Public intervention developed as part of ‘Interrogation Walsall’ an artist residency programme at New Art Gallery Walsall.
In approaching this project I sought to engage with Walsall’s industrial heritage by using a strong magnet tied to a length of rope to go fishing for ‘artefacts’ associated with its history as a hub for manufacturing saddles, buckles, stirrups and other metal objects.
Although Walsall’s industrial heritage is evident in some of the architectural fabric of the town, there are few reminders of the millions of objects that were created during this time. I wanted look for objects which signified or hinted at this identity; to make a reconnection between a place and its heritage.
Before I went fishing I predicted that I would only find a few bottle tops and nails in my search. Although this in itself would have been a telling result, I decided instead to develop the intervention as a fictional performance by placing ‘artefacts’ into the water before searching for them with the magnet.
I decided to visit Walsall’s 800 year old market where I bought a selection of cheap antiques and tacky ornaments including leather horse brasses, buckles, tins, coins a compass and two swords/pokers. Talking to the stall holders it became evident that the majority of items were sourced from local house clearances, and as such, were linked to the social history of the area.
Returning to the canal with the 'hoard, I went fishing for the remainder of the day, discussing the project with members of the public while reeling in artefacts tangled in weeds and caked in mud. All finds from the day, including a corroded screwdriver, several coins and two large iron poles were displayed back in the gallery.
Found objects, magnet, rope, plasic pipe,