For this #ThursdayThoughtsDay I’m thinking about the construction of the last zine, the subject matter, and the composition. This led to some introspective consideration – just call it navel gazing.
Perhaps it’s morbid fascination, but I’m often drawn to things that are no longer whole, to chipped paint, weeds through crumbling pavement, and industrial ruins. Rochdale, like many places in nothern England, has its fair share of (mostly) nineteenth-century industrial buildings. Some of which, like the buildings along the Ashton Canal in Manchester, readied for redevelopment (for example, Warwick Mill in Middleton). And then there are the buildings that are slowly tumbling down (for example, Rock Nook Mill in Littleborough). I had chosen the name and the theme for the second zine before I had taken the pictures to accompany it; my route into Rochdale takes me past Rock Nook Mill and the mottled greys stay with me long after I’ve zoomed past. So, I thought for the 2nd zine to try to capture some of these thoughts and I knew the perfect place to hide it*.
I set up the folding and cutting of the paper then dyed the sheet using dual brush felt tips and water. The process involved scribbling grey and brown using the brush end across the paper, interspersing intense scribbling with a few lines of colour. I then brushed across the paper with water soaking the paper. One of the things I’ve noticed about this is that there is a sense of stress relief, that my brain almost seemed to go blank as I splashed and sloshed water everywhere. After leaving it to dry overnight, I was ready to arrange the photographs and select leaflets from a big folder**. In this folder are tourist and visitor leaflets that I’ve collected over the last three years for places around the borough, I was holding on to these in order to analyse the language used in them – this was while I was still deciding what shape my final project was going to take (still shaping, but final shaping now). As I have so many (too many?!) I’ve selected certain ones to repurpose the language rather than try to deconstruct meaning. I still have plenty left if I need them, however, they may now be saved for something else. And that something else may involve cutting them up and reusing them!
Rather serendipitously – I think, otherwise this lay latent in my brain waiting for the perfect moment to be triggered – one of the leaflets was an advert for Instruments of Industry, a piece by artist Hannah Leighton-Boyce created during a residency at Touchstones Heritage Centre. This leaflet was to promote the exhibition, a culmination of Leighton-Boyce’s year-long residency and the sounds, and some of the oral histories, accompanied selected tools displayed in one of the galleries. I reworked a selection of the words to fit the zine’s theme. (You might be able to see some of my rubbed out notes in pencil in this image too.)
Continuing the industrial thread, I followed this with a word from another leaflet on Rochdale town centre’s heritage and some selected walks. The image was a building that caught my eye as I searched for the cache where I was going to hide it. (I need to do this sort of reconnaissance otherwise I wouldn’t be able to conceal the books!) This building’s discovery followed a conversation I had with someone who was fishing in the river Roch (his catch = 2 trout) and I was already keen to capture some of that conversation so the phone was out to take a note. When I went to cross the road, there it was. I was intrigued, at first by BETTER DREAMS LTD which sounded like a business from a speculative fiction film, how could a limited company sell better dreams? Or were these better dreams limited? Nevertheless, SNAP and the image was captured. It was only when I looked up that I realised that it had been a cotton mill: Mitchell Hey Mills. Two businesses no longer in business, industrial dreams faded in daylight. Haunted and re-haunted, ruins layered over ruins.
I used both the image and the word to inspire new phrases which I wrote straight onto the zine. Normally I plan and edit creative work before the final piece, this spontaneity is unusual. However, when I make the one that will go with the thesis I may think around it and change it a bit, but then again I might not. (Although I’ll try to improve the handwriting!)
After playing with other words from a leaflet on the parks and gardens in the town centre, and putting a picture in that is (technically) no longer in Rochdale I had finished. I was ready to refold the zine and stick the corners down with trusty Pritt Stick (other glues are available).
All the zines are packed in a biodegradable wallet, sealed with rice paper washi tape with a blank booklet and pencil to inspire more new writing and/or sketching. (Hopefully reflecting on the place where it is found.) The place where this one is has some ruins, where those that were loved have become part of the wildlife that curls up surfaces, the mosses in indented words, the grasses that fringe the pathways, and in the trees whose wide canopies protect the stone from rain.
* When I last checked the zine still hadn’t been found. . .
** Collaged words from leaflets produced by Link4Life and Rochdale Metropolitan Borough 2014 – 2016.