The Reckitts chimney stands 141m tall. Located on Morley Street in Hull, it’s where Reckitts, in 1884, began making synthetic ultramarine (often known as dolly blue). Used as a laundry product, ultramarine prevents the yellowing of white fabric when it is washed and enhances the brightness of colours. It is now widely used in the cosmetics, paints and automobile industries.
Natural ultramarine was derived from ground lapis lazuli, sourced in the mountains of Afghanistan. Artists reserved the use of this expensive bright blue pigment for their most important (usually religious) works. Cennino Cennini (b. c.1370 – c. 1440) described it as “illustrious, beautiful, and most perfect, beyond all other colors”. Vermeer used natural ultramarine extensively (Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, 1663-1664). In 1828, the French chemist Jean-Baptiste Guimet developed a synthetic equivalent, which was used for example by Renoir (Les Parapluies, c. 1880), Monet (Gare St Lazare, 1877) and Pissarro (La Côte des boeufs, 1877).
For decades, the chimney pumped sulphur dioxide into Hull’s atmosphere. My grandparents lived in Stoneferry, the area in which this factory was located. I remember the sweet smells drifting from the cocoa processing plant on Cleveland Street and the hot metallic tang of the factories by the river.
(Image licensed under Creative Commons; http://www.mylearning.org/local-history-pack–a-how-to-guide/images/2-1838/)
occursus is delighted to hear that Joshua Holt, who has exhibited in two of our recent exhibitions at The Nichols Building and DLA Piper, has won the Granta tumblr photography prize for this stunning photo, taken in Sheffield.
For more information, please click here.
All photographs by Joshua Holt, 2012.
This series looks to explore ways in which the sale of sex and items of a sexual nature seem to have been pushed into peripheral areas largely free of residencies and permanent communities. Sheffield’s red light district, as well as Pulse and Cocktails ‘sex superstore’ and The Crystal Suite massage parlour are located in and around the Neepsend area, which by day is a bustling industrial area and by night is largely abandoned.
It seems that the attitude of those who have pushed such things into these areas is one of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. It is as if the city wants to lodge them far back into its subconcious and avoid dealing with them properly. These images examine the places in which sexual industries (both legal and illegal) must go about their business and the marks left by them.
Joshua Holt, 2012
Finding Paintings in Upperthorpe
On 11th April 2012, I had a wander through Upperthorpe in order to find some source material for a forthcoming exhibition. I was looking for some found paintings. That is, accidents in paint that turn my head. I’ve been collecting them for years, along with stuff that looks like sculpture. (See http://foundpaintingsandsculptures.blogspot.co.uk/
for more examples).
As I started it became apparent the Upperthorpe doesn’t have much in the way of this stuff. There are bins with hand-painted house numbers on them, but little else. I did notice that some brick walls looked like they’d been cleaned recently. They sometimes have a tell-tale scrubbed section in their centre, indicative of a graffiti clean-up team. I walked all the way up Upperthorpe to wear it touches on Walkey (and enjoyed a bagel and coffee at the New York Deli
on Commonside), before heading back downhill on Springvale Road.
It was a beautiful morning (though hail would pummel the place later on), but aside from some blossom, nothing much to photograph. I walked all the way down to the Tesco’s on Infirmary Road and then cut up through the nearby housing estate and woods (with seemingly abandoned skate bowl and five-a-side pen). It was here that I did find some stuff. On one of the green picnic tables someone had scribbled a circle in white paint and some trees nearby have pink spots sprayed onto their trunks. I’m assuming this is a death sentence of sorts. One tree had some thick pink paste on its trunk. On the housing estate I had seen the rendered wall equivalent of the scrubbed brick. Graffiti on these walls is painted over with neat, modernist, rectangles and two of these were painted on an end wall, either side of a rust stained outlet for an extractor. Perhaps accidental marks are more acceptable than deliberate ones.
I turned uphill on Fox Road and ended up back at the small parade of shops. Just before that some has amended a reflective chevron sign, probably in order to make it more dramatic in the dark. Perhaps the black was fading and no new sign as forthcoming. The image has the touch of Jasper Johns or Jim Dine, which I like.
Time was passing and I need to get back to the city centre, so I started back towards the blocks of flats. On Martin Street (or it could have been Oxford Street), I saw that someone had sprayed a radial design on the top of a bin. Erosion or something more deliberate had knocked it back, but it was still recognizable as a sympathetic piece of work. Just as I was leaving the district with only a few pictures, I noticed that – yes – someone had dropped a tin of white paint at the foot of one of the blocks. There’s always an accidental Jackson Pollock.
Whenever I’ve been out to shoot for this project I’ve used Upperthorpe as a starting point from which I am beginning to go further afield. These images were taken on a wander up towards Burngreave.
The photographic artist Joshua Holt is currently working with occursus on the plastiCities project.
Joshua Holt, ‘Richard – Brewer at Blue Bee Brewery, Neepsend’.
Joshua is one of the artists with whom occursus is working on the plastiCities (Sheffield) project.
The sky was very dark but it didn’t rain. We couldn’t find anywhere that sold Pontefract cakes but came across the Haribo factory (closed at the weekends) and, as we drove home, looping back on ourselves, the Ferrybridge cooling towers (some of which, I learned later, had collapsed in strong winds in 1965). In a shop, just outside the town, I was given a free batch of paper; in another, a knife sharpener. People are really nice here, my son said.
Joshua Holt, Upperthorpe series, January 2012
Sheffield, 2012. Ph. ACJ
There’s a special (and free) edition of Antennae, issue 8, vol. 2 (Winter 2008), entitled Pretty Ugly which
predominantly addresses the concept of ‘Pretty Ugly’ as a matter of proximity and distance between us and animals combined with a focus on the overpowering physicality that animals posses: too distant to be understood, within reach of our mouths, or far too close for comfort.
This issue of Antennae opens with a relatively light and ‘not so disturbing’ piece by artist and curator Silvia B, whose obsession for objects made of animals brings her to question the difference between humans and animals; wondering if it only is a thin layer of civilization that may account for the conviction – shared by most people – that we can turn all species into knickknacks, except our own.
Giovanni Aloi, introduction to Pretty Ugly
Please note that this edition of Antennae contains explicit imagery.
occursus is delighted to announce that one of the contributors to this volume – Rob McKay (University of Sheffield) – will be taking part in the Upperthorpe project, looking specifically at urban fauna and the relationships we share with animals.
Photographs taken in Upperthorpe by Joshua Holt