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I’m yet to mention a project I began working on whilst out in India with fellow Nottingham based artist Alice Thickett. The idea stemmed from Alice, who taking part in Project India from the UK, asked me to send her a series of short texts whilst I was out in Mumbai. We decided upon the medium of Twitter for this project due to the limitations of word count. These short tweets, created by myself, cryptically reflected upon experiences and encounters of both the project and city of Mumbai whilst I was out there. The 17 tweets I sent to Alice are as follows:

1. 5 arrive in Mumbai. Organised chaos. Adjust. False start but moving forward…

2. With fresh eyes heading across the tracks, first sights, everything shifts  

3. Spilting up 3 abstract stories: 1. Failed persuasion against Vastu, 2. Seeing the ‘other’ side of the city 3. The high life.

4. ‘Corruption spreads quickly in Mumbai’-taxi driver

5. Working with limitations, transforming space, jarring elements. Contemporary vs Traditional

6. Nothing is straight forward, but it’s on the cusp on something

7. Down alleyways, back street corners, open spaces, shopping malls, from dizzy heights, the city continues its constant juxtaposition

8. Explore respond dialogue explore expand create

9. Around corners, down darkened alleys, inside old buildings, up creaky staircases, behind large wooden doors, art awaits.

10. A small calm space hidden within a maze of traffic, stacked housing, colour, noise and people.

11.Traffic, horns, beep beep, bicycle bell, sweeping, birds circling, birds squawking, fans spinning, air conditioned hum

12. Dialogue, ideas and words exchanged. Re-thinking, re-evaluating and continuously evolving.

13. A space within a space, hidden. Turned inside out, revealed. Secrets of the space/// secrets of the city unravel..

14. Tying up loose threads, and still weaving across the city

15. The city coast line; in the evening’s people gather in flocks to sit and stare out to sea

16. Circles, rummaging through the cinematic past, connecting, ending, closing in

17. A taxi journey in a previous land. Two lands merged.  Distance.

In exchange, and as a development to the concept, I too received tweets from Alice in Hong Kong during the month of February. The text we have both sent and received will be responded to, becoming two separate artworks created by the recipient artists. These artworks will hopefully be shown in an exhibition at some point this year which will be based around the concept of responsive artwork. I will not reveal Alice’s tweets, but the ideas process has began to make one, or several pieces which respond to and take influence from her words. As a complete stranger to Hong Kong, Alice’s words act as my only guide, this strangeness of place will be reflected within my work as a narrative of displacement unravels…

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I discovered the work of Indian artist Charmi Gada Shah when she exhibited with us as part of Project India. After an initial chat I found that her work and mine carried similarities, both working with models and exploring the relationship between place and memory. Charmi often builds small scale models which depict elements of a space which were once present; her intricate and precise models serve as a memory of these now abandoned places. For ‘This is Now’, Project India, Charmi installed her piece ‘Still Life of a Landscape’, consisting of hundreds tiny handmade ceramic bricks which she uses to rebuild a small installation within a space. I spent some time with Charmi building up the bricks and also taking some footage of the scene created. The bricks had a wonderful individual quality to them, each one handmade and therefore seemly unique in exact colour and shape. Built together and slightly unstable the bricks display moments of fragility, parts of the wall would crumble in places adding to the scene as a physical ‘still life’. With the footage I captured I intended to make a new video piece working collaboratively with and in response to Charmi’s work as part of the ongoing nature of the project. I am not sure yet what this footage will become, if anything final, but I have plans to experiment further with it this year.

‘The revealing of hidden space within a building can also be found in the work of Charmi Gada Shah. A newly discovered secret staircase within floor boards of one room of Studio X, is exposed and houses the artists piece ‘Still Life of a Landscape’. This installation made up of hundreds of tiny handmade porcelain bricks depicts a miniature familiar landscape which encapsulates a sense of India’s deteriorating cities. Installed within the shadowy spaces of the staircase, the scale of this piece asks the viewer to interact spatially with the building as one must get down on their knees to view or even must descend the darkened staircase to engage with the piece fully, and to become transported to the fictionalised world Gada Shah is at the same time presenting us with. The piece explores both the architecture of the building within its site specific placing and also a sense of the imagined or remembered place which can haunt or equally become entwined within memory.’ 

An excerpt from a larger text I wrote, ‘A Sense of Place’, about the exhibition ‘This is Now’ which was part of Project India. Read more about the exhibition and artworks involved in the rest of the text here: http://www.a-n.co.uk/interface/reviews/single/1784241