John Wood's Art

Places

‘You belong to these generations that drift between buildings’
Brian Patten

 

The changing urban landscape as a metaphor - new times, new technology, new needs – the past slips away, the future creeps in. Emotional reactions, memories interlocked with the architecture of a hometown scored and scarred with the results of rampant unchecked town planning. A working town, not working anymore – no visible remnants left of the industry that the town grew and developed around; furniture, printing, paper making.   

A town centre car park, situated over a bus station, with an exit ramp that turns 180 degrees at the bottom of its descent. From a walk down Tom Burt’s Hill into the town the bus station, car park and exit ramp come into view. It’s a work of art; the strength of its elegant lines, its flashes of light and shade, its tonality and spacial situation.

My first memory of this town is this car park and ramp. Buying a desert oasis scene for my toy soldiers from a toy shop in the connecting mall, exiting the car park down the ramp in the family car, the experience stays with me.

It stays with me. Older now, returning to my home town. Things are changed – the factories gone, the presses gone, the old pubs of snug rooms and booths full of working men and women, gone or changed beyond recognition. Along with them, the punks, mods, bikers, goths and new wavers that mixed there; talking, fighting and loving - now also gone. Now, my car park and exit ramp are going too - demolition in progress. Half the town I don’t recognize anymore.

Walk around the old places; desolate, empty buildings some of which I used to work in, comforting and solid railway bridges I walked under a thousand times, remnants of old hoists, doorways and fences, machine parts and pipes, create a strange landscape like old black and white sci-fi movie scenes. I photograph them. I walk down forgotten pathways. I walk down alleyways and back streets to the industrial estates that have roads named after the aircraft they used to make here – Lancaster, Halifax, Blenhiem. I walk around the old printing plants, look at them through rusting fences. I talk with an old lady who worked at a factory during the war. How the town has changed. How our lives have changed.

Walking
Drifting
Remembering
Taking photographs; composition over technicality, tonality over colour
Contrast
Photocopied photos – a part of the process, a part of the media, not painting from but painting with, working back through the paper with finger and water