Wednesday, 23 October 2013

PARK TRACES RESIDENCY Round Up - HAZEL FRANCE

In September 2013, AirSpace gallery commissioned Hazel France as artist-in-residence for its Park Traces project. Following on from the Summer's Site Responsive Residency, we wanted to task an artist with continuing the documentation of the park, but in particular for an artist to use drawing to capture the park as it is today, and to develop a responsive artwork, which proposes the park's future.

Hazel response to the call, stated - 
As a method of exploring the park and becoming familiar with it’s landscape and functions I propose to use running as a research tool. I’m interested in repetition as an important element in learning and running through the park daily would be a repetitive exercise, thus my knowledge would be increased. This also relates to the primary functions of the park at the Academy in Athens. Running is a very ordinary use of a park, through which I can explore the extraordinary.

We invited Hazel to keep a blog of her findings, and here are the results.

ONE - Park Traces Residency: Hazel France

This is my first time in Stoke-on-Trent, and my Park Traces Residency is well under way.

To date, my practice has been predominantly concerned with cinema, the projected image and slideshows. I was recently invited to give a talk about my work and preparing for this was an opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate my practice. I'm interested in how we process information and the role that repetition plays in this.

As a method of exploring and becoming familiar with Hanley Park's landscape and functions I am running every day. I’m interested in repetition as an important element in learning and running through the park daily will be a repetitive exercise, and therefore my knowledge of the park will be increased. I also like that running is a really normal way of using a park.

Me after one such run. So vibrant. à
















Hanley Park was designed to be the 'lungs' or 'breathing space' of the city, a welcome dose of greenery and fresh air in industrial Stoke-on-Trent with the noise and pollution of the potteries. Therefore, I have decided to focus on the plant-life in the park.

After my first few days in Hanley park, walking, running, sitting, drawing, taking photographs etc. I'm interested in the design of the park's planting. The park was designed by Thomas Mawson and opened in 1897. Having spent some time in the City Archives, I have been reading about how the trees were planted to hide the industrial surroundings from people in the park and there are so many trees as they had to be planted in clumps to protect each other from the heavily polluted air. In the past, planting had to consider the damage from pollution and today vandalism is a major consideration.

In other news, on Wednesday I saved this worm that had found itself in the middle of an astroturf pitch in the park and was making a confused yet valiant effort at burying its head in the ground. I put him on the real grass. Good deed done.














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TWO - THE PORTLAND VASES



à  Link à

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THREE - SHRUBBAGE





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FOUR - (untitled post)



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FIVE - The Hanley Park Horticultural Fete of 1897

The other day and excellent morning was spent at the City Archives in Stoke-on-Trent Central library doing some research on the history of the Hanley Park. The archive system itself is fascinating. The database from which you search for your required information is a chest of long thin alphabetised wooden drawers, each full of cards of paper that you flick through to find the reference of the book/cutting/microfilm/map/pamphlet that you want. You fill out a paper slip with the relevant details, and then give it to staff member who then brings you the corresponding article.

One of the articles I wanted to look at was from the Staffordshire Advertiser about a two day Horticultural Fete in Hanley park in 1897. The article was on a microfilm to be viewed on this reader...






















The Hanley Park Horticultural Fete in July, 1897 sounds like a dreamland. Four large tents housed flower and vegetables displays and competitions including: orchids, hydrangeas, begonias, caladiums, ferns, lillies, roses, geraniums, bamboos, carnations, palms, cacti, gloxinias, table decoration displays and cut flowers including sweet peas, stocks, sweetwilliams, gallardias, strawberries, cherries, nectarines, melons, delphiniums, bees, honey, grapes, greenhouse plants, caladiums, fuchsias, pansies, gloxinias, carrots, potatoes, french beans, cucumbers, peas, cauliflowers, spring onions, onions, tomatoes, hanging baskets, bouquets and button holes.

There were luncheons, children's competitions (for which so many prizes had been donated that almost everyone received a prize), practical lectures on bee keeping, pottery demonstrations, pipers, the Hanley Town Band, dancing on the tennis lawn, carousels, acrobats and high wire performers who rode a bicycle along a wire 50ft off the ground. A Mrs Maude Brooks went up in a hot air balloon and parachuted down a few miles away.

"In the evening the grounds were illuminated with many thousand coloured lights and lanterns, and the effect was very pretty, particularly in the lower part of the neighbourhood of the lake. When it was dark, Messrs. Pain and Sons of Liverpool and London commenced a grand display of fireworks, which lasted for nearly tow hours."

20,000 people were in the park on the first day, and almost as many on the second.

Imagine this happening today? It's easy go get lost in reading about magical days such as this in the park, but I don't want to lose sight of what's actually going on today. Looking at the past and days such as this, however, can provide great inspiration for things that could happen in the future.

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SIX - Slide Scanner Test





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SEVEN - Hanley Park on Google Maps



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EIGHT - Thomas Mawson

The most useful book I found in the library was written by Hanley Park's landscape designer, Thomas H. Mawson. The book, simply titled Hanley Park, was written before the park was built and gives details of the proposed design of the park. He writes so beautifully. See excerpts below:

The Public Park: It's use & beauty
"It may, however, be asked, "If planning or an arrangement of recreation grounds does not constitute a park what does? On this point there is something fascinating in the expressions of the late J.D. Sedding. He says of a garden - which is equally true of a park - " It is a man's report of earth at her best. It is earth emancipated from the commonplace... It is man's love of loveliness carried to excess. Man's craving for the ideal grown to a fine lunacy." Again he says, " So we arrive at these conclusions - a garden is made to express man's delight in beauty, and to gratify his instincts for idealisation."... Sedding's expressions may be rather too poetic, they nevertheless show that he had a very high conception of the possibilities of garden imagery."

Lawns and Plantations
"However much failure there may be in the Plantations owing to the smoke and fumes, there is no question at to the possibility of obtaining a refreshing green sward, and that is something to be thankful for."

"Respecting the Plantations I wish to repeat, that single specimen trees are out of the question altogether. It is only by planting in large masses of those things which have been proved to succeed in the neighbourhood, that anything like effect can be obtained."




















"A straight row of trees or an avenue may give an effect the reverse to monotonous, and a mass of foliage may also be arranged so as to give the most pleasing variety; but it should be borne in mind that the very same ground outline may, through injudicious arrangement, give and impression analoglous to that produced by a piece of vulgar sculpture."





















To be continued...


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NINE - FOUNTAIN



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TEN - CLUMP



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ELEVEN - PLANTS

Thomas Mawson's list of plants that were thought able to survive life in Hanley Park

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TWELVE - Roberto Burle Marx


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THIRTEEN - Spode China Hall

Spode, the Stoke-on-Trent based pottery company founded in 1770 closed it's factory in 2008. Since then, the building has been pretty much empty, apart from being home to the British Ceramics Biennial for a few months every two years. This years Bienniel opens on the 28th of this month. I was lucky enough to get to have a nose around the China Hall as preparations were under way.






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FOURTEEN - China Carnation


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FIFTEEN - Július Koller


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SIXTEEN - The Wood Between the Worlds


Link   here 

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SEVENTEEN - Hanley Park on Google Maps


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EIGHTEEN - CHLOROPHYLL


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NINETEEN - Berlin, 2011


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TWENTY - Friends of Hanley Park

Yesterday morning I went for a run at 9am, and the weekly Parkrun was well under way... so I was accidentally almost joining in... but going the wrong way round. There were a good number of people taking park in the run, of all ages. Having a look online, it turns out I witnessed their 101st run. See the Parkrun website and course here. The route they run each week is a 5k, so I'll give that a go and report back.

At 10:30am I went to a meeting of the Friends of Hanley Park where people from the local area and the Park Liason officer discussed all matters on the park. This included maintenance projects, the Heritage Lottery Fund application, police reports, events and funding. Interviews have been taking place to find a suitable park restoration firm and hopes and aspirations of users of the park are bing compiled, which will all feed into the Heritage Lottery Fund application. A tree survey has been completed, looking at the condition of the trees, which trees obstruct the original design, the relevance of new planting etc. It's interesting the need for striking a balance between the original design of the park and it's contemporary functions. Also, not being too sentimental about old trees that might be in poor condition, even diseased and therefore detrimental to the park in the long run. There was discussion of opening up the canal area, which is currently densely planted and quite separate from the rest of the park, despite the fact it runs right through the middle. In Thomas Mawson's original designs he wanted to hide the canal as much as possible as he thought it ugly and much too industrial as it would have been a very busy stretch carrying clay and coal though the city. Now the function of the canal has changed and it's primary function is recreational.

In short, it was a fascinating meeting and there are many exciting things ahead I'd highly recommend becoming a friend of Hanley Park!

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TWENTY ONE - Shrubbery





















































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TWENTY TWO - Other Blogs


See also:






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TWENTY THREE - Man's craving for the ideal grown to a fine lunacy

Man's craving for the ideal grown to a fine lunacy


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TWENTY FOUR - Silvery Grey

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Yesterday was a particularly silvery grey day on which I made a silvery grey t-shirt in Hanley Park, Stoke-on-Trent.
The t-shirt has been made to wear whilst running in Hanley Park, Stoke-on-Trent.
It was made between 12noon and 5:55pm on Monday September 23rd in Hanley Park, Stoke-on-Trent. 

1. Fabric purchased in Hanley town centre, along with needle, thread, pins and scissors.
2. Paper picked up from Airspace Gallery.
3. Went to the park and chose a nice quiet spot up at the top of the football pitches.
4. Drew round an old t-shirt I often run in.
5. Cut out template for back section, pinned and cut fabric.
6. Altered template to make a front section, pinned and cut fabric.
7. Hemmed sleeves, neck and along the bottom of each half.
8. Sewed the two halves together.

 It was a very quiet afternoon.
 There were lots of couples walking in the park, particularly at 4:15.

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TWENTY FIVE - Plant Shaking



From collaborative work with the Information Delivery Service, 2012.

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TWENTY SIX - UNTITLED








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TWENTY SEVEN - Scan




























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TWENTY EIGHT - Hebe


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TWENTY NINE - St John's Wort


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THIRTY - China flowers at Spode




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THIRTY ONE - Peg Board




















Peg boards ready to go to for the Guerrilla Ceramics Trail on Saturday in Stoke-on-Trent...

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THIRTY TWO - UNTITLED




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THIRTY THREE - Pyschogeographic Explorations

Second year fine art students took part in a reading and practice session today, where we first looked at a reading from Merlin Coverley's 'Psychogeography' the section called Walking the City with De Certeau. We discussed the ideas within the reading around governance and the human experience of such. And the idea that Walking might be an act of rebellion or subversion.Then each student was given a gps point to go to, and then take one hour to walk from that point to the Hanley Park bandstand, paying attention to everything, both significant and insignificant, and taking a record of the journey.
This is Jess Thornton's response: whenever Jess' route was interrupted she took a panoramic photograph.
And then Below is Ali Steventon's observation: the area around the park has a lot of litter, and a big problem with fly tipping.


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THIRTY FOUR - UNTITLED





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THIRTY FIVE - SCAN


























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THIRTY SIX - Guerrilla Ceramics Trail: Sat 12th October‏








































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THIRTY SEVEN - Hanley parkrun #104 - 12/10/2013



Distance: 5k
Position: 77
Parkrunner: Hazel FRANCE
Time: 31:10
Age Cat: 20-24
Age Grade: 47.49%
Gender: F
Gender Pos: 24
Club: none Note:
First Timer Total Runs: 1

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THIRTY EIGHT - Parkrun

T-shirt made in Hanley Park to be worn to run in Hanley Park. Worn on Parkrun #104, October 12th 2013.

































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THIRTY NINE - CLUMP


























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FORTY - Buttonholes

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