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CANWEYE { } (2016)

CANWEYE { } is a single channel 16mm film and installation, fly-poster series and 16mm film trailer, commissioned as part of a solo exhibition at Focal Point Gallery, Southend. Within a three-part construction in the gallery, different vantage points are offered on a moving image work, filmed in Essex and Venice.

This work stems from earlier research around Derek Jarman’s Plague Street (acquisition 1972), a drawing I have speculated to be one of his set designs for Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971) – a film that Jarman later captured on Super 8, directly from the screen at the Elgin Cinema, New York. His reconfigured version The Devils at the Elgin (1974), concludes in a “blizzard of ashes”, and presents the set as Jarman originally envisaged. This ‘ghost’ adaptation becomes an invisible score for CANWEYE { }, itself, material that exists around the periphery of a cinematic production. In this way, I consider the film to be displaced across multiple sites and times.

The work appears to orbit another film, and acts as a document-fiction to this unmade epic. The film embraces the instabilities within both analogue and digital processes, and like the partial structure in the gallery, exposes the materials of its creation.

In CANWEYE { }, the image of the film ‘set’ – between states of construction and deconstruction – becomes the main character in a meta-fiction within the context of the Thames Estuary. Comprising sequences captured on Canvey Island, in Southend-on-Sea and Venice, historical narratives emerging from archival material are enmeshed with accounts of the elaborate practices of Victorian entrepreneur and property developer Fredrick Hester. In the early twentieth century, Hester mounted an ambitious proposal for a facsimile Venice to be built on Canvey Island, featuring its own Grand Canal and Essex Rialto Bridge. In this sense, the work is both local and de-localised, where architectural or geological sites signify another kind of ‘set’ or presentation in construction.

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INCIPIT, is a footnote to CANWEYE { }, and presents three musicians in the process of recording the film score, composed by Leo Chadburn. Here, the constituent parts of the score are compressed to present an altered temporal space. 'Incipit' originates from latin, and means “it begins”. It represents the first few words of a text, or in a musical composition, the initial sequence of notes. INCIPIT can be viewed here >

A blizzard of ashes, a commissioned text by Ellen Greig, can be read here ablizzardofashes_ellengreig2016_final.pdf


Images 1-5, CANWEYE { } film stills; images 6 - 12, installation views, Focal Point Gallery and Southend off-site, July - October 2016. The work comprises: CANWEYE { } (2016), installation and single channel 16mm film, 30 min 45 sec, 16mm film transferred to digital, colour, stereo; INCIPIT (2016), single channel film, 4 min 37 sec, 16mm film transferred to digital, colour stereo; and TELEPATH (2016), fly-posters, acoustic hessian panels, coloured fluorescent light bulbs. Thanks to: Phil Coy, the team at Focal Point Gallery, Ellen Greig, Chu-Li Shewring, Leo Chadburn, John Salim, Michael Curran, Ezra Coy, Roger Plumstead, Adam Gutch, Anton Lukoszevieze, Aisha Orazbayeva, Richard Cookson, Fraser Muggeridge, Southend Museums Service, Rosemary de Boise and the Canvey Island Heritage Centre, Jonathan Murphy and the London Borough of Camden, Estate of Derek Jarman, Wilkinson Gallery, London, Jem Moorshead and Scenery Salvage, i-dailies, David Jones, Paul Eastwood, James Mackay, Raymond Dean, Kelly Large, Jordan Baseman and Christine Scott.