Talking on Corners

Talking on Corners was a group of site-specific projects by female artists from the North West, curated by Professor Lubaina Himid CBE, which revealed and connected audiences with hidden or overlooked experiences of place.

Artists: Patricia Walsh, Pam Holmes, Magda Stawarska-Beavan, Susan Walsh, Chantal Oakes
Locations: Preston City Centre, Brew Cafe, Harris Museum & Art Gallery, St Wilfred’s Church, St John’s Centre, Preston Guild Hall
Years: 2006-10
Partners: Preston City Council, St Wilfred’s Church, Harris Museum, Brew Cafe, Prof Lubaina Himid
Funders: Lancashire County Council, Arts Council of England

Remote Viewing by Patricia Walsh

Patricia Walsh was one of the first artists to be commissioned by In Certain Places. Her artwork, Remote Viewing, is a seven-minute soundscape, which was played in various venues across the city centre over a two-week period in summer 2006.

The title, Remote Viewing, refers to the psychic phenomena of extra-sensory perception (ESP). The sound piece includes an instrumental passage called ‘Eternally’ by the jazz bandleader Cyril Stapleton, and a series of extracts from conversations that explore ethereal beings and environments.

Played twice a day in cafes and a shopping centre, the artwork caught people unawares, drawing them into an intriguing audio experience, and shifting perceptions of time and place.

The Arcade by Magda Stawarska

The Arcade is a sound piece that brought the soundscape of Rynek Główny, the main square in Kraków, Poland, to the Harris Museum & Art Gallery. The recording was made in the Sukiennice, an arcaded Renaissance cloth hall that dates from 1257, and illustrates a day in the life of Rynek Główny. It begins at the moment the city awakens, with birdsong, the footsteps of people going to work, cleaning machines, early maintenance and building work, and it ends with tourists and locals making their way home from bars and clubs. Each hour is marked by a chiming clock in Rynek Główny and a trumpet signal, played from one of two towers in the square. The tune breaks off in mid-stream to commemorate a thirteenth century trumpeter, who was shot while sounding the alarm during an attack on the city.

The interaction of visitors with the sound and architecture was an important element of the work, and the piece held specific meanings for different audiences. For a Polish immigrant the sound of the trumpet player from Mariacki Church may have provoked nostalgia and perhaps longing for the familiar sounds of the motherland, while the noise of a busy arcade transported a local Preston audience to a more recent past, when the city was a lively bustling centre of commerce.


Thoughts that Make Actions in the World by Chantal Oakes

Thoughts that make Actions in the World is an abstract animation, which was created in response to Preston Bus Station, a unique 1960s building which is said to be the second largest in Western Europe. In 2008, the building was earmarked for demolition as part of Preston’s Tithebarn regeneration scheme. Chantal Oakes created the work in response to her observations of the site – specifically the graffiti-covered backrests that line the bus bays. Rather than the subjects of mindless defacement, the artist viewed the backrests as objects ‘annotated with marks brought about as a by-product of powerful thoughts’.

The resulting animation constituted a regeneration of these exclamations, coupled with the artist’s own visual statements of engagement with the site. The work was projected onto the windows of a disused shop unit in the St. John’s shopping centre as a three-screen installation. The animation was timed to denote the paced appearances of people and transport, and the flow of air, heat, echo and noise, and thoughts while waiting in line.

To Scatter by Susan Walsh

‘Suddenly Sleep retreats like the undertow of a wave in which a child grasps at a half-glimpsed shell, as I do at this cluster of notes, just heard in a dream.’ Andrei Makine – A Life’s Music

To Scatter is a short film, made by artist Susan Walsh as a memorial to Irish migrants, particularly those to Preston and the North West. It explores the significance of music and song as a vital way for Irish migrants to remember events, people from the past and a way of life left behind. To play music, to sing about important issues, events in the news or to mock or joke about politicians or the wealthy, to sing about traditions, family life, love and tragedy has always been a tool for the poor and disenfranchised to vent their opinions. It is a safe place to keep unwritten views and plot future strategies.

The film features a chandelier made from a set of piano keys. The piano is an instrument, which allows for the integration of Irish music and ballads into an adopted site for meeting and reunion: the church, the public house, the home. This can enable a merging of both Irish and English histories of socialising, worship, contemplation and musical entertainment within a potentially political arena. To Scatter was shown over a two-week period in St. Wilfrid’s Roman Catholic Church, Preston.

Beside the Seaside… by Pam Holmes

Pam Holmes, an artist who uses photography, worked with black and mixed-race Lancashire residents to produce a series of three images, which were displayed on billboards at key entry points in Preston. The images, which were taken in Blackpool, focused on the traditional English setting of the seaside and created docudramas, which aimed to deconstruct the myth of England and the notion of Englishness.

In Certain Places

VB005A, Victoria Building
University of Central Lancashire
Preston, PR1 2HE