Jenny Pope, Land Mark Residency 2019-20

Material Land

Land Mark Residency 2019-20

‘Material Land’ was part of Land Mark project 2019-20, a Creative Scotland funded residency with Art Walk Porty.

I focussed on the pottery kilns near the beach at Figgate Burn. I was initially interested in a number of areas; the working conditions in the kilns and local industries as well as the elemental process of firing itself. I researched the experience of kiln workers, I studied ceramics at Edinburgh College of Art and remember a visit to the potteries in Stoke on Trent and the intense heat and cramped conditions of the bottle kiln workers and the shear physicality of their job, packing and unpacking continuously fired kilns. I was fascinated by a report about the production of Prussian Blue pigment in the area around 1800 and a court case challenging the ‘noxious’ processes that went on. I related this to current concerns for a clean environmental, in particular marine, as we are so close to the sea. This initially was envisaged as an installation within the kiln, but due to ongoing restoration works of nearby kiln it was decided to have a beach installation in 2019. I created Wind forms, using the colours Prussian blue, red, yellow and white, relating the industrial pigments to marine danger flags. This message linked contemporary marine pollution dangers with historical processes. I also brought some of the elements of firing alive again; fire, air draughts, clay, and we had a lovely event on the beach to celebrate the working kilns, playing with sea-worn bricks and eating foraged food, prepared by Judith Lamb (Edinburgh Forage and Eat).

2020 sees the continuation of my sculptural work, although further issues with kiln access, now Covid-19 and public health related, mean another beach installation resolution and assimilating recent concerns around breathing, safety, and home made responses to face coverings with research on the internal working conditions within the kilns which were hot, fume ladden and claustrophobic spaces.

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