I first became aware of the Reside Residency over a year ago when Susan Francis was the blogging artist. Since then I have enjoyed following how each new artist has developed their practice over the 6 months. I am particularly impressed that Michaela has continued to snatch moments of time to make work while looking after a new baby.
As Michaela mentioned in her last blog my residency is going to be transitory. I have let me flat out to help fund my time off. The last few days have been a whirl of finishing work, packing, tidying and cleaning. Now my sanctuary for a number of years is someone else's home. I have a couple of days of limbo before I fly to Berlin on Thursday, my case packed with various art materials.
Feeling restless, I decided to visit my great grandparent's grave in Lewisham to ground myself for an afternoon. I know very little about this side of my family because my grandfather died when my Dad was a teenager and for whatever reason he wasn't told stories about his father. The reason they intrigue me is what they did, which I have gleaned from researching past censuses, and the obvious links to my practice. Originally living in Eccles in the 19th Century, my great grandfather is described as being a 'clerk in silk maner', possibly a mis-transcription. Later at the start of the 20th Century in Forest Hill, he is a salesman in silk goods, while my grandfather is fabulously described as 'salesman fancy trade'. I wonder to what extent my interest in revealing the simplicity of fabric in my work is influenced by them, particularly as I know so little about their actual lives. I plan to read more about what their life might have been like, working in the cloth trade in Manchester.
The graveyard that they are buried in - Brockley and Ladywell Cemetery - is romantically ramshackle with nature being left to take over in many places. I had visited once before, in May last year, and found the grave quite easily. This time, map in hand, I walked right past it. After retracing my steps I found the spot where it should have been, and set about pulling brambles and tendrils to one side to reveal the grave again. For some reason it was and is important to me that it is not totally lost. I have made plans with my Dad, who was visiting for the grave for the first time, that we will return in winter to clear it a little more. As I prepare to travel to Germany, where my Mum comes from, I do slightly regret that I won't be able to return to the cemetery in autumn when the brambles will be full of blackberries which I would like to use to create purple dye.