Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) as part of For cover (1/3)

Walnut tree of touch (a potential blanket) is a installation, consisting of a set of double-sided printed cyanotypes (36 sheets of Moleskine Cahier, 28x36cm), piled up and held on top with a hand-sized pebble in a heart-shape. They are placed on top of a closed manual sewing machine (Phoenix 355) with tressel and in a mid-century wooden table form. The front drawing is opened out and it reveals an assortment of sewing utensils: needles, spools, yarn. The work is place on a spring meadow, amid some grasses and white wild flowers. The v-belt of the machine is hanging slack, the plug for the electric lamp is hanging half-way down to the foot pedal.

This work was printing across October 2020 on the mature walnut tree in my parents’ garden. I had experimented with a series of cyanotype printing processes using hedges, trees, leaves etc. and different papers. The Moleskine Cahiers has been my go-to sketchbook for a few years, the thin, heavily-sized paper offers a translucency, rubs and transfers easily, and holds notes and sketches effortlessly. I experimented with single-layers, and single-sided prints. The double-layered double-sided prints I settled on take the paper to its physical limit: the washing of the exposed prints requires attention not to destroy the paper, it dries well and reveals the tears and cracks in close-up. (I would coat a single-side twice, exposure, fix and dry and then coat the second side twice)

The printing was using pegs to fix the paper to low-hanging leaves and branches, the intensity of the sun variable, the exposure time generally between 20-45 minutes), some were printed during high winds, some gathered rain. I placed a few on the ground, some flipped in the process, exposing the back, one I forgot overnight. In some the chemistry disentangled (or perhaps reacted differently with the paper’s seizing?).

For a long time I considered this a gallery-based 2-D curtain, reconstructing the tree in the centre of a room, Im Walde as wall-based installation surrounding it. Over the course of the coming months care and maintenance became themes of all these works and my stay here. I explored ways of building a curtain, sewing air into it, make it see-through, perhaps it could be a quilt, but how could I sew in negative space, make it malleable, make it possible to disassemble, keep modular and unimpaired?

I experimented with paper clips and pegs to make a make-shift shape to cover myself, and was content with that as a possibility, so the pile of prints contains that potential, it can be enacted.

The digital version has a sound piece alongside it. Here I developed what I had been calling Instructions to Touch as time-based portrait, as narration of the process of making in at once strongly chronological form (the numbers point to the chronology of narrating) and yet fragmented (as I would delete and edit the narration).

I installed Walnut Tree on 15 May and had in on site for a couple of hours, to explore its siting, reach and resonance. We played the audio through the phone speakers, it is currently in English, the language in which I art, for the site this however does not make sense. And perhaps the contextualisation isn’t necessary for the encounter in situ.

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