Blood on the windows and blood on the walls,
Blood on the ceiling and down in the halls,
And the papers keep downing on everything I burned,
And the people getting restless but they'll never learn.
John Cale - Gun
John Cale - Gun
A while back - in February when I was in the middle of moving house - I received an email from someone whom I admire very much indeed: Boris Bally. In it, he invited me to be part of a show in which we would all be sent a deactivated weapon and would have to make a piece of work from that weapon, the IMAGINE PEACE NOW! show.
Subsequently the gun arrived and a slight panic set in.
Firstly, I had a strange reaction to the weapon: I knew that it had come from Pittsburgh Police and I knew that it had been seized as part of their normal business of preventing crime and I couldn't quite bring myself to handle something which had potentially terrorised and had maybe even killed someone. Now, I am not 'pussy' about guns: I used to shoot game and legally owned a small 18th C. Spanish-made shotgun, but there is a big difference between the controlled and legal shooting of an animal for food and the misery or death of a human being.
Secondly, I was very, very uncomfortable about the idea of what might happen if someone saw me with this and reported it to the police here... would I find myself in the workshop, surrounded by armed officers? As the government increasingly sows fear of terrorists - which, frankly, I view as a control measure for the population, not a threat of anything like the magnitude we are being told - this was a very real concern.
Paul Evans, our head technician at the School of Jewellery was brilliant with all of this and helped me to write up a very sensible Health and Safety Risk Assessment aimed at minimising the risk. The local police in the Jewellery Quarter police station were also fantastic and inspected the weapon and paperwork to ensure it was all in order.
Next up was deciding what to do with it and I decided to revisit an idea from some time ago which will require me to work with the parts of the gun, slicing up the barrel and chambers, for which I had hoped to use the water-jet cutter in the University workshops, however, this would mean losing 0.8mm of material with every pass and a conversation with Kevin Gray at last week's opening of the Circulus show pointed the way forward: behind his workshop is a tiny engineering works with a spark-erosion wire-cutter.
|The gun in pieces.|
I love finding these little places tucked away in the back lanes of the Jewellery Quarter.
These last sheets of steel have been cut with the wire-cutter. It will have no problem with my gun!
I finished a pendant for my colleaugue, Rachael Colley. She brought me the nail and I did the rest:
This was also my first time working with Argentium silver, which is not without its issues for those of us who are more used to working with sterling. I did, however, get it to fuse directly to some steel...
The students are all preparing for the end of term - is that really a full academic year I've been at the School of Jewellery?! - and the graduate shows, which I am looking forward to enormously.
|Preparing the exhibition space.|
The week ended rather nicely with a concert in the soon-to-be-demolished Adrian Boult Hall at the Birmingham Conservatoire. The excellent Birmingham Contemporary Music Group were performing a programme which included the quite lovely "Rothko Chapel" by Morton Feldman for choir, percussion, viola and celeste.
The programme was mixed with a lot of music by one of the professors of composition at the Conservatoire, Howard Skempton - the music of whom I can take or leave - and one remarkable piece by Charlotte Bray for piano and 'cello, based on the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Perseus constellation.
I will leave you with the calming loveliness of the Feldman.