Spiky Black is a site-specific audio artwork made for the Rose Garden at Chalkwell Park by artists Alison Carlier and Amanda Loomes. The artwork grafts a transformative audio layer onto the rose garden, giving listeners an intimate and alternative insight into the thoughts and language of those committed to growing roses.
Spiky Black is best experienced in the rose garden, so if you can, make your way there. The rose garden is easy to find, just look on the NetPark signs when you enter the park or ask someone for directions.
The audio artwork is 30 minutes long. Press the play button below ‘SPIKY BLACK the album’ and wait for the track to load – this can take a couple of minutes in the park. If you have headphones please put them on. Then put your device away and listen. You can move around or sit – it’s up to you. You can also pause the audio at anytime. When the track finishes browse the website below to find out more about the making of Spiky Black.
We asked Southend Borough Council where they got their roses and they put us in touch with one of the UK’s largest rose growers, based in Norfolk. It is a family run business and they were really kind and invited us to look around. Then we kept going back in different seasons and every time we went we were amazed by what we saw; how labour intensive it all was, the ingenuity of the systems, the inconsequential beauty.
We then followed the journey back to the rose breeders at Peter Beales, becoming fully immersed in the art of growing roses; the myriad of decisions that have to be made, the editing, the naming. The Rosarians we met had committed their working lives to rose growing and were as compelling as the roses they tended.
We contacted Leigh Horticultural Society and began a friendship with their President Jim Sanctuary. He showed us the 1915 Rose Annual with Walter Easlea’s article on Municipal Rose Gardens, featuring Chalkwell Park and adverts for his rose nursery at Danecroft. We are delighted to reintroduce two Easlea’s Golden Ramblers from Peter Beales back into the park at the foot of the Mulberry tree outside Chalkwell Hall.
As the cherry on the top of the bun, Leigh Horticultural Society have sponsored the replanting of one of the beds in the rose garden with Royal William roses.
From time spent in residence at Metal and from working closely with Chalkwell Park’s gardeners over a year, we found out that one gardener (now retired) used to be a punk. When we asked him what he would name an imaginary rose he spontaneously came up with Spiky Black, and a lovely long description of the rose and how it would resemble his hair and jacket in his former punk days. There seemed to be an interesting marriage between the thorniness of the roses and the edgy spikiness of punk. Whilst roses are traditionally seen as beautiful and romantic we found the industry to be full of hard graft. As one of the park gardeners says “finish at one end and then start all over again”.
Alison Carlier completed an MA in drawing at Wimbledon College of Art in 2013 and went on to win the Jerwood Drawing Prize (2014) with her open ended audio drawing ‘Adjectives, lines and marks’. She has gone on to have solo exhibitions at Hardwick Gallery, Cheltenham (2014) and m2 Gallery, Peckham (2016). Her work was selected for Emergency 7, Aspex (2015) and for a new work ‘Tonal Observational Drawing’ in The JHB Archive, Birmingham Open Media (2015). She gave a performance at Art Language Location, Cambridge (2015) and in 2016 became the Alexandra Reinhardt Memorial Award Artist in Residence at Aspex, Portsmouth resulting in permanent commission for the gallery.
Amanda Loomes has been making experimental digital documentaries since graduating from The Royal College of Art (2006) including a number of works funded by Arts Council England such as ‘Equivalents I-VIII’, 2010 and ‘Multi-story’, 2014. In 2013 she was short-listed for Jerwood Open Forest working with Forestry Commission England and the work was shown at Jerwood Space (2014). In 2015 she was co-commissioned by HOUSE & Photoworks for the film installation ‘Relict Material’. Last year she undertook a National Trust commission at Lyme in Cheshire working with the past and present ‘Keepers’. In 2015 she was selected by Metal to attend a weeklong development LAB in Southend, resulting in Spiky Black.
‘New Rose’ The Damned (1976)
‘Roses from the South’ Carousel Music Wurlitzer Band Organ Style 153
‘The Garden of Roses’ Harvey Hindermeyer (1909)
‘Rose in the Bud’ Carmen Hill (1913)
‘Spring is Here’ Leo Reisman and his Orchestra (1938)
Thanks and acknowledgements
Thank you to the park gardeners that we had the pleasure to work with, Jeff, Jim and Shawn. And to Jacques and Paul at Southend Borough Council for all their help. Thanks to Leigh Horticultural Society for sponsoring a new bed of roses. Particular thanks to the President Jim Sanctuary for his unwavering support and advice (and year long loan of his historic Rose Annuals). Thanks also to the prize winning rose growers Dawn and Marion. Thanks to all at Whartons for their openness; Lina, James, Paul, Nigel, Shannon and William. Thanks to Peter Beales; Ian, Sarah and Tina for their enthusiasm. Thanks to local residents Dave and Gloria for just being them. Thank you to Barbara, Mary and Victoria for their sustenance. Thanks to Simon Poulter for his sage advice and for this website (with advisors Jamie Gledhill and Sophie Mellor). Thanks to Mat for working his magic on the sound. Thanks to Andy for making the signs. Thanks to Emma Mills, Mental Health Wellbeing co-ordinator Southend, for her cheery enthusiasm and to all the participants and helpers at Metal Art School who offered such useful feedback. A huge thank you to Metal for saying “Yes”, for their accommodation in the widest sense and for making us feel part of this amazing creative hub; Colette, Paige, Sadie, Sean, Syd, Stephanie. And finally thanks to Arts Council England for their support and funding.