Janet Tryner Fine Artist

Thursday, 4 May 2023

Ground Level

I don’t want to hug trees, they can’t move, they can’t give permission, so it isn’t a two way hug. I am taking. It lacks manners. BUT there is place where they come to me, into my world. Where parts of their bodies are washed into a world we can both access equally, on the ground where our bodies intermingle. This is the level ground - ground level - where we can have our conversations at equal standing. Speechless conversation.

Sunday, 5 March 2023

Mapping Sloughing

I'm taking MA Contemporary Art & Archaeology part-time. My attention has been taken up with lots of writing in a journal and not so much on the blog. It has been very absorbing and helpful in my practice. Leading me to think about the found object collections I make and subsequent assemblage works as a kind of conceptual mapping. Not in any way topographical or geographical representations of space, but how feelings about being in certain spaces and how this related to how I thought the objects I found gathered together.

For my recent open studio I constructed a hanging hoizontal grid and played around with a couple of older collections I'd made quite near the studio. Mapping, now realigned, enabled things in the map to relate to each other as well as to my memory of how I found them. Different species of maple leaves were kept apart, pine needles formed a row like the row of pine trees alongside the trainline from whence they came, plastic headphone casing cradled smashed headlight plastic because I thought of how that might sound that whenever I saw them. But there were visual groupings that related only to each other - circles and colour related maps that were woven into the whole - where I was thinking about those collecting walks, archaeologists call them 'walkover surveys', where the first thing I'd picked up became set a key for all the other things I was drawn to subsequently.

Adding an Arduino powered servo which hit the grid repeatedly made all the things move and shimmer and I amused myself during the day with adding more things and changing the tempo of the servo. It didn't take much might to make everything in the grid move just a little bit - some pushed a little each time until they fell off. 

I seemed to have re-attuned myself over the day. That night I didn't sleep well, constantly visualising little bits of stuff vibrating. Kept catching sight of things possibly moving out of the corner of my eye. Fortunately it only lasted one night!

Since this, I've been thinking more about mapping and specific experience of place. I've been limiting my collections to one walkover and then seeing what I can make. This has co-incided with the seasonal dropping of tree and shrub twigs - they dropped their leaves in January - which is fine material to make grids with. I have dogwood, birch and mistletoe. And I've gone back to using scanners as a way to document and create further grids to accentuate the action of watching and recording.

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Accumulation /Time /Graffiti

‘Walking is the way the body measures itself against the earth.’ Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: http://rebeccasolnit.net/book/wanderlust 

In this line, under a sense of human feet striding, shuffling, across the planet, lies accummulation of time. 

I like it when the earth feels like time. When I walked today I wasn’t concerned with distance. I had to get around, and go where I was going – end up in the carpark I started in – before it rained and the Met Office put this at happening around midday. By when I arrived back, the almost warming January sunshine had definitely gone and I’d been watching the darkening sky for some time. I’d had time, and I’d taken the time I’d had. 

I’d measured myself against the weather. Is there a word that measures one’s actions against duration of the weather? Perhaps in German which seems to have already other appropriate words to signify concepts of time – Zeitgeist (defining spirit/mood of historical era), Eigenzeit (personal time.) It seems to me that with Britain’s changeable climate this should be something we should already have. But the only phrase that does spring to mind, is more prophetic / observational:

It’s a bit black o’er Bill’s Mother’s.

Wordhistories: https://wordhistories.net/2020/05/21/bills-mother/ has the earliest textual account from 1927 in Sussex / Bedford / Hampshire / West Country, over Bill, or Will’s, Mum’s house. 

There is a lot of conjecture over which direction this might mean. Is it East or West? I’ve normally heard it used simply to mean that a portion of the sky has turned dark and it will rain there, and might do so here soon - so preparations should be made. However, maybe it refers simply to a very common name; over there in that visible but still far distance, there would of course be a house of a woman with a son named William, because there were, and still are, so very many males named William. Perhaps now is the time to invent the word, as sophisticated computing now enables us to receive more accurately approximate, instant and free predicted durations of weather phenomena. 

By the way, although in trying to beat the rain I didn’t take much time to stop and see about me, I spied many horses snug under blankets eating grass together. I squelched through muddy fields, some slippery. I tried not to look for HS2 scars in the landscape. I enjoyed walking by the river. I photographed graffiti on the aluminium bridge. Long-tailed tits flitted around the trees. It was warm so I took off and replaced my hat repeatedly. 

I found my way by consulting directions on my phone and when I go again there will be changes to spot. I will notice differences in the hedges and trees, in the feel of the wind. But for now it is new to me and about as interesting as a hotel room. Places gain interest as they alter, as Laurent Olivier writing about ‘Time’ in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World says, ‘the important thing to understand is that accumulations of small differences over time produce a measurable quality that can be expressed as a trajectory.’ This is a construction of familiarity made from observations of difference. 

It also embeds the observer within those changes. It is comforting to feel part of somewhere that goes through some of the same personal changes that you do. You feel the eigenzeit of a place. It grounds you and it connects you to the world. 

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Claire Colebrook: “[C]an we imagine a mode of reading the world, and its anthropogenic scars, that frees itself from folding the earth’s surface around human survival?”

Quote: Claire Colebrook, Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, Vol. 1

For some years, I have kept the image above on my Mac desktop. It reminds me of what inspires me to make art in the way I do and why I think making art like this matters. It is a photograph of the abrupt ending of a freshly lain path at the edge of a new housing development near my home. The imported sand and gravel burbles off at the end into a sea of clarty brown marl, giving lie to its obvious intention to join up with the older path looping round the spinny giving access to the Rec and its marshy boundary of the golf course. Instead, you must hop through a gap in the hedge, walk the verge by the road and then broach the spinny via another gap. 

These days, the spinny resides in a different parish to the the new housing development which wouldn't have been built at all if a pre-2014 environmental report, stating that green space had already been reduced to pockets and there was no more room for houses, had been upheld. This one field this side of the railway was all that was left from the old farms. Instead, the parish boundaries were moved so that it became enclosed by the neighbouring parish belonging to a village more than a mile away, between which conveniently lay much green (yet unaccessible) space.

The houses were duly built and I spent 2017 and 2018 exploring, cataloguing, collecting, and making art, about the changing environment and affects of home building made on the ground. A great deal of material from the building site ended up causing pollution; foam, metal, plastic, blown and scattered around, but it was the path that provided a prime example of what Beatrice Cortez' paragraph, which hovers above it in my image, is set radically against:

If we consider, following Deleuze and Gattari, that every face and every object diagrams the space in front of them, due to the massive scale of hyperobjects, we imagine their diagraming of space in non-human ways, not as a landscape in front of us, not as an environment around us. This brings us to a question posed by Claire Colebrook: “[C]an we imagine a mode of reading the world, and its anthropogenic scars, that frees itself from folding the earth’s surface around human survival?” (Claire Colebrook)          

There is a huge amount just in this one paragraph, and the point of my blog is not to explain it   the link to the essay is above  but to explain its significance to me.

What grabs me is the complexity in the to-and-fro-ness of the act of ' imagin(ing) a mode of reading the world  ~ that frees itself from folding the earth’s surface around human survival', of trying to understand the world, with all our pasts and continuing processes happening, all the while being within it yourself, during which you try to convince yourself against lifetimes of conditioning, that yourself, and all others like you, are not the most important lives in it. 

For once you get into that non-survival frame of mind that thinks of the human species not as a hierarchy but as one of many; as part of a flatter organisation of many, many beings  and things, because we are amalgamations of objects/things too as well as living things  merely walking minerals (3)  then you realise that the world, and all its pasts and processes, are also looking back at you and that the space you live in is shared on many levels; and most of them don't know you exist just as much as you don't know that they exist. 

This mode of sharing space sent me on a trail of looking for where the other beings who look at us are, and how they exist in the spaces we tend to think of as ours.

This sent me to where moss and pigeons live. Perhaps this is predictable  to go to the macro places; the literal cracks that moss and lichens inhabit, the largest of the small and overlooked places visible to the naked eye, especially once those being gather together and cover a surface, and to the lowest of the old hierarchy  'the rats of the sky'  but there's the clue: if you flatten your hierarchy, it's the ones at the bottom that are used to living there that may provide much needed clues on how to live. 

Much is done in our cities to prevent other species clinging on; impenetrable self-cleaning glass office towers, the corralling of 'Nature' into other places, parks and peripheries, away from our machines, homes and working spaces; a belief that there can somehow be an allotted percentage acceptable per population figure. This is not a manifestation of enmeshment within a shared ecosystem.

1. Beatriz Cortez ‘The Face as a Hyperobject’ Chap 14 in  Hyperobjects for ArtistsA reader, edited by Timothy Morton and Laura Copelin with Peyton Gardner   

2. Claire Colebrook, Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction, Vol. 1, (Ann Arbor, MI: Open Hu- manities Press, 2014), 3. 

3. Jane Bennet, Vital Materials

Monday, 17 October 2022

Radical Landscapes, Mead Gallery

Thought I’d share a few pics from the Radical Landscapes exhibition at Warwick University in the Warwick Arts Ctr Mead Gallery. I'd been looking forward to seeing this for some time, having picked up the brochure at the Liverpool Tate just before it opened,

The exhibition is as much about contested ownership of land, of being there and claiming a stake, as it is metaphors of depth and spiritual connection with land. The two are intertwined. There was a distinct feel of not belonging, of having to tussle and fight for space to stand, felt across gender, race and class. Also little reference to our greater ecosystem and not much reference to a missing species embeddedness - but human aloofness from environment is usual, if surprising in this context. 

The disconnection between culture and environment is not overtly referred to. Eco-breakdown was only a direct subject of 3 of all the works, and then oddly curated in connection with late 20C nuclear fears and I agree with the negative Guardian article which lamented a missing contemporary aspect. Maybe that was more visible in the truncated selection that made it here from Liverpool, but perhaps it was also lost in an attempt to produce a survey of 20C attitude to landscape. 

It was still good to see and I'm glad I went. Good to see the photo of the Kinder Scout mass tresspass and, in the flesh, Ithell Colquhoun’s painting Attributes of the moon as a portrait of the landscape as strong and feminine is compelling. 

Sadly, the two new commissions didn’t make it from the Liverpool Tate to Warwick Uni. Nor did Ruth McEwan’s living calendar of plants Back to the Fields, which I would haved loved to have seen.

A few images of the Mead Gallery Radical Landscapes exhibition are below:

Friday, 12 August 2022


I saw the remains of this hawthorn which has become impaled upon a galvanised steel fence between industrial road and rail track. The tree with its limbs pinned in the fence, scalped by the rail workers who were eating lunch by their vans down the way having just finished tidying up when I passed by, seemed to me an allegory of the embeddness of human structures in an organic world rather than the other way around. 

As an organic intervention in the metal grid requiring branches to become involved in the fence I was reminded of the failed freedom of Steve McQueen’s character in The Great Escape; caught up in razor-wire with the motorbike engine still pointlessly throbbing. I’m Generation X and this to me is an iconic image of failure of the individual despite determined action against a larger, organised and well-equipped foe. Yet we know the outcome of that war and therefore know that combined action can create freedom from tyranny. In this instance, the tree still lives and will regrow. There are small shoots of regrowth showing even as it stands chained to litter and decay. Its roots are wedded in concrete through which the railworkers will not cut. So the system that impoverishes it also saves its life. It is embedded in this landscape. It can't escape but neither will it die. It remains in an obstinate stalemate which is what I chose for its name. 

I think this is a poor framework for a future relationship with our environment. I dislike framing that as a battle as much as I am repulsed by actual violence. It is an inherited battle for survival that no side can win without sustaining loss and I think we are better to reorganise our culture around acceptance and making space for all. 

I recently read Nick Hayes' book 'Trespass' in which he recounts his own travels across several constructed barriers and the history of enclosure of land in this country. He reveals the private/public ownership of land as a vastly unfair monopoly of shared resources by the rich and a dichotomy that is visible sculpted into our landscape as field boundaries, hedges, walls and ditches. So I'm showing the (current) final print as part of a fence-like assemblage.

Because it's installed in a window it can only be viewed from two dissimilar points so I chose to put Stalemate on the inside because it is more hemmed in. 

On the side that can only be seen from outside (which you can see here) I put prints made from marks that try to transcribe birdsong above a hard-ground and aquatint print of a group of digger buckets that were being used in the same plot of land where the birds live. I suppose it is a flight of fancy, but if it is possible for me to try and write in human ways the conversation between birds, and I obviously did, then perhaps it is also possible to imagine a conversation between inanimate objects and the living. And it might be easier to do that if we comprehend that we cannot understand either of the languages of the speakers. Hense, the name of my installation is 'Other Conversations'.

I've been working on Stalemate for a while and it's taken several forms so far. Firstly, I painted it on polythene but the result was too light and flighty for such an obstinate tree.

At first drypoint versions of it were constrained by the size of my A4 press which led to a fragmented version. This has its own character and might be something I look at doing again. 

I'm planning to make a hardground and aquatint zinc-plate of it which will allow me to explore the detail and stand up to more experimentation than the plastic CadFoil version I've been using.

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Radio Public: 'At Home On The High Street'

Here are a few images of Radio Public Art Festival held on Dudley High Street July 9 2022. This is all from the beginning of the day. I wish we had more photos but we got too busy to take them.

Radio Public happened as art festival in a variety of ways, including a found-sound MixCloud radio programme, street theatre, visual art and workshops. We called the sound-scape exhibition 'At Home On The High Street' because it describes how we wanted Dudley High Street to be felt as a space not as it currently is - but warm, cuddly and a bit silly - completely different to a normal day!

 Rachel setting up the Textures Printing Workshop

 The Observation 'Radio' Station displaying a collection of old radios.

 Some results from explorative Textures Workshops

The Observation 'Radio' Station again.

Textures workshop 'gallery' showing works made by passersby who dropped in and had a play at printing with us.