Susan Merrick

Artist and Interpreter. Power Language Access

A Field Trip!!!! (And some Ale :))

It makes me smile a lot when I can spend a day with a group of people who not only celebrate the fact that I have random ideas (which most of my friends do luckily) but who will also join in with them!

Yesterday the MA group met up in London with our fabulously spontaneous tutor Louise Ashcroft and midway through the morning I had most of the group stood around me agreeing to drop to the floor when I made the signal. No, we were not in danger, and it wasn’t wind related. I had an idea for my current film work and this was part of it. And they agreed and it worked brilliantly! Add to the fact that we were in a playground that has been built in a graveyard and the weird and wonderfulness just exudes!

We did start the day somewhere between a group of stereotypical pensioners and an actual school trip… It took us about 1hr 15 to all meet, go to the loo, get coffee and be ready to set off!

The day’s purpose was to check out some old and new London (the forshore at Rotherhythe, the Sands Film Studio and the docklands museum, contrasted with Canary Wharf) and consider a proposal of Artwork in response to stimuli of the day.

We collected and photographed a mass of incredible ‘stuff’ on the foreshore which is great fun to do. It’s just full of steel, plastic, electronics, bones…. Hundreds and hundreds of bones!… Shoes, bricks and on and on. What is there can be determined by the tides, some days it’s full of Coal Louise told us, and others like yesterday it’s bone, or something else. It’s like looking at a carpet of life, that has been and is and will be.

From the foreshore we walked along to a great pub and The Sands Film Studios where we had an hour looking through their amazing image archives. We were also taken into their gorgeous old screening cinema where they view the rushes and have a film night once a month. The volunteer who showed us around was so passionate and it’s definitely somewhere I want to visit again.

Another visit to the pub (well I AM a student again 😉 and then we headed to Canary Wharf and the docklands museum. Going from old to new and looking at the history and then the shiny buildings of the financial district was in sharp contrast to one another. It’s pretty representative of London as a whole, new around the corner from old and even sticking out from within it. A theme that I am definitely exploring within my work on language. As buildings merge together with old and new, as does language and the meanings of words and terms. I am looking at nursery rhymes at the moment and these are sometimes centuries old, with recorded or ‘supposed’ meanings or multiple meanings over the centuries and decades.

Within Canary Wharf I was particularly drawn to the rhyme ‘Pop goes the weasel’, and if you look at the various meanings associated with it over the years there are quite a few! Some related to money as I originally assumed, but most are actually linked to cloth making! There is debate as to whether Cockney rhyming slang plays a part in it, if so in what way or whether it was a nonsense title to a dance tune of the 1850s. (Source: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/pop-goes-the-weasel.html )

The final leg of our trip was a trip back to Waterloo by boat. A fantastic way to see the old and new merging together and opposing one another all at the same time. We left the massive shining lit up buildings of Canary Wharf and sped along the choppy Thames along the edge of londons North and South sides of the Thames, past the many gorgeous old wharf buildings and the million pound apartments and conversions with the beauty of a big city all around. I’m afraid here I’m just corny because I love being swept along by speed and feeling the freedom of the water whilst in the middle of a massive city. I’m not by nature a city girl, but this madness of the Thames running through London I absolutely love. A city of tunnels and trains and water as veins pumping the life blood that is people.

 

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