Today and tomorrow Dundee Print Collective is taking part in a two day takeover of the Cooper Gallery, Dundee as part of an ongoing project Two Night Stands – a series of events grappling with themes of contested space, both within institutions and outside of them. Referencing ongoing artistic activism and ‘happenings’ – the gallery will be taken over by different groups throughout the course of the event. Dundee Print Collective is producing a series of posters responding to the theme I’m Trouble/We’re Trouble during the event, creating a scene reminiscent of the aftermath of protest.
I’m Trouble/We’re Trouble – photograph by Dundee Print Collective
The image I submitted to be printed on my behalf by the collective is part of some new work I am creating as part of my residency at Alice Yard in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The print is a sketch I made in response to a walk I did with Trinidadian artist Josh Lu who is interested in memory and histories of spaces. We walked through the Lapeyrouse Cemetery, part of which was a local dump before the cemetery expanded to the size it is today. After heavy rainfall or excavation work, items from this dump make their way to the surface and can be easily be spotted in the dusty soil. Josh has been cataloging the items he finds here, including bottles, pieces of plates, jugs, teapots and inkwells. According to his research, many of these items were created in potteries in Scotland, before being shipped off for the use of the colonial population here.
These earthenware salt glazed “penny inkwells” were probably made by one of the major industrial potteries in Glasgow between the mid 19th and early 20th centuries, a time in which Scotland’s industry was, to a huge extent, funded by the profits of the plantation colonies and the labour of enslaved peoples in the Caribbean. My sketch was an attempt to begin to understand the connections between these two places and the histories of contested spaces inherent within that connection. Scribbled depictions of containers of dark liquid, deliberately ambiguous, perhaps they are inkwells or oil drums or shipping barrels. Beneath them a quick line snatched from Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues: “Get sick, get well, hang around an inkwell, ring bell, hard to tell, if anything’s gonna sell”. These lines out of context of the rest of the song take on new meanings in a place where the ringing of bells triggers connotations within an array of local religious practices.
Following the event in Dundee, DPC will ship some of the prints across the Atlantic to Trinidad, where they will occupy the community space of Alice Yard in another manifestation of “I’m Trouble/We’re Trouble” where territory and ownership of space sits at the heart of the cultural and artistic conversation. I am excited to see what happens next…
About the programme:
I was was selected as part of the Transatlantic Artists’ Residency Exchange (TAARE) programme initiated by the British Council Caribbean working in collaboration with Delfina Foundation, Gasworks, Autograph ABP and Hospitalfield Arts; and Caribbean partners: NLS Kingston in Jamaica and Alice Yard in Trinidad. The aim of TAARE is to focus on artistic exchanges between UK, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. The residency is for visual artists, art critics and curators who want to make new transatlantic links, build on existing connections or to explore the further developments of their practice.