers as source of the fecund (DeSilvey 2006; Gregson, Metcalfe and Crewe 2007).”

On the instability (of material fluidity): “The instability and potentialities of Wentworth’s objects denies the collapse of the ‘everyday’ back into ‘art’ and so the resultant neutralization of their material politics. […] “Rubbish studies often centralize the instability of objects and the problems of using them to excavate or salvage traces of the past. […] Wentworth’s […] attention is less on unstable histories and more on the way in which such instability opens up alternative object futures, turn your trash into . . .”

Politics of display: Transgressions between art and everyday space and everyday objects and ‘art’ spaces. History; SI and Dadaist approaches. “The modes and practices of the once revolutionary blurrings of ‘art’ and ‘life’ have become common currency in contemporary art practice (see Buskirk 2003 and O’Dogherty 1987 for further discussions). […] The subject is ‘low’ and the work is displayed in such a way as to ensure that it stays ‘low’, materially at least resisting the reification associated with art.”

Hawkins argues that siting a readymade/everyday object in the gallery is much less politicised now [neutered]; “Seeing something ‘everyday’ situated in a gallery space tends to frame it discreetly as ‘art’, even if the critical value and intention of these objects was to make visible such a framing. […] Wentworth’s discarded objects—seen in photographs or incorporated into sculptures—refuse to settle, instead the objects continue to oscillate between the two conditions, discarded, devalued material in the street and object in an art gallery.”

Part 2: ‘Making Do and Getting By’

In this section, Hawkins looks at the poetics of common practice and politics of possibility, specifically the spatial politics, power relations and theories of practice of de Certeau, referencing keywords “strategy” and “tactics” in his book The practice of Everyday Life (Making Do). Hawkins analyses the subjects of Wentworth’s photographs as “tactics”; particularly the interactions between people and objects, and argues that the Wentworth’s photographs suggest object use that escapes the cultural over-codings of capitalism.”

Beyond signification objects become “all kinds of unspeakable ‘message bearers’ … material process … technical devices, instruments and graphics, and bodily capacities, habits and skills” (Whatmore 1999:29)

Hawkins also introduces the notion of “scrappy ethics (from Smith 1988) in relation to this analysis, as well as “an interface of sociality and material culture that decentres the ‘meaning’ of the objects in favour of a focus on ‘practical arrangements lived out through bodily activity” (Dant 2005:64).

On ‘lyrical materialism’: “Wentworth’s re-valued objects are not re-valued for what they mean but what they do, or rather what they could do and what people could do with them.” She describes his photographs are “en framing of tactics, small-scale political practices carried out on a daily basis and in an unconscious manner, practices which are set against the spatial constitution of dominant power relations” and “document embodied encounters with rubbish, picturing the interwoven fluidity of material culture and social life. […] What Wentworth pictures, however, is not discarded object being enrolled into the existing networks through which we understand their use, but rather he photographs instances where these objects become enrolled within new networks, put to work in different unintended role. […] Wentworth photographs object reuse based on a human attunement to object affordances and an assessment to their material properties” whose fabrications are “not solely human and not wholly conscious […] actions ‘devoid of foresight’ and have ‘an instantness about them’ (Wentworth quoted in Watkins 1992:6)” The re-use photographed is based on “material capacities, intensive internal properties and emergent capacities dependent on context.”

Wentworth identifies the importance of ‘a very well developed physical sense about the material characteristics of things, of the strengths and weaknesses of, for example a cup, tire or coat hanger” (Wentworth quoted in Watkins 1992:8)

Rubbish as interstitial material: “The critical ‘value’ of his previously undervalued objects lies not only in their indeterminacy but also in this interstitial condition. […] Insistent politics and ‘scrappy ethics’ attributed to rubbish as a fluid but also as an interstitial material, a material situated dynamically and uncertainly at the margins of the human and non-human (Buchli 2004; Butler, Laclan and Zizek 2000; Sennett 1970)”.

Hawkins also notes the democratizing effects of unstable materials: “Unstable materials become understood to have political potential. As Lipovetsky suggest, the inherent alienability of some object as fleeting and as frequent cast offs provides ‘the very terms by which social viability and enfranchised subjectivity are possible’ (1994:2410).

Hawkins notes that Wentworth’s work can appear apolitical but suggests that it operates within a more radical/critical political framework: “Buchli observes ‘the production and waste of objects … are two sites of larger process of materialism that facilitates the terms of social life, perpetuating its inclusions and exclusions as well as reworking and challenging them’ (2002:15). Realising the effects of such claims situates the politics and poetics or ‘rubbish’ and discard within a broader landscape of critical and radical politics.”

Summing up, Hawkins concludes (amongst other things) that works like Wentworth’s exemplifies/foreruns a move from “the fetish of the ‘new’, for here is a sense that artists need not stage opportunities, need not intervene, for things are already happening.”