The Loss

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‘Silhouette; burnt orange’ by Charlotte Hodes

Photo: Joel Chester Fildes

The Loss is a short fiction works written by Alison Little. It was produced in responce to ‘Silhouette: burnt orange’ by Charlotte Hodes which was exhibited as part of The Errant Muse exhibition held at the VG&M in Liverpool.

The Loss

Sunlight brandishes down on the desolate beach location, she lies stretched out on her front, body twisted towards the horizon of the sea. Hand raised above her eyes, blocking the sunlight attempting to obscure her vision.

Eyes scanning the spectrum for him, she has lost sight into the expanse of the ocean. Only out of sight she assumes, hidden between waves lashing against the rocks of the coastline. Her rear is arched slightly, enhanced by the slender fit summer dress. Knees encased by the warmth of the dry sands. Earlier, her feet had kicked up joyfully towards her rear, playfulness re-connected in adulthood, now tensed. Below her, the sands burn a deeper orange.

A hand crochet blanket, hours of pain, distraction-seeking hooked yarn, covers the sands she rests on. It was the only thing for her to do, removing her mind from the loss. There was no point in making any more baby clothes, she didn’t know what to do with the collection she had already made, laid out in the draw she had lined. They would decide in unison after the negotiated break.

Vision streaming further into the ocean, she could still not see him. They had waited four weeks since the miscarriage to get away, both needed to arrange time off work. Making the blanket had kept her mind occupied, kept the tears from flowing full force. They had come to Swanage in Dorset, easy to book a B+B at limited notice. The main town beach had been packed full of babies and children, grown into what their foetus would have once become. He had taken the initiative to suggest walking to a more remote beach around the coast. He was trying to be strong for her but he was grieving the loss in tandem.

Further, into the ocean, a longboat jammed full of tourists heads towards deeper waters. All the trips they would never take their unborn child on, the picnics they would never consummate, the family games they would never play. Into the abyss, the no-more, her hand fell onto her reduced stomach. A light tear joins her face, panic sets in, she couldn’t see him. What if she had lost him also, drawn out to the infinite seascape. As she is about to stand several petals drop down onto her smudged checks. Looking up, he is scattering wildflower petals over her, their eyes connect and they smile in unison. He joins her as they wrap into each other, minds and bodies link, they know everything will be okay again.

The Errant Muse

Charlotte Hodes has two further exhibitions later in the year:

Remember Me, Charlotte Hodes Papercuts & Ceramics Solo exhibition, National Centre for Craft & Design, 11 Jan – 22 March 2020

Most Admirably Improved by Art, Hestercombe, Somerset, 29 February – 28 June 2020

Block Works

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Block Works is the latest concept based practice from Alison Little: comprising of a series of sculptural forms which represent areas of urban residence. An ethnology process where collections of discarded objects are cemented together in block form. The artefacts are selected and encased in the common urban material offering an explanation of those who occupy the city space, their lifestyles and methods human existence.

Everton Block Works engages our attention with the towering form of the engine suspension system, reflecting the second-hand car culture commonplace within the area. Several narcotics smoking devices emerge from the upper surface, indicating drug use within the external environment. Homelessness or the misguided pursuits accountable as youth culture. Contrasted by the healthy activities of dog walking, shown by a lead and enhanced by an exercise equipment suspension spring. An adjacent feather shows the ever present urban pigeon, commonplace within cities globally. The top surface encases a heavy industrial ring, accompanied by screw findings, rope matter throughout the form. Manual work being common with local inhabitants. Child’s playthings are present, but items from £1 stores from lower-income families. The edges of the block are lined by food consumer packaging waste: crisp packets, fizzy and alcoholic drinks cans. A suburb where the unhealthy diet is prominent and drink alcohol a persistent activity. The greens and greys of the blocks finish reflect the mix of residential and urban green space which dominates the Everton area.

The top section of Anfield Block Works is entangled by the dynamics of a discarded cable. Other electric wastes reflect a culture where the inhabitants are happy to discard debris freely. An array of drinks top illustrates further examples of poor diet, however, an exercise water bottle top suggests healthy activities. This is joined by a dog toy and tennis ball, positive pursuits within a leisure space. Again, a pigeon feather evidence of urban wildlife. Examples of gambling additions within the district can be drawn from the miniature blue pen of the bookies. Wire wool, cable systems and sponge matter indicating manual tasks occurring within the outdoor spectrum. The Liverpool football stadium ‘Anfield’ being a central hub of the district. The inflatables from matchdays, the drinks straws from spectators present in the block formed in the shadows of the Kop. The final colour showing a degraded range of greens and blacks, an urban green space heavily polluted by the traffic of the stadium.

The Block Works Collection with expand across the city and further afield. More collections with be collated, encased and presented as representations of the city and occupants.

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The Green

the Green

The Green is an extract from the novel: Casual Nexus, written by Alison Little, she is looking to publish the novel later in 2020.

Stood aback from the green space, intersected by cars negotiating the rather complex one-way system, a moderately plump woman stands, examining an item of jewellery. She has just left the small countered repair shop which has presided on the green for over three generations. Excitedly, she opens the locket and looks adoringly at the miniature photograph inside:

‘I’ve got you back, mother!’

Caitlin McBride mouths internally to herself. Examining the clasp, a fitting repair job, her hand run over the shinning silver gleaming after the buffer wheel treatment. She slips the primal keepsake she has of her mother carefully into the upper zip pocket of her jacket. As she secures the zip her eyes scan over the green, her mind re-encounters the fair she went to as a teenager. Churning of the stomach as she remembers the lad she had met and their liaison in the undergrowth. Vomit rises into her throat as she recalls taking him in her mouth. Giggling at the time, now remorseful, it was simply another tangled interlude she had engaged in as she was too confused to determine her desired course of action.

Eyes rotate around the central space attention focusing on the swing park. A father playing with his children. Reminiscing over the few times her father has taken them to any form of a playground, but he had always been so busy with his work and the band. Her expanding gaze then halts, she looks at the Father in greater detail, her vision fixated, anguish overcomes her thoughts:

‘J-A-C-K’

She vocalises statically, the volume reduced but out loud. The man, then boy, who had determined the turmoil of negativity through her teenage years and transcended into adulthood. Jack who she had hidden from fearful of his advances. Jack whose manipulation had overcome her in the end. Jack who had a happy family, children, a wife and a house. Jack who had stolen her childhood, Jack who had taken so much from her and what her future would have been. Jack who her brother had never stopped, Jack who had never paid for what he had done to her during her teenage years.

She wipes the tears straining through her face as she makes haste towards the far side bus stop. As she moves further from Jack and the falsehood of the family man, the more composed she becomes.

Natures Tables

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Natures Tables

 

Stand dipped inward

Mushroom high drinking tables

Scattered natures gift

Natures tables is a Haiku from Alison Little, written as a response to escalating numbers of wild mushroom present in Booker Hill Woods late 2019.

Haiku poems originated in Japan, they are made up of three sentences. The first sentence contains five syllables, seven syllables for the central line and five again for the final statement. The poems are usually theme around nature or emotions.

More about Haiku

More about Booker Hill Woods

5 ways to Shop this Christmas

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Last week the all-new Childwall Emporium threw open its doors for the first time.

The Childwall Emporium is the brainchild of woodworker Peter Bennett. The shop is positioned on the busy 5 ways roundabout on Queens Drive. The ground floor houses a variety of craft and printed goods, all reasonably priced. Above this, we have a selection of artist studios and on the top level a skylight venue for art workshops, many of which will be running throughout 2020. Peter had always wanted a shop, this became available, he jumped at the chance. The time really was now and Liverpool has a new retailer selling goods from the cities finest artists and makers.

Peter originally studied a BA(Hons) in 3D design at John Moores University, graduating among the glory of the Capital of Culture year. He has ranges of everything from household goods to hand made jewelry, solid wood pens to surf shack style key fobs. Some of his more specialist works include techniques of embedding leather in solid block wood forms. The leather is re-purposed, reducing waste and he and the majority of the artists are locally based. We have a new business with valid ‘Green Credentials’ taking to the streets of Childwall.

Ink Smudge has a range of journals on sale at the Emporium. The highlight being the miniatures every bit a small as the ones written in by Charlotte Bronte, purchased by the Bronte Parsonage Museum last month. Could this gift provide column space for England’s next great twenty-first-century novelist? Smaller than a matchbox they are intended to hang on the beloved Christmas tree, our Christmas wishes inscribed into the tiny journal. The subsequent year it can be read through to indulge in the desires which literally became true. The woman behind the ‘Burrower’ sized journal confesses to being a stationery addict, her other goods also hand made indulgences intended for thoughts to adorn their pages.

Some much-needed music is added to the Childwall store with the cigar box guitars. The maker behind these instrumental muses, Dave Worthington, brought the guitar boxes back from Taiwan. Intending to become the Switzerland of the Asian continent, Taiwan direction towards environmental sustainability has strengthened over the last decade. It seems very fitting that the maker decided to re-invent these sizable tins into the finest electronic string instruments. The tin casings contain the electronic components and a well-positioned socket to plug in an amp. Cigar box ‘come’ electric guitar genius beaming from the gallery wall.

Much more can be found at Liverpool’s latest hand-made shopping experience. Prints from Alison Little, bags from Le Meme Etoffe and favorite textiles collections from Sandra Hepworth. Look out for courses starting next year: candle-making, furniture painting, the small art of kids craft, followed by woodworking skills from Peter himself. Open till 9 pm on Thursday the 19th of December, don’t miss the last late night shopping before the big day!

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More about Childwall Emporium

Arched: the Mural

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Arched: the Mural was a design submitted for Leeds Kirkgate Market, proposed by Alison Little.

The Mural draws inspiration from the cast iron Victorian arches which adorn the interior of Kirkgate Market.

The central notion of a triangular structure frame is core to the composition. This is to be painted in gold acrylics to echo the lettering used for the entrance from New York Street. The gold tones to complement the lacquered woods used within the traditional interior.

Each section of the triangular arch to be hand-painted, again using acrylics, to represent goods retailing within the nineteenth-century shopper’s paradise.

The mass of strawberries symbolise the fresh produce in terms of food and drink on sale throughout the market. The strawberries of fruit bowls, the flavours of smoothies and the toppings of cakes. Delight within the mural.

The next section presents a mass of yellow buttons, the earth tones working in tandem with the golds of the outer structure. The buttons represent the haberdasheries stalls which are a staple of markets throughout the country. New demands for these stalls being met by the modern trends of ‘Make do and mend’ as opposed to the mass consumer cultures of fast fashion retail and its environmental impact.

A clothing rail, close up in vision, is depicted in the next three-sided space. The concept of the rail being inverted upwards implying movement, the idea of flipping through rails at pace. Again some golden tones intruded to the fabrics, complimenting the colour pallet, suggestions of vintage items to highlight the individual flavours of the modern market place.

Adjacent to this the jewellery sellers defy their small dimensions by making a glimmering appearance. Gold chains hung at a ninety-degree angle to the clothing counterpart. Chain mail which will bring some shine to the design.

Lowering the tone slightly we have some brass clattering its way in. Hardware sellers are presented through the screws, nuts and bolts in addition to the never forgotten washers.

We finish off with the fresh flowers, introducing more colours, delicacy and transparencies to the brushwork of the acrylics.

All these combine to make the completed arch, this is then replicated many times to create the mural. Potentially, the design of each arch could differ to represent goods from each stall-holder on consultation. The geometric forms can spread across the entranceway, interior, exterior or both. Materials to include the use of artists acrylics and yacht varnish to ensure a lasting finish.

A dynamic mural, one which can expand or compact and adapt to its location: Kirkgate Market.

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More about Leeds Kirkgate Market

Williamson’s Tunnels on…..

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Last month a part of Heritage Week, Friends of Williamson Tunnels took us deep down into the hollows of Edge Hill to view the latest of their excavation work and forever new findings.

The Williamson’s Tunnels were created over four decades starting from the early 1800s. Joseph Williamson, the man behind the labyrinth of passageways was believed to have started life in nearby Warrington, probably around 1769. Presumably, being of little means, he was sent to Liverpool to find work at the grand age of eleven. He gained employment with the wealthy tobacco merchant Richard Tate. Over time he rose through the ranks and eventually married the merchant’s daughter, Elizabeth. Eventually, he acquired the company from Richard Tate Junior after the death of his Father. In the early 1800s, Joseph and Elizabeth move the then suburbs of Manson Street and the tunnelling began. There are numerous theories behind the purpose of these tunnels, the most likely being for the excavation of sandstone which is used extensively in building constructed of the period.

On this fine Heritage week exploration, we were taken down into the latest of the excavations on Paddington. The once site of former Paddington Gardens tenements was demolished to make way for student Halls not long after the turn of the Millennium. The tunnels look to have been under a commercial building, the entrance possible a though way from a bakery.

. a philanthropist by default…


Williamson was a philanthropist by default, through the construction work he provided much-needed jobs for local people and ensured they became highly skilled. It is thought that many of those who burrowed the network went onto work for the railways, the first line being laid between Edge Lane and Manchester in 1829.

The tour started at the Friends of Williamson’s Tunnels main HQ in Mason Street. We took a quick look at the remains of the Manor house where the Williamson’ resided before heading down the road to Paddington. After carefully making our way down the damp gangway we embraced the stalactites ever so familiar with tunnel structures. Harsh lights illuminated former access passages as we headed to the main chambers.

..a delightful collection of pots to p*ss in…

Used as a Victorian dumping ground for many years the chambers host an array of artefacts from bygone era’s. Bottomless glass drinking vessels, bodiless dolls heads, various tea taking vessels and a delightful collection of pots to p*ss in.

As we head down and deeper into Edge Hill the magnitude of the tunnel network was hard not to be overwhelmed by in its full glory. Ever-present drippings of water, which are drained daily, join us as we look around in awe.

A magnificent tour and a big shout out to the Friends of Williams Tunnels!

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More about Friend of Williamson’s Tunnels

More about Heritage Open Days