Modern Mudlarking


Titel of work: ‘Modern Mudlarking’

Location: ONCA in Brighton (UK)

Technique: Temporary carpet from Aggregate

Year: 2016


“A mudlark is someone who scavenges in river mud for items of value, a term used especially to describe those who scavenged this way in London during the late 18th and 19th centuries”

Looking for a subject for the E:collective exhibition ‘Experiencing change/Changing experience’ at ONCA in Brighton (UK), I found a subject very close to home. I recently moved to Utrecht (NL) with my boyfriend. Our new garden was almost entirely paved, so the first thing we did was taking out tiles. The ground under the pavement was a mixture of sand and a lot of debris. Pieces of concrete, bricks, but also tiles and even bits of porcelain. I became fascinated and with every dig or after rainfall, I would scan the garden for new pieces.

The scanning didn’t stick to the garden, I started noticing bits of debris in sandy paths in parks in the city as well. Where were these pieces of tiles and porcelain coming from, I wondered. I googled, looking for debris in gardens, and soon found out that the debris of demolished houses was commonly used to lay under newly build houses, and roads. My search brought me even closer to home, my father recently retired from working over 25 years in the construction of roads….

With three sponsored sample-bags filled with Recycled Demolition Waste Masonry Aggregate, I started my work at ONCA. Sorting through the pile I created a carpet that grew naturally in a selected order. In 5 days time the pile became a little smaller, but I didn’t sort through all the material. It was nice to noticed how vistors responded to the work. They understand it immediately and where fascinated by the colourful pits and pieces that came from the grayish looking pile. They were surprised that this was one (or more) houses and recognized or asked what parts where. The biggest surprise and my challenge was making them want or appreciate the material again. And they did. The waste was turned into something that looked pretty, something people wanted to have or make it last. A balance between what was once trash intended to hide and what now was art in full display.