Blueprints, Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall, 2006-2007
Blueprints was a participatory project commissioned by Newlyn Art Gallery. I developed a proposal during 2006 and began in 2007 to work with a small group of Newlyn residents to observe, record and respond to the process of building a new extension and redevelopment of the original gallery. I organised site visits during which we were escorted by the range of people involved in the redevelopment, from builders to gallery staff.
The group of participants with whom I worked comprised people of a range of ages who brought different experience, knowledge and attitudes to the gallery to share with the group. Four lived within site of it. I worked closely with them as well as builders, gallery staff and and others who had worked on the redevelopment. The work in this project evolved slowly and changed in response to each encounter I had. I was privileged to return to Newlyn to create this project following the project 1,100 Rosebuds which I had realised in 2004 as I was able to build relationships I had begun to make with people in the community at that time.
A clear Perspex ‘Blueprints Box’ became a motif throughout the project, a 'brick' which symbolised the process of building. In fact the idea came about in conversation with the Site Manager when I mentioned I wanted to make some kind of memento. He suggested a brick.
I used four of these at my stall at the Crafts Fair held at the Trinity Centre in April 2007 to publicly launch the project. It seemed appropriate that it would be used to form part of the final work I left for the gallery. The final form of these boxes represents a symbolic record of all aspects of this complex project: freehand ‘technical drawings' of elements of the building lined the base of a structure created by 80 boxes that mimic the form and proportions of the main gallery; the names of all participants; a photograph of the artefacts given to the project; a verbal description of each artefact given to the project; a ‘blueprint’ of the cards that people made of their experience of the building process and the building itself.
After each walkabout we went to a nearby pub for lunch where we discussed the experience of our walkabout. I gave everyone a set of blank postcards and a cyan blue pen to record their impression of the experience. By the end of the project I had collected over 200 of these cards.
I invited people who were involved with the refurbishment to give artefacts to the project. These were all recorded through photography and textual description. Each artefact was given a special Newlyn Art Gallery classification number, and a written record was made on site in the new space gallery during a week in residence to conclude the project.
I gave each participant a box as a memento of the project and left 80 of the boxes with the gallery for display and archiving. To bring closure to the project, we had a final Tea Party to celebrate, with a cake specially made by a local neighbour depicting the final set of boxes.