It is from this perspective that I start to trace my practise through reflection on my experiences and how they have led me to begin both an creative, artistic and intellectual journey into gaining a deeper insight into my current practise. This is the story of how I started to explore some of the issues that I intend to discuss in this thesis, and actually the start of my research.
I was born and raised in the Longsight area of south Manchester, in a small, two bedroom terraced house, shared with six other siblings , sharing the limited resources, entertainment was often nothing more than what we could find, and how far your imagination stretched.
Eston Street, was different in the sense it was the first street(or the last depending on how you looked at it) The street was one of several identikit terraced streets along the main road, nothing separating them apart from dilapidated street signs attempting (and often failing) to differentiate the terraced clones from one another. The small gardens that each house did have were an cruel joke; The only soil was the dry dusty dirt covered the different shades of concrete and asphalt, with the only signs of nature being the prickly and often painful weeds which grew where the dirt collected in the concrete cracks and around the often dirty and garbage ridden back alley’s. There was no greenery apart from the aggressive thorny plant life, and as an inquisitive child, with 2 other siblings my age, we often yearned for the tall misshapen lampposts known as tree’s , and the small, pretty, non prickly weeds known as flowers we had seen in the few visits to a magical wonderland known as ‘the park’
As a child I and my brothers often sat outside our house, Number 3, happily playing in the dirt with little more than stones and left over ice lolly sticks, channelling puddle water into the drain with our imaginations running riot with tales of giant ants being drowned by sudden floods, washing them away into the dark echoes of the gutters abyss. There was little else to do in the street; the few cars that were present broke up the monotonous regularity of the identical terraced houses , we couldn’t venture outside the street as tales of the fast flowing child killing traffic, kidnappers and wild dogs, scared any glimmer of natural inquisitive spirit we had to venture that way, that left us with the other end of the street, blocked off by the great wall.
The great wall was a wall like no other, it seemed to span in all directions, across the entire back end of the street and all the remaining streets along the road. It was also unmountable in height(8ft to a 4 year old is neck straining tall) to even the attempts of several small children trying desperately to stand precariously on each others shoulders whilst trying to reach for the top of the wall. Attempts always proved fruitless as the wall was impassable. The great wall did however have one strange feature, a single locked wooden door in the centre. This strange door was always locked, and despite the kicks of several small children, and strained attempts to pull the door handle, never relented to our puny attempts. The wall and door held an unknown promise, from beyond the wall we could see the large towering green lampposts, those tree’s we had seen on a few occasions swayed in the cool wind which only strangely appeared to exist beyond the wall.
On several rare occasions we’d happen to notice mysterious figures appear from nowhere, unlocking the door with the legendary key, we’d all imagined existed somewhere, the shadowy figures would often slip by unnoticed until we realised where they were headed; the magical doorway into another world. Of course the figure would always quickly slip through and lock the door behind him, despite our best efforts we would never reach the door before it was locked, however for a few moments we glimpsed what was beyond the great wall: the sunlight would flood through the door unabated spilling out onto the dusty tarmac, revealing the a world composed entirely with different shades of green, from the warm ethereal soft light green hues shimmering through the grass to the dark glossy emerald glimmers from the holly bushes, this was clearly where nature lived, but just as sudden as this glorious revelation appeared, so was it taken from us, as door to the great wall, swung shut, hiding it’s great secret once again.
On a day like any other, I sat playing the dirt, drawing strange patterns into the layers of dirt by the pavement , there was little or no traffic on the main road and it was peacefully quite, the only sound of the clanking tins cans scuttling in the wind was broken by an eerie and unfamiliar sound; a slow creak followed by a short unsteady wooden bang. I looked around to investigate and nothing seemed apparent, the slow creak and wooden bang followed once more, as I looked around nervously , out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the door in the great wall moved slightly….I watched patiently to see if the unknown sound matched the movement of the door with baited breath, it did….the door swung open to reveal the rich greenery beyond…I looked around to see if it wasn’t a cruel joke but it wasn’t……