Absent from Work

Hillman, John (2013) Absent from Work. In: Kindling the Scarp, Exeter University.

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Abstract / Summary

The phrase “Absent from work” was written in the notebook of a China Clay Mine Captain. The notebook, which contained everyday observations from the activities in the China Clay industry in St Austell, also contained, at the back, a list of names and dates of those miners who had been “absent from work”. As the artist John Cage noted: “When you start working, everybody is in your studio - the past, your friends, enemies, the art world, and above all, your own ideas - all are there. But as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you are lucky, even you leave.”

This paper will explore the relationship between presence and absence in the context of the China Clay Area through photographic and video work, including images from the Wheal Martyn archive that have been produced as part of an on-going PhD research project entitled: Representing communities and the post-industrial landscape in the shadow of the “Cornish Alps”. It will consider how the landscape shapes the sense of place in the area of the clay mines by proposing that the sky tips and waste produce from the industry can be considered as a diorama. This symbolism suggests both the presence of the ability to transform the environment and the absence of work and employment within the local community and the region.

Ultimately asking whether creative arts practice can be used to re-present the perceptual experience of a place. It will take Jack Clemo’s loss of hearing and later loss of sight as a point of reference, framing how the absence or presence of different perceptual senses fold into and onto our understanding of where and who we are.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Arts > Photography
Courses by Department: The Institute of Photography > Photography
Depositing User: John Hillman
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2015 08:49
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 16:06
URI: http://repository.falmouth.ac.uk/id/eprint/1560

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