Splacism is a contemporary mode of practice, proposed by Paul Conneally. Hannah Nicklin and Nikki Pugh are two artists that have adopted this new practice by defining a new set of ideologies, check out there manifesto. Following on from the Situationist International movement, that understood the city in fragments and emotions.
On a cold December night without knowing what to expect. I attended the event titled Dust, to learn about the Splacist practice. As a group we were advised to think about space, place and splice – wine was on hand to help things along! This is my story of the night.
Arriving at Made Office in the Jewellery Quarter, we were each given a piece of paper showing a map of the area (a little less crumpled than the one below). It was intended for us to walk a route to Vyse Street car park, taking in the
surroundings and in particular the things we don’t normally look for. For instance the “texture of the metal against your fingers when you pressed the button on that pedestrian crossing”.
Walking through the Jewellery Quarter was pleasent, admiring a hidden gem that rarely anyone gets too see when visiting Birmingham. However, my habit (looking at architecture for too long) kicked in and gave me the sense that I had failed this part of evening already! We arrived at the top of multi-storey car park where we met with wind, rain and white wine, whilst Nikki talked about the next part of the evening.
Chatting and pondering with people about the things to follow, we were grouped up in pairs to start the first task. Taken over to Hannah’s car, we were given a GPS type device, interpreted as a ‘dust ball’ (more on that later). Interestingly, when asked to walk a route we were instructed to direct the device at particular points on the skyline (office block, apartment) in order to ‘pick up’ pre-recorded messages of individuals in the area. This was as if you had
amazing hearing, being able to listen in on conversations and events going on in the city that you would not normally hear or see. Sort of like what Superman can do! This creative exercise helped to portray places – fragments of the city that we don’t normally encounter.
The time had come when the rain was too heavy for us to stay in the open. We began our descent down to level 3 where we were sheltered from the rain but never too far from the wind! Hannah gave us a talk about their artistic response to the Splacist Manifesto. This involved us going around the car park and picking up dust motes (balls of plaster) that reflect fragments of the city: memories;secrets; moments lost; dropped; found; discovered and gifted.
Walking around the car park to find dust motes? It was interesting the way in which we interacted with the surroundings. We realised that our intentions have an effect on how we use and view an area: how we inhabit a space and interact with the architecture. For me the night was a total success, Pugh and Nicklin made us really question how we exist within a space, and in turn how we define space. In their words:
“We are everything that a city is, that cannot be reduced to a map or a single path through a place”.
If you want to learn more about this practice and get a deeper insight into how it’s done make sure you the artists websites: