EVERY PLACE A PALIMPSEST

by youwillhearmecall

Emma Bolland

‘Nothing defines the specific rootedness of a location – the transformation of a place into a site – more than its being founded on a grave’. Francesco Pellizzi

‘…the snowflakes are dancing on the radio…’. David Peace

Prince Phillip Playing Fields, Leeds. Photograph by Judit Bodor


Every place is a palimpsest. We tread a forensic trace of memory, leaving a little behind, carrying a little away. The fields where she is lost and taken are invisibly layered with the facts and fictions of my historical gaze. The grave of my parents, seen for the first, and only time, ten years after their death. A contested recollection of a line of men, dark uniforms sweeping and striking the wet meadows of my childhood home, searching for the body of a lost child, my fingers reaching upwards to the calloused grasp of my father’s hand, while the cold rain mists the whole to a surreal shadow of itself, that I see in black and white. My tired eyes walking the seamless / stuttered lines of David’s fiction, wrapped, insomniac, in the last hours of a winter’s night. All these things, and more, lie translucent upon the ground.

Emma with a daisy found at Manor Street Industrial Estate, Leeds. Photograph by Tom Rodgers.


The flat anonymity of this space bears no mark of the obscenities enacted upon it. A blank canvas: receiving and erasing the banal and dreadful brushstrokes of his deeds. Judit pauses, pulling her coat around her, and reminds me of the statement made by Beuys that “everyone is an artist”, and Metzger’s questioning reply – “ Himmler auch?”, and moments later, as we stand in the cold light we ask ourselves, was it Metzger? Was it Beuys? Have we remembered aright?

Detail from ‘Clover picked from Prince Phillip Playing Fields’. Emma Bolland. Pen and ink on paper.


Amongst so much nothingness, we need a forensic gaze to find a beauty, to find a place where her soul can soar. In Judit’s words,  “we need to pay attention to the things we do not know”. We look closely at the ground, we lose ourselves in the infinite singularity of the endless grass; the blades and the black luck of the clovers already stellar, already anticipating the labours of my pencil, the labours of my pen; until, in a wrenching invagination of the heart, the earth becomes the sky. Milky way. You will hear me call.

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