Dudley Library

Dudley Library, Dudley
2009–2010
Many a moon, 2010, collage, 100 x 120 cm

Many a moon, 2010, collage, 100 x 120 cm

Many a moon, 2010, detail

Many a moon, 2010, detail

Many a moon, 2010, detail

Many a moon, 2010, detail

Many a moon, 2010, detail – shoppers on birdcage walk

Many a moon, 2010, detail – shoppers on birdcage walk

Many a moon, 2010, detail – children playing outside Wychbury Court

Many a moon, 2010, detail – children playing outside Wychbury Court

An Arts Council England funded residency and commission to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Dudley Library. The project included workshops and temporary works in response to the site as well as the commissioned work that is on permanent display in the library. Spring 2009 – Summer 2010

Future Fossil
The last 100 years have seen massive change with the Industrial Revolution and two World Wars dramatically impacting on the shape future society. During this time expectations of working conditions and what a life should offer in terms of healthcare, living standards, and leisure time have exploded to perhaps unrealistic proportions.

But what about the more mind-boogling distances in time that can be measured through geology? 425 million years ago Dudley lay 15 degrees north of the equator, roughly where Brazil sits today, and probably looked like the kind of shallow tropical sea that we might recognise today from travel brochures and the TV. Today the climate is very different and other ways are sought to top up on UV rays.

The rocks and fossils for which Dudley has international repute, lay preserved for 425 million years and were discovered during the mining activity that supported The Black Country’s industrial output at the turn of the Century. Crystalline memories mark a shifting landmass, tropical climbs and lost creatures, as with shifts, spasms and eruption, the earth erases the past and crushes what is remembered onto it’s surface.

When visiting the Dudley archive in Coseley village and looking through copies of The Herald from the year1909 I was struck by the number of advertisements for soap. I knew that washing had taken up a large part of women’s lives before the invention of the washing machine, but now I began to realise that the reality of living and working in the Black Country would have been a mucky business for everyone.

I started to make some experiments with cheap, green soap from the local supermarket and noticed how like the texture of a rock formation the soap made as it was sliced. I started to think of the caves that are present in Dudley and I imagined the library as a future fossil. In the next 425 million years what will be preserved and what will be washed away?