The last couple of weeks have been busy but productive. I visited Sheffield during Personal Development Week, which meant that I could get on with some of the work I have needed to do over there.
I have been developing the idea for my planned pilgrimage and I photographed parts of the route I will be walking along as I drove over to Sheffield. I have also been developing my ideas about what to leave as offerings along the way and I have decided to use stones. I gathered some of the stones from my parents’ garden while I was visiting, which I can then leave as I walk, shedding the weight, or burden, as I go. I am also considering writing something on the stones, although I have not yet decided what that may be.
While visiting my parents, I also had chance to dig up a bit of their garden to go in a small tin (which my dad was not very happy about). This piece of work is entitled A Little Piece of Home. The idea is that the tin containing a bit of my parents’ garden can be carried around. Eventually I will make a care kit to go alongside the tin. At the moment I am still getting to grips with the care needed to keep my unusual house plant alive!
As well as these other projects, visiting Sheffield also allowed me to visit and photograph former steelworks and other former industrial buildings around the city. I could have used a digital camera but I much prefer to use film, so shot on 35mm film. When developed, I will make prints and eventually print the images onto sheets of steel. I will probably do this by screen printing with acid.
I’ve been working on a project which revolves around the idea of the loss of innocence. In the summer my mum became ill and I no longer felt any comfort at my childhood home. I especially felt that it was suddenly much smaller than I remembered it to be, in particular the garden which had once felt so big. I’m interested in the idea of trying to hold onto the past and fighting change. I think that people do this because it feels like, by stopping change, we can hold back time and inevitably hold off death.
I began by thinking about cutting up a square foot of my parents’ garden and letting the grass die, but this seemed too literal. I have now moved onto the idea of cutting up a small piece of their turf which will be put into a tin and cared for, allowing me to carry a little piece of home around with me. This tin will also have a portable care kit, including scissors, plan food and a watering can. I like the complete dependence that the grass will have on me and the effort required to keep the past alive.
Another piece of work which has been brought about by this idea of a lost home, will involve me walking from my house in Chester to my parents house in Sheffield. I originally planned to do this after finishing university in the summer, the work for my degree show exhibition coming from the planning required for such a trip. However, at a tutorial yesterday I have been encouraged to make the trip sooner, possibly during the Easter holidays. The walk will be a pilgrimage for me, back to a sacred site, and could perhaps be seen as an act of contrition for having been gone for so long. I am very interested in history and I have been thinking about and researching medieval pilgrimages to shrines. The idea was raised yesterday of leaving a token behind as I travel and I think this links nicely with the idea of pilgrimage and offerings. I am still thinking about what could be left behind but I like the idea of something earthy and natural, perhaps carving into trees or leaving pebbles that have been inscribed. I plan to tweet as I travel to keep people up to date with my progress. I also plan to contact local media to let them know what I’m up to. It would be great if people joined me for parts of the trip as I go along. I have to work out details yet, but the distance will be about 81 miles and I predict that it will take me around 8 days to make the trip, crossing over the Peak District National Park and perhaps making a personal detour to Bakewell where I got married in 2005.