Making it big(ger)

Malka image 1Making larger work is a long-term aim of mine. I tend to work fairly small (50cm square is ‘big’), partly because my processes are very slow-speed and partly because the practical constraints on hand-stitching and applying buttons over a larger piece make it tricky.

So I have set myself a challenge. A new art space has been created, at the extraordinary North Sea Observatory at Chapel Point, Chapel St. Leonards on the Lincolnshire coast. I am hiring this space for a week at the end of October, where I will make a larger piece of work, approximately 1m square. I will suspend the work from a frame and I’m looking forward to seeing whether this method of being able to work on two sides at once will make a difference.

The Observatory is intended to work like a bird hide. Situated right on the beach with clear views across the sand and the sea, people will be able to watch migrating birds year round, whilst hugging a cup of coffee (or a good lunch) from the Seascape Cafe. This function of the Observatory has inspired me to think about other types of migration, which of course is a highly political topic.

Through the Greater Lincolnshire Area of Sanctuary (GLAoS), which offers respite breaks to refugees, I have come to know Malka al-Haddad. An Iraqi asylum seeker, Malka is an intelligent and thoughtful woman who is seeking leave to remain in the UK as she believes her life is under threat in her home country. As an asylum seeker, Malka is not allowed to work but, amongst many activities, she has been writing poems about her experiences over the past few years. These poems have been turned into a book ‘Birds without Sky,’ which is a fundraiser for the GLAoS project.

I am using screen-printed images of Malka and English and Arabic versions of her poem Homeland (which contains the reference to birds without sky) to make this large piece at the North Sea Observatory. As an ‘artist in residence’ my hope is that people will come to see what I am doing and some interesting (possibly uncomfortable) conversations will ensue. However, my main challenge is a simple one. Can I complete this piece in just a week!

I would love to see you there. I will be ‘in residence’ between Monday 22 – Sunday 28 October, 9am – 4pm each day. 

Update: Work in progress pics.


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