Brownfield - or Buddleia Vale?2014
Stoke on Trent, Airspace Gallery
Buddleia Vale seems quite bucolic today, the yellow pea is flowering like crazy and the ripening grasses and branches of tawny sorrel remind me of harvest time in India. There, in places, the harvest is still brought in by hand, with the heads of corn laid out on rocks to dry before being winnowed. And then the exotic buddleia is like graceful bamboo on the Li river. Strange that a place like this becomes laden with nostalgia when so much rubbish lies around. Yesterday I was digging, a shamefully random archaeology. Scratching away at the hard brick strewn earth every meagre trowel full throws up a wealth of worthless scraps – broken plates and saucers, handles (lots of handles), tiny clay cones mysteriously embedded in lumps of clay.
The work I’ve been making is about the space, and it’s about the nature of the material I’ve gathered. What it reminds me of. The simple rule is only to use the stuff I find on site: growing, buried or dumped. (Glue is the exception, though given time and knowhow even that could have been stewed up from roots or leaves, or spirited out of the tar.) I’ve collected a lot, with worryingly little time to take precautions - according to Richard Mabey’s book ‘Weeds’, some of these intruders are so toxic a couple of doses could kill a man. not much to forage here unless you’re into beetles and ants - the resident cat has licked the crisp packets clean and tins bare
That old cliché of the pastoral idyll in the city rings true. Pity Tesco is selling the land off. There’ll be a car park here soon. - Andrew Burton