“My recent MA began a new body of work, exploring the idea of urban archaeology – traces and remains, the intentional and accidental layering of materials creating a physical memory of the city. I was inspired by Antony Gormley’s view that for those interested in traces, clay is the ideal material to offer a bridge between life and a record of life. There was great significance also in the words of Italo Calvino in Invisible Cities: “The city… does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand..” The containment of memory in the fabric of a place has become a major theme in my work, and I aim to contribute my own narrative through clay form and surface.
I am drawing specifically on my memories of a particular time and place, a place where I lived which has since been demolished. The Hulme Crescents were built in 1969; part of the solution to Manchester’s housing shortages following mass clearance of the back to back terraced housing. I lived in the Crescents for a year and on the edge of them in Hulme for another seventeen, eventually witnessing the demolition in 1992. Using my own photographs of the estate in various stages of disappearance, I am attempting to respond to this record and my memories through clay.
The process is heavily materials-led. The mimetic qualities of clay inspire a range of surfaces and forms that conjure the urban environment. My paper clay contains the shredded archive of the estate – the architects’ plans, council minutes, tenants’ leaflets and petitions, press reports. Printing onto clay allows the direct transfer of some of my images. Reduction firing too has symbolic significance: Hulme has twice been razed to the ground, and I want the flames of the kiln to engulf and change the work, for the clay to be tested, scorched, minerals to surface and vitrify, colours to intensify, forms to shift.
The AA2A placement at Bradford has provided me with valuable time and space to continue developing this work. I have been able to explore work on a larger scale, with some different hand building techniques.
Access to workshop facilities and equipment can be hard to find once you stop being a student, and this scheme provides the opportunity to work within a well-resourced and supportive environment once again. Most important of all – and what you miss most once you are out there on your own – is feedback and encouragement to reflect critically on your own work. Whether this has been informally ‘in passing’ or in discussion following a presentation, this has been the most important aspect for me, and has helped me make some decisions about my way forward. I am grateful to the staff and students at the Bradford School of Arts & Media and Yorkshire Craft Centre for making me feel so welcome. I want to give a very big thank you to all who made this placement possible.”
Brigiite displayed the work she completed on her AA2A residency in the Summer Show - you can see a selection of images here.