by Jade de Montserrat • June 2023. In collaboration with Drawing Room, London • Artist commission
These photographs document a performance drawing installation at Cow Syke Farm, Bransdale, in 2023. Using charcoal, the work emphasises material blackness, porosities and permeabilities in proximity to Blackness and these networked connections between racism, environmental destruction and abolitionist thinking.
Those from exempt worlds and beyond words here on the threshold each of our selves’ conduits, always staring back, with burning intensity.
Searching tributaries, in tribute.
Land and property and body holders:
William Joe Longstaff, Peggy May Timmons neé John, Patrick James Timmons, Geoffrey John Longstaff, Elizabeth May Longstaff neè Lord, Jacob Aston West.
I love you.
I honour you through my plural selves.
Your names choke my tongue around my heart and your bodies, laid to rest, live on against your will and true to my spirit.
Adèle John Longstaff your spirit may soar, but I wish not to learn, to observe only, as your spirit’s spiracles trail a gloam that ignites at a distance, happily, without fear or hurt or anguish.
I believe in you and see you well.
Guttural, from the belly breath
filled breath and full from sleep
I am actioning
I take action
aided by this Iron Age process.
This pregnant mound, this site ready for birthing black.
It is very hard to let go without shedding tears, screwing up our faces and choked by the crumpling around the gullet, chest and breastplate.
Imagine that as glazed ceramics came to be used, so too charcoal, making burning wood in a controlled way a necessity for glass, clay pots and any metalwork.
Imagine Tutankhamun’s meteoric iron dagger strapped up in gold, out of this world, they say. And the bright lights and scorched fingers, the escapade and determination, the knowledge and connection to realms beyond what was visible. And the Gods knew of the need today, of the thirst and of creation, of the earth fucking-over and strangled inhalation, the need for a return to new knowledge. To smelt the iron they must have had charcoal, the element that draws together this
For hazel and sycamore and birch and oak and rowan and willow.