Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Crossbones/GHost II

On Friday the 18th December I am showing my film Crossbones as part of GHost II, a night of artist films, performance and moving image interventions in St John's Church, Bethnal Green.

The event takes place from 6pm to 10pm, and screenings commence at 7.30pm.
St John's Church is opposite Bethnal Green tube, at 200 Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA.

Crossbones: an unconsecrated graveyard where from medieval times prostitutes and other marginalised people have been buried.  Now, some of the bodies have been exhumed and the ground lies derelict.  But a shrine to the memory of these long dead people has emerged on the fence around the ground.  Ephemeral memorials of ribbon and paper remember the thousands buried here, and mark more recent deaths, including the murdered Ipswich prostitutes.

2 minutes 16 seconds
Colour and sound

 GHost II 
curated by Sarah Sparkes and Ricarda Vidal

Join us for the Return of GHost!
A night of artist films, performances and moving image interventions to celebrate the darkest days of the season and to welcome in the ghosts that inhabit them. With moving image installations around the foyer and belfry and a screening of artist films on a movie-sized screen in the nave.
Plus, as a finale a screening of Mario Bava's 1963 classic, 'I tre volti della paura: La goccia d'acqua’.
And, of course,Mulled wine and minced pies!

With: Glenn Church, Jo Wonder, Geraldine Swayne, Daisy Delaney, Sinead Wheeler, Magnus Irving, Sarah Doyle, Tessa Garland, Lisa Fielding Smith, Gail Burton, Rebecca Feiner, Sam Treadaway, Katja Tukiainen, Sarah Breen Lovett, Calum F Kerr, Richard Mansfield, Mikey Georgeson, Fernando Cestari, Reverend Marc Vaulbert de Chantilly, Anne Charlotte Morgenstein, Andrew Graves-Johnston, Geoff and the Daughters of Moroni, Miyuki Kasahara, Jo David, Julian Wakeling, Derek Jordan, and David Buckley on the ORGAN

Visit our website for more info: host-a-ghost or join our Facebook group.

With thanks to St John’s Church on Bethnal Green, the Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies (University of London), Betting on Shorts, Paul Dillon, Jonathon McKay, and Intellect Books

Some more of my Crossbones pictures:

Thursday, 19 November 2009

DUST at Hovel

Here is a sample of pictures from DUST, my exhibition/intervention at Hovel in Camberwell, South London in 2009.

For full details about DUST, including visiting times and the DUST Pamphlet, please see the earlier posts below.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

DUST Haircutting Performance

For the private view of DUST I gave a Haircutting Performance.

The performance was unnanounced, taking place in the living room of Hovel, amidst the exhibition.

From the DUST Table Collection I removed a reel of white cotton, a pair of hairdressing scissors and a pile of tiny brown envelopes. I then pulled forward the chair, which was against the wall. I sat, in silence, and put the envelopes on the floor to my right, the thread and scissors on my lap. I then separated a lock of hair from my head, took the scissors and cut it off. I bound the end of the lock of hair with thread, and tied it. I leant forward, picked up an envelope from the pile, and placed the lock inside it; licked and sealed the envelope. I then placed it to my left, on the floor. I repeated this process, cutting locks from my hair and placing them in an envelope, forming a pile of filled envelopes. The process was slow and laborious; it was unclear how long it would take to complete the task. From time to time I shuffled through the filled envelopes, counting and neatening the pile. The people present watched in silence and stillness. The sound from two films in the exhibition played, repeating; sounding like waves, water, or sometimes trains. When I had cut enough hair locks to create a substantial pile of envelopes, and consequently had altered the appearance of my hair, I counted through the filled envelopes. I put down the cotton thread, scissors and unused envelopes, rose from the chair, then gave an envelope containing a lock of my hair to each person in the room.

Here are some still frames from a film of the performance.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

DUST table collection

Heap/Hole film
White flower
Two small keys...
Stone with hole
Dust and fluff
Plastic twist
Wire/flex fragment
Tiny envelopes
Cassette tape fragment
Used Rawl plug
Text on cardboard
Broken spectacles
'Road gems'/broken glass
Headache pill packaging
Ink drawings...

...crumpled paper
Broken plaster sculpture - ankles
DUST pamphlet with ribbon
Dust ball from the floor...

DUST - some pictures

Some pictures from DUST, in the living room - see earlier posts for details of the exhibition

Ink on paper, oil on canvas, watercolour, printed text.

DUST - Artificial Limbs

Some pictures from DUST at Hovel.

Ink on paper

Saturday, 31 October 2009

DUST at Hovel

Gail Burton
The sixth intervention by an individual artist at Hovel

Exhibition open from Saturday 7th November until Sunday 22nd November 2009
Private View on Sunday 8th November, 4pm to 8pm
Opening hours:
Saturday and Sunday 12 to 6pm
Weekdays by appointment
Hovel is located in Camberwell, South London. For the address, or to make an appointment to visit, please phone 020 7703 6337 or email

Dust, the Victorian term for all manner of waste or rubbish: a valuable substance that told the story of the lives that produced it; a heap to be carefully categorised and searched through; a point in a process. For the sixth intervention at Hovel, Gail Burton has created a collection of paintings and mixed media works exploring the connections between looking (looking for, looking at), the unseen and memorialisation. A narrative of dirt, of contemporary London's invisible dust-economy, interweaves with portraits of long dead people, painted from miniature Victorian photographs on mourning jewellery. The names of the Victorians who mourned, and were mourned, are lost, but their images connect us to the act of remembering. As a traditional ballad, 'The Housewife's Lament' sings 'There's nothing that lasts us but trouble and dirt'. Dust and dirt remember us; we live on in unseen ways.

Friday, 30 October 2009

DUST Pamphlet

As part of my intervention at Hovel I produced a pamphlet entitled 'DUST'. The pamphlet contains a sequence of short texts I have written regarding the bin scavengers, whom I have observed, and other reflections on filth. The text is interspersed with illustrations, which connect my observations of dirt and searching with loss and memorialisation. The pamphlet is A5 size, printed on 95g acid free paper and is hand stitched. It is printed in an open edition, each copy signed and numbered.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Hovel Residency

For the next two weeks I am undertaking a residency for Hovel, a project created in a domestic space in Camberwell, South London. My residency will result in an intervention in the space, culminating in an exhibition. I have been preparing for my intervention by creating a series of paintings, which respond to a collection of Victorian mourning jewellery, and developing ideas of the rubbish heap, both of 'olden' and contemporary times. I will post full details of the exhibition, when my residency is underway.

In the meantime, I would like to announce that the exhibition will open on Saturday the 7th of November 2009, until Sunday the 22nd November, and there will be a private view on Sunday the 8th of November, from 4pm until 8pm. Feel free to email me for further information at

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Fig Rolls and never never never

I drew this tissue drawing for the Honesty Box during the Arnold Circus Sharing Picnic - perhaps with thoughts of the strata revealed in the Arnold Circus dig (in recent weeks the mound of the bandstand has been subject to a small archaeological excavation) - but certainly not as an invective against Fig Rolls! The Fig Rolls were my contribution to the picnic - see previous posts for more information about the Arnold Circus Picnic, and other Brown Food.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Boundary Estate Tissues

Here are two of the tissue drawings I made for the Honesty Box at Arnold Circus. They refer to the fact that tenants from the Old Nichol slum area, which was cleared to make way for the new Boundary Estate in the 1890s, where Arnold Circus became the centrepiece, were not rehoused in the new improved accomodation, as originally planned. Instead they were dipersed into the surrounding area, often back into overcrowded conditions. Ever since the Boundary Estate was built, as radical new public housing, which was innovative and high quality in design, there have been attempts to remove it from public ownership. This vulnerability echoes from the time when the original dwellers of the areas were displaceced , as they were not wealthy enough for the new estate. Although it was low cost, it was not low enough for the very poor.

Honesty Box at Arnold Circus

On Sunday 26th July 2009 I did an Honesty Box, with Clare Qualmann, at Arnold Circus on the Boundary Estate in London, for the Friends of Arnold Circus Annual Sharing Picnic. Here are a few photos of the event - there are lots more photos of this and previous Honesty Boxes on the Honesty Box website, as well as a full log of the Honesty Box at Arnold Circus.

We placed the Honesty Box on the second tier of Arnold Circus.

The Pavilion Brass Band played in the Bandstand, making lovely melancholy of a diverse range of tunes. Then there was folk music for the rest of the day, on the bandstand mound, and later inside the bandstand. Some of the musicians were Mariah Harris, Emil Brynge and David Wegne, and an impromptu performance from Sam Lee. Their music was beautiful and moving. It was poignant in the conditions of rain and the damaged , derelict bandstand - their music personalised the space of Arnold Circus, bringing a sense of other stories and histories to layer onto it, and catch or chime with my own; the music's transience felt appropriate given the fragility of the bandstand, and the estate's continuing histories; something that I could only 'hold on to' for myself. Some of the musicians appreciated the drawings, which was nice, as although Honesty Box is always an experiment, and however people respond (or don't respond) to it, is part of that experiement, it can make me feel sad when it is ignored or abused. I hope that something of the thoughts and stories and images that were expressed on the tissues worked their way into the history and story of Arnold Circus in the 'leafing through' that they underwent, as a few people inspected the Honesty Box.

In the late afternoon we moved the Honesty Box into the bandstand as it was raining quite heavily. (It had been spitting on and off all day).
Arnold Circus bandstand is usually painted green, but it has now been painted black, perhaps to conceal fire damage...

...the roof of the bandstand is badly fire damaged after the recent arson attack.

My Brown Food contribution to the 'Sharing Picnic'. Scroll down to have a look at other Brown Food in my previous blog entries.

Sam Lee and Ukelele player/singer, performing in the bandstand, at the end of the day, when it was raining and most people had gone home.

Here's Arnold Circus Bandstand in 2007, when I was campaigning to save the Boundary Estate from being privatised - it is a Council Estate and the council attempted to sell/give it away to a Housing Association, which would have removed it from public ownership forever. The bandstand is in the centre of the Boundary Estate and I and other residents used it as a meeting place during our campaign.