I walk to camp every morning, it's about a mile and a half from my hotel and as it is nice weather it makes for a pleasant stroll. Yesterday I decided to walk along the beach more than the pavement (or rather bit that's not the road at times) and I saw what you quite often see on beaches, discarded bits of other people's lives washed up and redundant. However there was fucking loads of it. Normally you see it at home or wherever you are at a beach that has a lot washed up on it and you may find yourself feeling a little annoyed at the waste. It's funny how you can think these exact same words again, but how the context in which you use these words based on what you are seeing, where and why you are seeing it, it describes a totally different feeling, a feeling of apprehension, frustration and powerlessness, underwritten by sadness rather than anger not about wasted objects, but one that thinks of the waste of life and the waste of potential.
So before I walked along the shore I knew I'd encounter one or two of these (lifevests) as they have become symbolic of this whole crisis, it's like a Christian Boltanski wet dream of an installation down at the lifevests graveyard, I base this opinion on the picture that Katie, Polly and Isi showed me as they visited it yesterday. Big ready made installation of exodus. What strikes me when I see them now is the lack of feeling I now have about them, like saying in my head 'oh well then' they have become a vast quantity and when vast quantity happens it lowers the value. You lose sight of the people wearing them, a sense of complacency protects you from the dark.
Every morning I see these colours amongst the green and am reminded how beautiful this island is, and how amongst everything that's going on its good to enjoy simple pleasures, this island is also losing money as people aren't coming here as much these days, and after all these good people have done for their fellow man, we shouldn't be abandoning them. Come here on holiday and maybe you could help save their economy.
I remember buying a similar phone cover for my own child recently, I think it was a panda though and not pin. Refugees don't run around wearing sacks and originate from mud huts. That's the sand people from Star Wars you are thinking of. It is useful to remind yourself, and i am applying this to myself here, that people have left a normal life with normal things, but people don't tend to leave their mobile phones, the clue is in the name.
A lot of things can become more poignant looking as your mind starts to set a narrative of what might have happened.
You fear the worst because let's face it we know it's happened and little shoes are sweet when they aren't washed up on beaches; then they become a little heartbreaking.
You hope this one made it
And then you see signs of desperation because you are telling yourself a story. Of course though this old just have belonged to a Greek kid who lost it at the beach. The thing is that doesn't alter the fact people are running for their lives.
Then you get a sense of dread, but you also live in hope.
So after my walk documenting the beach and what I saw I arrived at the camp to find big Nikon the American stripping life jackets like he was peeling tatties. The camp has a wee bag making company , you may be familiar with this from you tube, but it's a great idea, and they are now using it as a means to generate income.
The camp was quiet when I arrived so i decided to do a wee bit of drawing for my sketchbook, after the walk on my chain of thought then seeing all the life jackets this seemed an obvious wee sketch to make.
There are two containers and i wanted to make more than one mural for Solidarity as I have enough equipment with me and it seems like it's better to do as much as I can with the material and to generate projects while I'm here. So i started sketching a dove and as I was doing it a Stevie Wonder song came into my head so I wrote the title out.
I then got all into my house music in my head, cause I started thinking about Joe Smooth and Sterling Void hahaha, and then I thought well wouldn't it be nice to bring some of the musical influence over my own work with my drawings into this, so I wrote out some more song titles to make a loose statement of hope, music always lifts my spirit and i figured it would be an idea to use this as an avenue for another idea, so tomorrow I am going to ask the camp to add song titles and prayers to the wall, so we have our own wall of sound. Or as I have titled it: Solidarity wall of Song & Prayer.
I did this before lunch, got too say I'm starting to really love chick peas, but anyway moving on. After lunch I knew I was going to have time with the interpreter who visits each day and that we were going to get the camp members to work on the big mural, so based on what I've learned from the last few days about organisation (I might start applying to this new found organisational ability in my actual classroom at home, aye right!!) I got my paints ready and specifically mixed for tasks in hand to work into the bones of the mural.
And then once ready I let the interpreter know (she's ace by the way and so is her pal) and they rallied the team together and we got to work, and it was a great feeling to see them working on it, and I think they enjoyed it as well, lots of broken English conversation but today they understood me when I said Scotland, so perhaps I am improving on not mumbling in Scottish and speaking more clearly, it's a sad indictment when your own contribution to an international conversation can only improve by speaking in your own language more clearly, while the others communicate with you in your own language, feel humbled every time.
And so towards the early evening we got to the 3/4s finished stage with the Big mural and i was rather chuffed to see it, the next thing will be to tidy it up a bit, then back onto the Solidarity wall of song and prayer to add more from the camp to make it there's. I have another idea I want try out as well, which could be really cool if it works out.
It's been a busy old time but a very positive experience so far, I am seeing some smiling faces and that is a really nice thing to be a part of, it takes my mind off the shoes.
Glasgow Examined Exhibition at The Veneer Gallery: 6pm 09.10.15
September 29, 2015
Glasgow Examined (West end) Exhibition (music mapped the terrain)