Alycia 2 Henna Asikainen Wing Cradle Art Walk Prty 2023 Photo Sally Jubb
Henna Asikainen, ‘Wing Cradle’, installation shot, Art Walk Porty, 2023. Photo: Sally Jubb

FRAGMENTS

This piece has been published during an active genocide taking place in Gaza. At the time of writing, 16 March, 2024, more than 31,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 1.7 million Palestinians have been displaced in the Israeli government’s offensive in the occupied Gaza Strip since October 7th, 2023. If you read this piece, please consider making a donation to Medical Aid for Palestinians www.map.org.uk

On my journey from Leith, stray fuchsia petals fall
into and through the cobblestones.

*

I collect the guts of materials.
All of their porous mythologies.

*

The boat does not fit down the studio stairs.

*

Stray feathers fall into and through the kiln.

*

My heels are wet with blades of grass that still
reach into last night’s sky.

*

Last night’s wet sky slips through
the vast and peculiar hole in the ceiling.

*

An inherited harness splays out its meaning. Unflinchingly.

*

‘Time’ and ‘space’ are placeholder nouns
for a migrating body.

*

The callous made by a sewing needle
weaving together voice notes of a female friendship.

*

What is the art of healing
when entrenched in non-symbiotic capitalism?

*

I love artmaking that allows for a margin of error.

*

My body next to works of art will only
ever be a series of impressions.

*

A handstitched prototype
before the steady whir of a machine.

*

A plant in the ginger family
rhizomatic and liquescent

vibrates to low frequency soundwaves.

*

Made from what can fit in a suitcase
the scale of this piece is departure.

*

I brush past a garden wet with blades of grass
still reaching into last night’s overcast sky.

*

The opening in the ceiling is a pinprick.

We churn underneath

microbial, oily slick, unravelling into bodily fragments.

*

This poem will always
contain lines that desire to leak out of the margins

*

… and into adjacent meaning

*

… produced by the viewer.

*

The significance of these ingredients.
Folk song, rice, lesser galangal, water, inherited knowledge.

*

A story as small as a pinprick and as glistening as blood.

*

The artist shapes a vision that stretches
beyond ecotones

including that thin divider between
air and seawater / vessel and lip.

*

Including that long line across the earth that I now draw onto my page with a fine-tip pen.

*

Including that long line that manages
to hold in it

every ancient memory and every ancient memory.

Alycia Jenny Pope Buoyancy in unprecendented times Art Walk Porty 2023 Photo Jon Davey 8
Jenny Pope, Buoyancy in unprecedented times, Art Walk Porty 2023. Photo: Jon Davey

SEAWORTHY

found materials/water
deconstructed sleeve parts/water
soaked and woven strips of plywood/ water
Jellyfish Connector
Magpie Fidget (too many marbles to juggle)

Lifeboat no 13
a ceremonial launchwater water
and collective survival kit/water water
old motorbike cover and latex/ water water
Angel of Protection and Reflection

Buoyancy Aid with Mooring

Global Networked Instant Feedback Green Barometer
1.5” x 1.2” x 30cm/water water water
a folksong at high tide/water water water
navigating hope in uncertain times/ water water water
Optimism fan
Life Ring for the Next Noah

Climate Activists’ Song Catcher
coastal edges ahead/
a layered relationship with the sea/
the wind is as important as the waves/
take an object from the land for good luck/
the size of the coracle is dictated by one large
cow or one large ox and the size of their hide/
boats at the orkney exhibit made with oil-skin cloth in the 1860 went to the arctic/
living at the sea edge of portobello inspires not exactly melancholy but unsureness/
prehistoric coracles were found in an archaeological dig at fife as a functional boat/
materials transition from a static basket on land into watery elemental movements/
second reiteration might be bamboo or seaweed or something local from a garden/
water water water water
water water water water
water water water water water
water water water water water
water water water water water
water water water water water water
water water water water water water
water water water water water water water
water water water water water water water water water
water water water water water water water water water water
water water water water water water water water water water water

INTERLUDE: RESEARCH

When I read ekphrastic poems from Bluest Nude in the Scottish Highlands, it somehow feels like walking into memory. Artwork tricks me into believing I have been here before. It dredges up an indistinct feeling and reshapes it into the crown of a northern forest. Ama Codjoe writes ‘Yiadom-Boakye doesn’t set her figures // in time or place’ and so I fill in the blanks. Time and place become murky with residual experience. I anticipate making meaning from another artist’s meaning. I experience every single dimension for a brief moment. Her art and my skin coalesce. Do you see how this is all arranged? Do you see how a poem after a poem after an artwork after an artwork is just like the mind rearranging itself again and again? I’m poised at the start of Upper Reelig Trail. The glen is awash with Douglas fir and feathery light. I call this piece serendipity. I call this piece I won’t feel this feeling twice.

BIRDNESS

I push the window to the haybale studio wide open

Someone touches the harness,
human intervention changes its shape.

and release the bird trapped inside.

These reins have travelled from Finland
to Newcastle.

The juvenile blue tit spent an unknown amount of time

Especially in cold countries, birds were used
to calibrate the seasons and tell time.

pressed against the slit of open air she must have first come through.

Zainah’s story, a series of voice notes,
echoes off the kiln’s fragmented walls.

Newly fledged blue tits are less strongly marked

A familial project sculpted by the artist
using ancestral materials.

than their mothers and have bright yellow cheeks.

Twin mothers construct a cradle of feathers
on an industrial scale sewing machine.

I couldn’t recognise her then: small and fluttering

The speakers are recharged overnight and all
sounds are cavernous reverberations.

only within weeks of leaving her nest.

A story of forced migration and loneliness
within asylum seeking systems.

Her plumage was a greyish blue before her moult,

The kiln has no beginning and no
no explicit vantage point to view a fallen angel.

before she replaced her feathers­.

A war horse named Hela once wore
these now pliable reins.

Her wings tap and buzz against the glass barrier

[I was just looking for a safe place.]
[When I crossed the ocean with my son.]

between a home and a haunting.

I look up ‘angel’ and ‘ecology’ and ‘mother.’
My search history is a gathering of birdsong echoes[i].

INTERLUDE: METHODOLOGY

On Saturday morning the tide is low at Portobello beach. Water drags across the coastline like the outro to a folk song. The crests of waves, those small undulating peaks, come nearer and nearer until they break onto the shore. I imagine they keep going, migrating into a new environment, wet and silky across the sand and up the promenade, landing next to the local pollinators in a field of wildflowers at Figgate Park. The sea is a poetics of movement. My inherited memory is a poetics of the sea. I snap a photograph that flattens the world, erases the velocity of water. Still, I’m glad to have captured even one small glistening thing. I brace myself as saltwater creeps up my ankles. I’m never ready for the shock of cold water but I begin to tune into a new bodily language. Sea flora entangle my calves / pebbles and feathers feel slick under my bare feet. I take one sharp inhale before I launch into the rising unknown. I swim. Timestamp me into a field note.

Alycia 3 Vira Putri Tired Water installation Art Walk Porty 2023
Vira Putri, ‘Tired Water’, installation, Art Walk Porty 2023

TABLEAU


Ingredients

  • 1 shallow brass bowl with a wide lip
    4 repurposed archaeological archive jars with lids
    1 jar Portobello seawater
    250g palm sugar
    1 glass mortar and pestle
    250g lesser galangal
    2 cups rice
    1 disassembled car speaker
    2 white slightly sheer squares of fabric
    1 green and pink floral patterned shawl
    1 teal desk lamp
    1 folk song

Directions

  1. Enter the gallery and see the vessel on a low table in the corner of the room.
  2. Approach the installation and listen to the folk song it emits. The melody might remind you of a lullaby.
  3. Leave the door open behind you and notice how the sounds of traffic mingle with music.
  4. Observe the apothecary instruments. Crouch to look through the mortar and pestle to see the glass jar filled with lesser galangal behind it.
  5. At this point, the vessel should be in close proximity.
  6. Let the rippling Beras kencur draw your attention.
  7. Look into the engraved bowl and note the laminated layers: grains of rice sunken beneath a stratum of seawater.
  8. Watch the spot lit vessel for a full minute as energy becomes another kind of energy.
  9. As the low frequency soundwaves transfer to the tonic, there should be clear rippling, then vibrating droplets like hard rainfall, then finally, stillness.
  10. Through a transmission medium, sound transforms into movement right before your eyes.
  11. Feel the vibrations internally and ascertain what is bodily dislodged: fatigue and other rheumatic symptoms.
  12. Images of orange-stained fingers on Portobello beach merge with bubbling liquid in a jar.
  13. Become momentarily transported to your childhood home.
  14. Suspend yourself in the memories of patterned fabrics draped over kitchen chairs.
  15. Listen to the folk song as it repeats. It’s ok if you can’t pinpoint the swell of emotion that stirs within you.

[i] birdsong echoes

***

Alycia Pirmohamed is the author of the poetry collection Another Way to Split Water. Her other works include Hinge, Faces that Fled the Wind, and Second Memory. Her nonfiction debut A Beautiful and Vital Place won the Nan Shepherd Prize for nature writing and is forthcoming with Canongate. Alycia currently teaches on the Creative Writing master’s at the University of Cambridge.

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Art Walk Projects is an artist-led organisation working collaboratively with artists, communities & audiences to create social place-centred projects & residencies based around Portobello and Edinburgh’s north eastern coast. We produce and deliver an annual contemporary arts festival ‘Art Walk Porty’ that entwines the local with the further afield, concentrated around a series of public realm curated works, and the celebration of the local creative community of Portobello.

www.artwalkporty.co.uk/ www.instagram.com/artwalkporty/