A new collaboration with the artist Rita Fenning, part of The Open Studios, Site Festival, Stroud, Gloucestershire, May 2014

The 18th edition of The Site Festival, Stroud Gloucestershire, starts on the 1st May 2014 and it will bring a dynamic programme of visual arts, performance, music, screening and open studios. The artist-led festival promotes collaborations and projects including a wide range of visual media, ceramics, textiles and poetry.
http://www.sitefestival.org.uk

My collaboration with the artist Rita Fenning for the Open Studios http://ritafenning13.wix.com/ritafenning-web explores the concepts of ‘memory’ and ‘identity’, in an attempt to define and compare childhood stories and games in two different cultures, British and Romanian during the Cold War.

Rita has produced a series of artist books and installations as well as a doll’s house which will be the centre of a new exhibition open to the public in her studio. The exhibition is part of The Open Studios Festival which will be launched on Friday, 9th May 2014.
http://www.sitefestival.org.uk/2014%20support%20material/OS%20Directory%202014%20for%20Web%20v2.pdf

The exhibition in Rita’s studio will be open to the public on 10th, 11th, 17th and 18th May 2014.
A preview with some of the included work and video clip, to follow shortly.

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Lesson of Admiration

Clara peels the potatoes.
She had her hair cut very short
so when she worked the land
the teary locks did not blight the grass.
‘Bad luck for the crops’ concluded father
one afternoon as he watched the news bulletin.

He switched the television off and
put the lights on.
He measured the length of each eyelash
and declared that ‘yes, indeed, they did stop us
understand the real life’.

Nobody could disagree with a scientific discovery.
Father took the scissors out of the cupboard
and laughed at me
as he dropped Clara’s plaits on the living room carpet.
My black plaits never grew after that.
The hair developed inside my lungs.
At night, I spat the growing particles out
and hid them under the floor boards.

Father believed the news as, he said, ‘we all
had to believe in something certain,
which can be seen with the naked eye,
in real things’, like the soiled potatoes
spread on the dinner table.

On Thursdays, we peel potatoes,
kneeling in silence by the water pipes.
Father sits on a stool to watch
my weekly exercise of admiration.
He checks the peels stained with droplets of blood
and laughs again.

My bald head tilted above the sink looks at Clara.
My hair comes
out of my mouth,
out of my chopped fingers,
floats in the air,
to cover her skull.

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Photograph: John Stadnicki

Family Photograph

‘No-no!’ I shouted ‘the fish tank will stay in my room!’
The golden dead creature, floating on the green water,
had my mother’s face
before she went away.
I liked to keep everything neatly
in the same place where she left them,
undisturbed by the melting sun.

The dust shined
on the glass lid,
on the doll’s eye,
on my forehead
each night
when asleep in the hallway.

I sat down on the cracked lino,
covered my arms with leafs
and kept watching Clara tidying-tidying the house.
Her yellow fingers piled everything in a black bag.
She left the fish alone, with a sigh.

Looking at her moves up and down the stairs
I thought she looked a bit like
the one-winged butterfly
unable to jump out
through the shut window.

I wondered what butterfly meat tasted like,
if sliced with a silver blade;
what mother tasted like
in the moment I was released
honey coated pearl.
I put my elbow close to my lips
and smelled to see
if she was somehow hiding in there.

Clara tripped over my spread legs
but kept singing.
She did not look ahead.
I looked ahead
at each room
with a serious face.
My empty baby skin rested
on top of the rubbish bin.

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Installation: Rita Fenning