Lesley Millar Blog 30th October 2012
On Friday 26th October we held the first fully ‘public’ presentation and discussion of the project when we presented the Colloquium Transparent Boundaries at UCA Farnham. On the previous day all partners had met to update each other on progress and then to attend the Opening of the exhibition Blood on Silk in the James Hockey Gallery at UCA Farnham. The updating was extremely interesting as all partners have made progress, and we were also able to welcome Greek partner Iro Pappa for the first time. Updates from the partners will be appearing shortly in their section of the website.
COLLOQUIUM 26TH OCTOBER 2012 – University for the Creative, Farnham
I was very nervous about the Colloquium as I had no indication how much interest there would be in the subject until the invitation was sent out to different organisations. In the event I was delighted, around 50 delegates attended from different sectors and age ranges.
The speakers were excellent, beginning with Mary Schoeser who is a leading authority in the field of textiles and Honorary President of the UK Textile Society. Her interests range from the historic to the contemporary and in her latest book, Textiles: The art of mankind, (Thames & Hudson, November 5, 2012) she has juxtaposed over 1,000 examples – from ancient to cutting-edge – to highlight an unbroken story of skill and invention stretching back thousands of years. Her very knowledgeable presentation focused on the role of Elders in the shaping of contemporary textiles, as well as the role of textiles as analogous mentors, touching along the way on prose, poetry, mapping and dance. In doing so, she drew from research towards this book and preparatory research for an exhibition entitled ‘No Boundaries’ to open at the Fashion & Textile Museum, London, in late 2014.
Fiona Davies then described aspects of her Blood on Silk project which related specifically to the death of her father, the tendency to become invisible within the hospital system, and the placing of the works specifically in spaces connected to her father.
We then went into presentations from each of the Transparent Boundaries project partners. Jeppe Morgensen from Aalborg University described how their project was based in re-connection with the fishing industry in Denmark; demonstrating its importance to the economy and to the history of Denmark. Fishing nets will be the means of making the connection through the knowledge of the Elder, which will be used to fabricate a building on the quayside.
The UK project was next with a three-handed presentation. Firstly the group co-ordinator of the Rowlands Castle group, Dee Brien, described the place: Rowlands Castle, the architecture, the activities, the age groupings and people. She was followed by one of the artists leading the project, Carol Quarini, who described the processes of data collection and transcription into art works and artefacts undertaken during the time working with the Rowlands Castle group. Finally the second lead artist, Gail Baxter, gave a short history of lace practice and how they had applied and adapted it for the Transparent Boundaries project.
For the Italian Partners Daniele Sepe described the activities to be undertaken by AMAT. Number one, Electric Elder, will be led by artist Alessandro Sciarroni at the Persiani Theatre in Recanati in early April 2013. There will also be a photographic project in December 2012 and a dance project, both of which are under development.
Greek partner Iro Pappa presented the Hellenic Regional Development Centre’s proposal, which will take place in January 2013. HRDC will investigate the importance of folk poetry and song as communities move from the country to the cities in Greece. She showed a short, exploratory video of an elderly couple remembering the importance of these songs by singing them, then sharing them with their family and finally dancing together. The important factor was that although short term memory had gone from at least one of the couple, the memory of the songs was undiminished.
These presentations were followed by Tony Docker, Chief Executive of the health charity RHL. He described the work of the organisation and a new initiative: Age No Boundary, which includes a Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme for the Elder. This project will begin in 2013.
The last speaker was the artist and educationalist Bob White who spoke eloquently about ‘Late Style’. In this he maintained that it is the prerogative of Late Style to have the power to render both disenchantment and pleasure without having to resolve the contradictions between them. He cited as example: Titian, The Flaying of Marsyas (painted when the artist was 86); Rembrandt’s last Self Portrait (painted when the artist was 63); Goya, Two Peasants Fighting With Clubs (painted when the artist was 78). He followed this with three contemporary examples: Richard Hamilton’s last work before he died aged 89 – Le Chef-d’oeuvre inconnu – a painting in three parts, 2011 (printed 2012). Epson inkjet on Hewlett-Packard Resolution canvas 112 x 176 cm (each variant); Paula Rego’s The Balzac Story 2011 (artist 77) and David Hockney’s Winter Timber (artist 75).
The day demonstrated the huge amount and variety of material available to be researched and developed and I am looking forward very much to the next meeting which will be in Athens in January 2013.