The work we do. I’ve been thinking of that today as I wove strips of photocopied posters advertising the silk industry which dominated the Cévennes up until fifty or so years ago. Sometimes in la filature where I work during my residency, I can catch the echo of the women at their silk uncoiling machines. They are silent of course because there were strict rules and regulations for this work, no talking being one of them. Regulated toilet breaks, lunch breaks, long hours. It must have felt like a prison.
Into this weaving I added some soundlines of people talking outside the studio which I recorded the other day. The children’s voices were full of zest and curiosity, the adults more sonorous and steady. I wove these everyday conversational sounds into the page about la filature and allowed the women’s ghosts to finally talk. I also had a poster from the union movement which I cut into strips and wove through this page as well.
This is an area quite strong in its support for the workers unions and has a history of aiding refugees and protesters. It harboured many persecuted protestants who became the backbone of the silkworm industry. The workers’ solidarity newspaper is freely available to take from the council office so I helped myself.
As I construct these pages for my “field notes” project, I think of the work of taking notes out in the field, rough sketches of what is seen and heard, impressions of a landscape, soundscape, urban setting. These are often jotted down in a hurry, to catch a fleeting impression or moment, the sound of a storm or a child’s laughter, the sound of people walking on cobblestones through the midday streets.
I try to capture these moments in my work. Two weeks does not give much time to create a perfectly crafted piece, so I am learning to work in a very restricted time frame, tearing and ripping, throwing ink down in a hurry, getting impressions down on paper to weave a landscape of field notes.
Today also I particularly enjoyed making the reverse of the silk industry page, it being the first page, and the last page being the football frenzy and fireworks in the town, everyone talking about the FIFA world cup with France winning against Croatia. I wove in the posters advertising the big match on the big town screen, the sound of cheering and hooting as France won, the sounds of firecrackers in the night sky on la fête nationale.
These are the bookend pages to my accordion book. The pages will be moveable to allow Pedro, the choreographer from Portugal to move and weave his own story through them. It will be a dance to remember, an ephemeral response to this town, this time, these people.
This project was assisted by a grant from Create NSW, an agency of the New South WalesGovernment. The NSW Artists' Grant is administered by the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).