Listen to me talking about my journal ‘Limbo’ and recordings with William English on his programme ‘Wavelength’. The programme was broadcast on 28 July 2017 and can be heard via williamenglish.com choose Wavelength then Yearly Archives 2017 28 July Limbo.
Limbo is a journal written over a period of ten years, consisting of diary-like entries written after a weekly or bi-weekly visit from London-Leicester to visit my Mother. The 10 year journal amounts to 2,000 pages or 4 days worth of readings.
The repeated journeys, repetition of each visit, together with the movement from city to city, gave the work an ‘engine’ a dynamism. I wanted to retain this as a one-take experience. The text was written up from notes written on each visit, but there was no embellishment, changing, working on the text or what I can ‘baroquifying’. The text needed to be plain and true. The text which I subsequently recorded is read warts and all, all faults. Writing up the journal in a rush as close to the experience as possible is what I wanted. So there are grammatical errors, tense, etcetera, but these are part of that rushed lived exeperience. When I first started the journal, I wrote up the notes as quickly as I could, as I needed to remember as much as I could, what had happened, what was happening. It’s raw and hopefully true. Now, several years later, I wanted to reenergise the text which has led to me reading in environments associated with the visits ie on the train, on both St Pancras and Leicester stations and at the Curve theatre in Leicester. Taking the work back home to its roots as it were. In this way, the journal is brought back home making Limbo as much about place as time. The public environment with its ambient sounds reduces the content of the journal from being too personal and, instead of recording in a quiet, dead space, reading in a more public renvironment gives the work more life. There is something sad and strange about revisiting, by reading, events which took place some years earlier too. There’s a strange psychology to this. The repetition. The insistence on revisiting. Of reading something that happened before. Reading made me realise several things including just how skilled actors are. The voice is something which needs proper training and exercising. I discovered how exhausting it is to read and read…
Linear Obsessional Live at The Arts Cafe, January 8, 2017
Experimental Music and visuals in a park in Lewisham with…
Legendary late 90’s audio/visual group
play their first gig for 15 years! Phil Durrant,
Kev Hopper and Richard Sanderson (Music)
Rob Flint – (Live Video) Something of an event!
Japanese vocalist, improviser and electronics user Atsuko Kamura’s extraordinary solo project, in which the ex Frank Chickens member uses mutated voices, eco-fabulism and agit-femme chansons to create a
cabaret from another planet. Not to be missed. NEW ALBUM OUT NOW on Linear Obsessional Recordings
Independent filmmaker and broadcaster (“Wavelength” on Resonance FM since 2005) William English presents a short programme of his own thoughtful and unique films including ‘What Did You Eat Today’ made with Sandra Cross and featuring Hugh de la Cruz. The first in the WDYET series.
AARON HORLOCK & MEGAN BISHOP
Classical guitarist Horlock and violinist Megan Bishop play
Astor Piazzolla’s “Café 1930” and Aaron plays music by
Cuban avant-gardist Leo Brouwer
The Catford dadaist ,outsider artist and audio collagist presents a new text piece. Possibly expect menus, local government pamphlets trash novels, random cut-ups. Expect nothing.
The Wavelength Roadshow: a benefit for Resonance FM starring Bob Parks & The Bloomsbury Group
The Wavelength Roadshow is a special live outing by Resonance FM’s long-running ‘Programme of multiple agendas’ hosted by broadcaster, film-maker (Heated Gloves) and bookseller William English. As part of Resonance’s Annual Fundraiser, which runs all this week, the Roadshow stars cult performance artist Bob Parks (subject of BBC Four’s extraordinary The R & B Feeling) performing with his conceptual R & B band The Bloomsbury Group. Special guests are Adham Fisher, extreme commuter and stand up DJ; David Leister, film-maker extraordinaire, presenting his movie ‘Blinder’, with slideshow by DJ Hybridist. Out-takes of ‘Heated Gloves’ (featuring the late Captain Maurice Seddon) presented by William English. Voodoo ritual by Bob Parks.
At Kansas Smitty’s Jazz Bar, 63-65 Broadway Market, London E8 4PH, Monday 13 February 2017 at 7pm, £10
‘Limbo’ seen on the left-hand wall at StudionAme
Long view of ‘Limbo’ at StudionAme
Summer Art Trail 2016 is a ten-day (August 20-29) contemporary visual arts festival, a vibrant programme of exhibitions, residencies, performances, music and family workshops. Part of the City Festival which celebrates Leicester in the heart of the City for ten days.
The Trail is orchestrated by Silver Vine Arts, a non-profit, artist led, community interest organisation.
I was lucky enough to have two works chosen for this year’s Summer Art Trail.
‘Limbo’ a large colour photograph showing at StudionAme,2 Broughton Street, Leicester.
‘Limbo’ is a largely text-based work featuring a ten year journal, supported by film, photographs, sound and various artefacts. The subject is my Mother, ‘Probable Alzheimer’s’, loss of memory, time and place.
‘Leaving’ trio of light boxes, chronicles the unintentional choreography of mass movement represented by the ubiquitous bag on wheels. A symbol of restless coming and going. A current form of mass observation.
The light boxes can be seen in the window of the LCB Depot’s LightBox Gallery 31 Rutland Street, Leicester.
LightBox Gallery at LCB Depot
William photographing ‘Leaving’ light boxes
‘Leaving’ light boxes in window at LCB”s LightBox with shadows of me and buildings behind
Extracts from ‘Limbo’ a continuous journal 2006-
I see her face reflected in the wing mirror. All of the harsh observations I have made and will continue to make, are swept away as I see her face go through a series of gentle transformations from sad and lost to hopeful as the sun warms her skin.
Back at the house. All the curtains are drawn and every door to every room, closed shut. It feels and smells like a lonely place.
Food arrives and there is no indication that the food placed before her is in any way different to that which she thought she had ordered less than ten minutes previously.
We have been coming to this cafe every Saturday and some week days for months. I draw her attention to the changes by way of trying to engage her in the here and now, the less abstract place where she normally seems to reside, the faraway and long ago and the possibly somewhere altogether specific to her alone.
attosecond femtosecond picosecond nanosecond microsecond millisecond second minute hour day week fortnight lunar month month quarte year common year leap year tropical year gregorian year olympiad lustrum decade indiction generation jubilee century millenium
Images from ‘Limbo’ Bus Stop/Time series
Mainly I’m ringing so that she feels connected to someone as well as checking to see that everything is alright, that her day went okay, was manageable, emotionally and practically. To see if she has any problems. I’m also listening for any signs of change in behaviour or speech. Or anything really.
races through her
wracking it with
where she is
the cries rise up
out of her
quaking body like
fraction of time
known only to
All images and text: Sandra Cross 2006-
Mother’s Day March 15 2015
Blue nails February 21, 2015
Hope March 7, 2015
Changing October 23, 2013
Gift November 6, 2013
Willow November 16, 2013
Swollen January 10 2014
Before going out to Rearsby to visit M, I pass, as so often, through the reassuring arms of M & S. Today, February 28, the rails are full of really uplifting colours and patterns. The look is Spring. As I walk through the garments, I feel a surge of warmth and wish that Mum could experience this. She would love to wander and drink in the splendour of the new and colourful. When I reach Rearsby, I see nature’s signs of seasonal change. There are little clumps of daffodils just coming through on the verges of the main road. I’ve switched my routine intentionally today. I need to create changes where I can. Visiting in the morning, just after 10.45 means that not only are the duty staff different but the residents’ mood is too. Not because of the staff, because of the time of day. Lyndsey greets me and mentions the time difference. There’s a group of four residents playing dominoes with a volunteer at a table in the centre of the sitting room. The sounds of people saying: ‘I’ve got a one and a blank,’together with the gentle chatter which accompanies the game, is really pleasing. Lyndsey brings a chair over. Mum has a strawberry milkshake. She’s pleased to see me and when I leave the room temporarily and return to her side, she says: ‘I didn’t expect to see you today.’ Mum’s language and being are like this today. She struggles in places and in others is sharp and exact. She wants to draw my attention to something on the other side of the room and in so doing, upends the milkshake in her hand all over her big blue cardigan. Lyndsey takes this off asking me if I’ll be taking it away with me to wash. Yes, I will, and brings some more milkshake over for Mum. I go to M’s room and get her lovely striped cardigan and a scarf. As I help Mum into this, she says what lovely colours the cardigan is made up of. ‘Thank you dear,’ Mum says once I’ve buttoned up the front for her. For the next hour and a half Mum refers to me repeatedly as Sandra. The magazine we’re looking through is, I think, called BLUE – Mum’s favourite colour. ‘Beautiful head of hair. Beautiful woman,’ says Mum ever-appreciative of attractiveness in all its guises. The magazine is a mix of clothing for men, women and children, together with all sorts of household items. When we reach a photograph of a bed and Mum says: ‘Looks nice and comfortable,’ or some such. I counter with: ‘Do you sleep well?’ I hardly ever ask Mum questions because I assume that it won’t go anywhere. Today, in answer to this question Mum says something that almost knocks me over. ‘Not unless I’m with Bill.’ Mum hasn’t mentioned Dad’s name for I don’t know how long, but there he is, keeping her warm and safe at night. We’re looking at a small boy in the magazine. ‘You’ve never had any more have you?’ Mum asks as though I’m one of her sisters I imagine asking if I’ve had another child. We stop to look at a young girl. ‘I like the whole child’s appearance.’ Every photo ellicits a memory or feeling. ‘There’s some handsome girls aren’t there.’ A couple of close-ups of a model’s face and eye make-up in particular has M reading out the title of the piece: ‘All About Blue’ adding her own: ‘There’s some good eyes there.’ Meaning the make-up’s applied well. I ask Mum if she’s hungry, just having overheard a carer telling a resident what’s for lunch. I mention the dish to M: roast turkey, roast potatoes, parsnips and green beans. The domino-playing lady said she’d rather not have parsnips. Later on, I mentioned lunch again and Mum says: ‘Oh yes. Well I try to do…’ I don’t know what the next part of what she said was, but she is suggesting that she looks after her own meals. Another first for a long time came when Mum said to me, perhaps imagining me to be one of her sisters: ‘I wonder what my Dad’s doing whilst you’re out.’ The magazine is open at a double page spread. On one side is a woman, on the other, a huge image of a tube of make-up. Mum says something scrambled like: ‘They had such going on when they were young…’I enter into her mindspace with: ‘Do you know them then?’ ‘Well yes, I know them,’ Mum suggests. Horace opposite rises from his seat. Mum, not missing a beat says: ‘Old boy getting up!’ This mis-match in time, ie Mum not realising that Horace and she are probably the same age is further confused by a description of Ron, who must be of a similar vintage. ‘That fella’s gone to sleep!’ I say he’s having a snooze before lunch. ‘Poor thing!’ M says mock-sarcastically. ‘What will he do when he gets older?’ Annie reaches out for a zimmer. She’s sitting next to Mum who bats Annie’s hand away without actually touching it. Annie wonders what is going on. The situation is sorted out by Lyndsey. Annie had said: ‘I’m doing my best but…’ Sweet Annie said to M: ‘What did you say?’ Mum in her best teacher voice said: ‘Very little!’ Doris is to my left. I hear her say: ‘I want to go home now.’ Strangely, from the TV nest, I hear a woman talking about the house she lived or lives in to another woman. I turn to look at the TV and see striped bands across the screen. The volume is very low too. Grape lady Bet and her reclining companion are seated behind us. ‘Where’s my bag to put this (scarf) in.’ Handbag! I haven’t heard this word for I don’t know how long. It used to be the bane of M’s life. Mum reaches down and very politely and slightly, looks inside my bag and then stops. Doris is on her way to the loo with two carers, each one holds one of Doris’ hands. Mum, looking at Doris from the rear says: ‘They’re helping that young man to make sure he’s alright. Well at least that’s what it looks like to me.’ ‘You’ve done your bit have you?’ Mum asks me after I’ve written something in my notebook. ‘Do you want to have a look?’ I ask Mum about the Waitrose mag. ‘Thank you Sandra. I had a look before!’ Brilliant – a memory. Then scrambled again with: ‘Look at her with the kids in there!’ A photograph of a woman with a bike and a basket full of roses which Mum is taking to be babies?? Back on track with an observation of a model looking very alluring in DKNY underwear. ‘There’s a youngster well undressed. They have some nice clothes don’t they!’ said quite voluntarily, no stimulation from me. It’s approaching lunchtime and residents are becoming active. Able-bodied types make their own way to various tables. Others are winched and delivered to table. Staff are really pressed, practically running at certain points when a wobbly type tries to get up aided and they happen to be doing something else at the time. May/Marjorie 2 is leaning on her zimmer with her head down saying: ‘Close that kitchen door.’ ‘Doris! Doris!’ Lyndsey runs across the room to help Doris. She gets her to sit in a wheelchair which Doris doesn’t like at all and gets a bit angry about. Once settled at the table, Doris starts to move again and another carer calls: ‘Doris! Darling! I’m coming. Can you sit down please!’ Doris had been at a table making her funny noise which she does to amuse and engage people. The phone is ringing. Carers are hard-pressed. I tell Mum that I will be going now. ‘Ok love,’ she says and ‘Take care’ before adding: ‘Take him with you!’ She’s referring to her most prized dog/duck who she is normally so protective of and doesn’t like others to touch. I kiss Mum and tell her I’ll be back soon. Extremely pressed carer whose name I don’t know, runs to answer the phone before letting me out.
Collage by Sandra Cross showing a Sailors’ Diet in 1615 and a suggested diet for all, circa early 21st century
Anna Magnanini, Rome 23.11.1963
Photo: Larry Shaw
Cooks Hall plaque Aldersgate Street London.
Photo: Sandra Cross 2012