Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Street rubbings

Since moving to Ireland in the late 1980s, I have always noticed and wondered at the design of the "shore" coverings that gave access to water pipes and other utilities. Some of the designs were exquisite, and I have many times thought they would make good rubbings. As a summer job, when I was in university in the early 1980s, I found myself working for a special exhibit -- The London Brass Rubbing Cenre -- at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. The exhibit came from the parent centre in London, and my job was as an instructor to visitors, setting them up with paper and hard wax crayons, and a reproduction brass taken from a tomb in the UK (images of knights and ladies, and such).

The old shore coverings in my home town now always bring this to mind. So, one of the first things I did when I started my studio residency at Signal Arts Centre last week was cut some paper, don my boiler suit, and walk around the corner from the arts centre with copper, black, and gold pieces of hard wax; I took a few rubbings from a particularly nice water pipe access covering. By the way, in Irish "uisce" means "water".

I liked the copper rubbing the best. One has to work quickly and hold the paper down so that it doesn't move. If the paper moves while working, then it is time to start a new rubbing.

The decorative old shores (left) are uniquely Irish, as opposed to the replacement modern shores, though at least the "uisce" is retained.

I have since found some other shores that I plan to do rubbings of, but I am at the mercy of the weather.