Investigating a historical, local urban landscape which has been reclaimed by nature. I chose an old abandoned, disused railway line that once ran from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace, and on to Highgate. This line (opened in 1875), to the ‘Peoples Palace’, and was created for easy transportation to see the horse and buggy racing that used to be held at Alexandra Palace. It was closed in 1954 and all that remains of its urban use are the station platform and bridge arches and what look like random walkways to nowhere but the street level. The land has been appropriated as a nature reserve called The Parkland Walk. It is one of the longest nature reserves in London and home to bats, birds, butterflies a variety of plant life and foxes. Graffiti cover.s the urban remains, such as the old platforms and disused bridges.
The Railway became financially unviable as cheaper modes of transport such as buses and private motoring became available. over. time, nature weaved its magic as it spread, tumbling up walls and creeping through the crumbling man-made structures. Places such as this (once a product of our thriving Victorian Industrial history), which experience neglect from disuse are particularly subject to endemic vandalism and graffiti. They are reflective of the urbanisation of certain areas once considered affluent but now less desirable. The beauty is retained by nature in the way the wild and untamed uncontrolled space has transformed itself into a place of peace and tranquillity in its habitat.
Developing the idea through visiting archives and local museums. Taking photographs and videos and collecting actual graffiti pieces (from wall) in situ. Paintings split into nature, and urban. Nature focused on the greenery (ivy, trees, bushes), and were painterly abstract mark-making studies, that play with scale (micro to macro). Urban were spray-painted to symbolise graffiti in bold very synthetic colours. Merging the two together by spraying large scale backgrounds, then applying the painterly, earthy marks on top. Also experimenting with micro scale by painting directly onto the pieces of graffiti that had been pulled off the wall, in the same nature-like mark technique.
What really interested me were the graffiti pieces that I had ripped off the wall. I loved analysing the layers of graffiti art which showed how long people had been continuously spraying that same wall over. and over. again. I enjoyed inspecting all the flakes of colour from each person’s art. I tried to emulate this by gluing multiple layers of fabric together, then using the wood workshop sanding tools to wear away sections of fabric back to reveal the layers, creating my own distressed, rough urban look. I spent my days in the wood workshop for most of the project. To bring in the nature aspect, I used the workshop to drill holes into my stiff layered fabric sheets in an almost random dot-to-dot expression. Using silk ribbon, which I had hand-dyed in natural colours, I embroidered over. and into, the stiff layered and distressed fabric.