Birder's Paradise: Caravan Update

It has been quite a while since I began work on the Mobile Lab, and truth be told for a few months little happened with the carvan.

However over the last couple of weeks some major progress has been made.

I completed stripping out the interior of the caravan, of all the unnecessary items- which included the shower and toilet unit, which turns out was completely rotten anyway.

Two weeks ago I traced back the source of the damp walls to some badly deteriorated panel seal on the outside. The repairs entailed digging out as best as possible the old flexible putty, and replacing with new flexible sealant. While doing this I found that the seal where the old TV aerial was fixed was also rotten and this was another thing to be removed. The van is now with any luck rain proof.

The next stage was to sort out the painting of the exterior in the customised camouflage paint job. To do this we commissioned spray specialists Malarky and Goldpeg to design and produce the work. I removed the windows of the van, most of them will be replaced with slit panels for bird watching and they would have only got in the way of the paintwork.

Following an afternoons hard graft the paintwork was complete and personally I think all caravans should sport similar paint jobs. The last remaining part of the painting will be to add the Birder's Paradise logo to the van walls.

While the painting was happening I got on with beginning the refit of the interior, the floor which was previously covered with slightly grubby brown carpet, is now a hardwearing OSB board. The walls which weren't going to be changed much originally are now going to be covered in ply which will be functional for activities, and provide reinforcement in areas where the original wall panels have literally disintegrated from the effects of damp.
That's it for now, the next stages will be to construct the window panels, re commission the electrical and gas connections then add the book shelves, feeders and other items which will make it into a functioning bird hide and activity space. Oh and repair the two jack legs which will keep the van steady when its on site.

Mobile Lab Developments

Work has begun on developing the caravan in order to turn it into the mobile lab for the birder's paradise project.

So far the process has been relatively easy the interior equipment, a lot of which was defunct has been removed and the seat beds have been stripped out to create a wide open space at the front of the van. I have also begun removing the carpet, which as well as showing it's age was also impractical for the expected muddy boots that will end up tramping across the floor.
Water Heater, Gas Heater, and Fridge Removed
Removal of the seats/bed and carpet
Interior work in progress

Removing some of the stuff from the van has shown up a few other problems that will need remedying before the van can be used.
Several of the exterior seals have been leaking for some time causing the wall panelling to rot slightly, these will be reinforced with a new ply lining, which will also give a more shed like feel to the inside. Removing the carpets has given access to the tops of the stabiliser jacks two of which need repairing which I can now do. The exterior seals will be repaired now in readiness for a new paint job.

Shiny new cans of spray
 Getting on the roof of the van revealed several decades worth of moss, lichen and algae- as much as I like moss and lichens, it would have made the paint job a bit dodgy so this has been cleaned and degreased. 

We will be working with two other artists "Malarky and Goldpeg" to paint the external walls of the van using a custom colour chart, to produce a camouflage pattern based on the colours found in a lot of the sites we will be visiting. Last week we took delivery of the shiny new Montana spray cans and will be looking forward to seeing the results in the new year.

We also have a new logo which will adorn the van eventually.

That is about it for he moment, new developments will take place over christmas and early next year, so here's a few more internal shots of creative destruction.

Birder's Paradise: Mobile Lab: First Day

Today I have embarked on a new project with Anna Francis under the title of "Birder's Paradise", the first part of this project is to develop a mobile lab/birdhide. The project is funded through Appetite's Kitchen programme,

So to start off we have acquired a 1986 Swift Corniche touring caravan, which over the winter will become a fully functioning mobile space for experiments, observations and engagements.

Currently the caravan is fully furnished; with a lot of stuff that doesn't work. Fridge, Heater, Shower, Toilet. Therefore all of this is going to get stripped out.

 In place of the usual caravan interior we will install all the things we will need to carryout the project on the move. A library of reference books, observation windows for using binoculars, moveable seating to create a more flexible space, generator power, and wifi connectivity.

Our hope is to be able to tour to various sites around stoke-on-trent and gather information about, habitats, users of particular spaces, opinions and ideas. At the same time we will also be making artistic responses to the sites we select.
Plans for the caravan conversion

An example of one type of site we will be visiting

The majority of the materials will be reclaimed 
The initial work will take place at the historic Spode factory site in Stoke Town, and may be a possible site for a test run in the new year. As well as being an excellent working space for this type of project, there is a host of materials that could be used to help with the conversion.

ICAW- Some fresh thoughts...

I have decided not to make the mapping piece I originally set out to do. I am not happy with the execution of it and I don't think it would actually work as I intended in a real world situation.
Pieces of slate used during production of "Time-Shifter"

I am currently thinking about a new piece which deals with a similar subject but has been more or less developed because of the residency. The current working title is "retrace"it will consist of a piece of welsh slate, (reclaimed from a roofing slate) and a slate drawing implement. I will smooth an area of the large slate and write on the longitude and latitude of the exhibited location this will begin a process of engraving, which will be carried on throughout the duration of the work being shown. A piece of text to accompany the piece will give instruction to the viewer to repeat the same coordinates over the existing engraving, they will then be asked to signature below, and then erase the signature.

All the dates over the previous one

During the residency I visited a place known as 'slidey rock', to document work Anna Francis. Slidey rock is a locally known feature, of an angled rock shard down which countless generations of children have slid, creating a clearly defined line of polished stone. Looking at this I thought of how it was part the place, immovable. What if this idea were to be transferred, a slow wearing away of the object so that the action of people becomes defined on the surface. I then began to think about what could be applied to the surface to make it of a place- the idea of a coordinate appeals to me- it links the object immediately to its current location and to the world. The place in which the object exists can be changed, and in turn the coordinates will change to, either erasing or embellishing sections of the previous one. The duration of time in which the object is exhibited in a place will dictate how deep a record is made within the surface, as would the number of people who view it and participate in it. By adding a signature and immediately erasing this the mark belongs for a period to the person who made it, this portion of the surface will itself become worn and weathered by the process of signing and erasing, gradually developing into an indistinct blemish on the surface, the people may pass but the record is still there somewhere.
An Initial part: the scribe

Part 2: An afternoon of sanding stone.

This is the piece of slate I have selected to use. The piece has had two smoothed sections sanded in to it to create the surfaces on which I will work. While cleaning the piece I found some small speckles of Iron Pyrites in the surface- fools gold- rather nice.

The work will be wall mounted and raised from the surface by 3/4 inch on drilled dowels, the fixings will be recovered bras screws with bras screw cups to protect the slate surface.

Thoughts while sanding- contrast of surfaces within the same object smooth and sharp/rough, grey utility against natural fissures and chaotic grain.
I will make a simple instruction set to be positioned next to the slate piece, it will be the same dimensions and shape of the slate. Transport, distribution mass production, artisan skills, global commodity, return to source, redistributed, in a place, of a place, of a person, of it's self. 
Archaic-modern, recording surface scratch, imperfections. Value and counterfeit.