10 days is an interdisciplinary contemporary arts biennial that takes place in and around Winchester. It began in 2009 and this year artists were asked to explore the theme of ‘chalk’. Events, performances and exhibitions have happened and are still happening at a variety of different venues from the City Museum to St Catherine’s Hill up until 7 November 2015.
The Winchester Gallery exhibited work from local artists including a number of pieces by Winchester School of Art staff, students and alumni. It also hosted WSA student Samantha Harrison’s performance piece, ‘Tick Tock’ which two members of Library staff, Judy Russell and I, took part in. I had never taken part in an art performance piece before and wasn’t sure what to expect. Alongside 9 other performers we stepped forward and began to make our chalk ticks on the blackboard in front of us. The two people either side of me were much taller and there was a feeling of trying to hold my ground so I hardly moved. By the end there was so much chalk dust that I felt I was surrounded by softly falling snow. After 10 minutes we put our chalk down and walked away. It was interesting to look back and see the different approaches to the simple brief of making a tick. Judy reflects:
“On Saturday afternoon I turned up at the Winchester Gallery along with the other participants. Samantha gave us a piece of chalk in which to produce ticks on the wall of the gallery, all in a time limit of ten minutes. This I was told was going to be repeated twice more on the two following Saturdays, but with different participants. So, what was ‘Tick Tock’ all about for me? I sensed there was a theme here, automation/time, and for me that meant absorbing myself in the task. The repetitive action seemed to make everyone switch off from what was around them. I didn’t at first, because of a certain embarrassment perhaps, but once I got into the task, I found myself becoming utterly
absorbed in the moment. The minutes literally just ticked away! You could say we had all become machine-like in our application of the task and perhaps that was the point: as humans we can become automatons without knowing it, but also consciously sometimes, and we take the good and the bad from that experience. The point Samantha was trying to make by this performance had far more depth than that of my own experience, but still it had a value for me personally and I very much enjoyed taking part”
Both Judy and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would urge anyone to take up these creative opportunities where they can.
Many of the artists taking part in Chalk are represented in the Library’s collections including Andrew Carnie, Stephen Cooper, Ian Dawson, Louisa Minkin, Eileen White, Trish Bould, Noriko Suzuki-Bosco, Peter Driver and Tracey Bush. Our Artists’ Book Collection has a strong collection of books by Tracey Bush whose work is currently on show In the City Museum. I took the opportunity to talk to her about her practice. In response to the theme of chalk Tracey first chose to walk the chalky downland of St Catherine’s Hill and collect and press representative flowers. She then traces and cuts out the flowers ready to cover in appropriate brand packaging. Nothing is bought specially but rather found and reused. This often involves the painstaking process of peeling off layers of packaging to laminate and reuse to produce her intricate flowers. For the particular piece that Tracey is exhibiting at the City Museum, Chalk Hill, she has reused an original Victorian dome to display her work in. This leads the viewer to do a double take on the stairs!
To view other work on this theme by Tracey Bush or to look at the work of any of the other artists represented in the Library’s collections please check Webcat.
To look at work in the Artists’ Book Collection please make an appointment via firstname.lastname@example.org
To check out what events are happening this week please go to CHALK
Catherine Polley and Judy Russell