A History of Unnecessary Developments

Here is a record of my exhibition with my friend and long term collaborator, poet S J Fowler, which was on between 18th April – 2nd May 2021 at Willesden Gallery London.

Despite the fact that not many people got to see it, given we are still in the midst of various restrictions, it was a pleasure to be involved in, to have a space to work in and work with, to be able to put on a small number of super tiny events…

It was a step towards a more multi-layered existence and as such, it came accompanied by a sense of growing freedom.

Here are some still and moving images to keep a record of this.

Tereza Stehlikova:

When considering a gallery exhibition in relation to the Disappearing Wormwood (2020) film I became interested in the surrealist technique of frottage. This simple method of rubbing a charcoal over a piece of paper enabled me to literally transfer some of the unique textures and qualities of this overlooked in-between land onto paper. Frottage is a perfect technique to archive a place and keep it alive: It is precisely these textures, imperfections, uneven surfaces, blemishes and hidden tactile treasures that give a place its sense of identity, embodied memory, history. In this case, these are also the features which are in danger of being wiped away because of a big regeneration project, making Wormwood generic, uniform…amnesiac.

The frottage was made over a period of several days and together with a group of fellow artists and local residents. This sort of collaborative creative process is an important part of my artistic practice and methodology, as is my interest in the sense of touch.

Works on display:

Willesden Junction underpass (wall), frottage

Display Cabinet: objects unearthed in Wormwood

Willesden Junction Underpass, frottage

Grand Union Canal (path), frottage

Wormwood, 2021, series of original frottage prints available for £25 each. Please contact me: tereza.stehlikova@network.rca.ac.uk

Mapping Wormwood, frottage collage which includes Willesden Junction underpass, trainspotter’s bridge, Hythe road, Grand Union Canal (ground and walls)

Hythe Road (pavement outside Cargiant), frottage

Here is an animated version of the textures, which i made just before I took my work down:

SJ Fowler:

Made for this exhibition, these large-scale, hand-made poems depict abstract, cartographic explorations of Willesden Junction and Willesden Green, alongside cartoonish imaginary creatures that reside in the environs, who act as guides or avatars for psychogeographic exploration.

This series of works in the asemic writing and art-poetry tradition, fields SJ Fowler has pioneered in the UK since 2011. These pieces continue Fowler’s exploration of text and colour, space and time, handwriting, abstraction, illustration, sound, mess and motion – affirming the possibilities of a rough, deliberately off hand, post-CoBrA group aesthetic for the decidedly literary poem.

Works on display:

The length of Harrow Road (Crayon on paper, 2020)

The local tooth (Acrylic paint and Indian ink on paper, 2021)

The flood of catholics at Kensal green (Indian ink on paper, 2021)

The Willesden Dragon (Indian ink on paper, 2021)

The map of Willesden Junction (Indian ink on paper, 2021)

The Bean Demon / Upwards Drip or Library Asemic (Indian ink on paper, 2021)

Find out more at www.stevenjfowler.com/developments

Disappearing Wormwood, 2020 (58 min) film by Tereza Stehlikova & S J Fowler

A cinematic witnessing of London living through aberrant, awkward, ugly change, but mostly dying in the process. Filmed over the last half decade, exploring the overlooked aesthetic power of Willesden Junction, Wormwood scrubs, Kensal Green Cemetery and The Grand Union Canal, the film strives to see a closer place, alien, idiosyncratic and yet familiar. It enters into dialogue with its genius loci, capturing and preserving on camera and in word, before it is transformed beyond recognition by the notorious incoming Old Oak redevelopment. It celebrates a particularly charged area of London, a forgotten in-between zone, a sprawling web of canals, railway lines, bridges, tunnels, pedestrian path, workmen’s cafes, graves and open spaces with large expanses of polluted skies… It is a place we find ourselves in, rather than seek out, walking alleys, terrified of being as absent as. The film is a kind of ritual, often meandering, meditative, limping from documentary to invention, minimalism to maximalism, starting without an exact goal, propelled by the joy of simply being in a place, not knowing where it might take us.

More information about the exhibition is here: https://cinestheticfeasts.com/2021/04/01/wormwood-project-continues/

Finally one of the live events, which took place on 26th April, can be watched on IGTV:

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