The Islington Mill Art Academy were invited to take part in the 'Moot Points' exhibition at Transmission Gallery in Glasgow in November 2008. The exhibition was over one month and explored 'self-organisation, discourse and collaboration' in a number of different ways.
We organised various events during our one week residency from 3-8 November (see the Art Academy blog for more details). I made a film about the 80's pop band Strawberry Switchblade entitled 'Trees & Flowers' and this was screened on the Saturday as part of a Strawberry Switchblade Fan Convention which I organised (or attempted to).
Background on Trees & Flowers
The idea behind the project evolved as I began to gather more information about the band's history. From old interviews I discovered that Jill & Rose used to go to a punk venue called the Silver Thread Hotel in Paisley (a town just outside Glasgow) in the late seventies, as punk bands had been banned from playing in Glasgow at the time and there were very few places that even played punk records. After deciding to make a trip to Paisley to search for the hotel I happened across the slightly darker history of Paisley, concerning the famous witch trials of 1696 (the last recorded witch trials in Scotland). I liked this connection (given the band's gothic image & having described themselves as 'scabby witches of Glasgow') and decided to persue it further.
After gathering some information from Paisley Library's expansive collection of literature on these trials I attemped to search out places of interest using an 18th century map of Paisley on which they were marked. These included the burial ground (now major road intersection), the building where the accused had been imprisoned (now a high street chemist's) and the execution site (an unmarked park opposite high-rise council flats and suprisingly difficult to find despite still being named Gallows Green). According to records the burial site was marked with a horseshoe, which was stolen in the 1970's and supposedly brought bad luck to the town following its removal, until the council replaced it with a replica in the 1990's after complaints from local people. I was informed by one Paisley resident that it was impossible to see the horseshoe unless you were on a bus, and I later discovered this to be true (after several vain attempts to see it).
What turned out to be most elusive of all was the Silver Thread Hotel. After several hours of searching/ questioning I established that it had been turned into a nursing home, but disappointingly I was not able to get any information on the building's previous use when I eventually located it. However, out of desperation I questioned some people working in the hotel nearby and by chance they had been to the Silver Thread many years earlier, although its previous life as a punk venue was unknown to them.
Due to time constraints the version of 'Trees & Flowers' which was shown at Transmission Gallery was very rough and did not include much of the footage which I took during the week. However I do intend to finish the film properly at some point, and also to write up a more complete diary of the whole project. This version of the film can be seen below. It has been split into 3 parts and the quality is slightly less than the original because of the upload size.
Trees & Flowers (Part 1)
Trees & Flowers (Part 2)
Trees & Flowers (Part 3)