Author: James Dixon

Archaeology and Barbara Hepworth

There are a lot of different ways you could think about sculpture, or even individual sculptors, in ways that are inspired by or which can complement the ways we work and think in archaeology.

One of these is whether archaeology provides an appropriate methodology to understand the working space of an artist. Is that studio at any point in its life or afterlife an archaeological site? Or is is better thought of as a space of performative action, or is it an installation or a museum? Should we approach it to uncover ‘facts’ towards understanding the artist or is it more important to use that space to inspire creativity in those who encounter it?

Last year I was invited by Tate to take part in a 24 hour seminar discussing questions like these and  with a mixed group of curators, artists, geographers, archaeologists and others. Rather than go into great detail, better to let the project’s outcomes speak for themselves.

There is a short film on the project here and Tate’s report on the seminar and our discussions can be found here as well as a general project webpage on Tate’s main site.

Tate have a major Hepworth retrospective coming up in the near-ish future and I’m really looking forward to it, especially after spending those 24 hours talking about her. The possibility of walking in and seeing my face projected on the wall somewhere, not so much.

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Tools of the City and Movements of Work

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On Sunday 1 September, I travelled to Bristol to take part in a discussion event on ‘tools in the city’ as part of the In The City series of events run by The Parlour Showrooms. That particular weekend was dedicated to tools and labour, titled ‘A Lexicon of Labour Movements‘. I went down on the Saturday to see artists Clare Thornton and Paul Hurley’s Performance Shift, a fascinating piece of work developed from interviewing manual workers and ex-manual workers about how they use their tools, whether this is in the ways intended by the tools’ makers or in unintended ways that accomplish different tasks. Explanations by me won’t do it justice so you can look at photos here.

The event I took part in saw Sang-gye of Tibetan Therapies and I talk about the relationship between tools and bodies from our own perspectives. As usual, the attempt to draw on seemingly disparate viewpoints revealed a huge amount of overlap and between the two of us and an audience of about 20, we had a really interesting, open discussion on the intersections between people, things and systems of use that went from Japanese macaques to bicycle couriering, via yoga and trowel-tip archaeological interpretation of the past.

Participant Natalie Parsley wrote a blog post about the event that you can read here and I have a recording of my own contribution which I will post a link to as soon as I find a place to put it.

Coming Soon – People Tend To Sit Where There Are Places To Sit – 27/09/2013

After starting the month speaking at The Parlour Showrooms in Bristol on tools and people in the city, I’ll be ending the month with another public event, this time in Cricklewood in north-west London. This discussion event will be taking place next to a piece of waste ground in Cricklewood as part of a month of events by Spacemakers investigating the lack of public space in the area, based around the idea of a Cricklewood Town Square. More info here.

Cricklewood

The discussion will aim to be quite practical, and focus on how people can get or create public space for real and I’ll be speaking alongside Sarah Goventa from CABE and Finn Williams, a planner from Croydon Council among others to be confirmed. I’ll be using my research in archaeology and public art to look at how public and private spaces come to exist, how they change status and identity, why that makes people angry and how that anger can be used as a creative force.

See you there?

Coming Soon – Working in the City – 01/09/2013

Next weekend, Sunday 1 September, I will be in Bristol to take part in the In The City series of events organised by The Parlour Showrooms. As part of a weekend dedicated to work and tools, I will be speaking in a session called ‘Tea Break Talk: Tools of the City and Movements of Work’ alongside artists Clare Thornton and Paul Hurley and Sang-gye of Tibetan Therapies. More information here: http://inthecityseries.co.uk/programme

Coming soon - Working in the City

My role in the discussion will focus on how and why tools are created and used and how tools, bodies and natural and built landscapes intersect. Full details revealed on the day but I’ll be starting with Japanese macaques washing potatoes and ending on why we don’t wait for the green man before crossing the road.

Tickets available here: http://inthecityseries.co.uk/tickets-august