Wednesday 20 February 2019

Alban Low - Love Tokens and Bad Pennies

Alban Low

Does love endure forever? Does a bad penny always turn up? During this Valentine month the artists and writers from CollectConnect explore this flip-sided theme with an exhibition of 32 miniature sculptures. These objects are placed in public places (#unsettledgallery), helping us to remember those who we hold dear - or cast off those who we would rather forget. Every day throughout February we will be featuring one of these tokens/pennies on this website. A writer will also use the art as inspiration to create something new and fresh.

Artist - Alban Low / Words Rebecca Lowe

Os Sacrum – The Sacred Bone
She’d held a fascination for bones ever since she was a child. Her cat, Tigger, had brought home a dead mole and deposited it on the doorstep. Carefully, she’d prized it open with a penknife, peeled back the velvet curtain of its skin, to reveal lungs, liver, a tiny, still-warm heart. She’d hung it out to dry on the bedroom window, waited until all the other parts had shrivelled to parchment, to reveal the tiny, white lattice of bones.

Over the years, she’d gathered other treasures – mouse, rat, and once the perfectly preserved skeleton of a wild rabbit. She’d taught herself to reassemble, pin by pin, learned which part connected to which with the skill of a mechanic, knew her way round the maze of a mouse’s ribcage or the lacework wing of a songthrush.

While other children grimaced through bruised knees or dangled monkey-like from the trees in the park, she’d sit cross-legged in her bedroom, poring over her books, the names – clavicle, scapula, thorax, vertebrae, patella – melting on her tongue.

Now, she was older. The monkey-boys had slid from their treetops to find new homes on benches, hunching and skulking, smoking dogends and chewing gum. The girls strutted by, idle as daisies, oblivious, littering the pavements with their laughter.

She’d gathered the bones slowly as she found them, buried in shallow mounds or sticking out of the earth masquerading as tree roots – a stray rib here, a stubby knucklebone, the tiny nub of a little finger – slowly assembled her greatest treasure ever, her first human skeleton. There was just one part missing, the tiny, almond-shaped bone she’d read about in Rabbinic literature, that is known as the Luz: the bone of life, or sacred bone. Mythology has it that from this one indestructible bone, everything else can grow. An entire human being cloned from a single bone – imagine that! All she has to do is to find it, somewhere, and her life’s work will be complete.

So every night she emerges from her study – and now she is getting older, and all of her former classmates have paired off and had children of their own, and one day they, too, will be skeletons, and she will be the only one left. So she goes about her night’s work, leaving charms in the hope of attracting the final, lost bone to herself. Sometimes, she makes words out of the bones –ENTRAILS… SELFISH  - or names them for the first set of bones she’d found, the bones of the boy she’d buried that night, so many, many years ago – her first and only love, soon to be hers eternally: MIKE.
Alban Low's Bad Penny at the
#unsettledgallery Pipe Crack Site.
Alban's Bad Penny resides on a tiny mossy ledge in the aptly named Pipe Crack Site in Bermondsey, part of the #usettledgallery near London Bridge.
The #unsettledgallery, as its name suggests, is an evolving space that we have been populating with art. The London Bridge area is a thoroughfare for thousands of commuters each day. The Tate Modern, White Cube and Jerwood Space are close by, Guy's Hospital sits within its boundary, alongside Europe's tallest building, The Shard. The area has been targeted by 'terrorists'  in the past and people queue in a long line every day outside the Immigration Centre on St Thomas St. It has given us plenty of inspiration already but we hope it will now become a breeding ground for both our own art and other artists too. 

Alban Low is involved in many creative projects, these include album artwork, publishing chapbooks, making films, maps, conceptual exhibitions, live performance and good old drawing. He is artist-in-residence at the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Kingston University and St George's University of London. Low spends his evenings in the jazz clubs of London where he captures the exhilaration of live performances in his sketchbook. On Wednesday evenings he sketches the performers on the radio show A World in London at Resonance FM. This year Alban is working on a walking project about London Musicians from the 1920s-1940s.

Rebecca Lowe is a Wales-based writer, editor and performance poet. She has been featured on BBC Radio 4's Poetry Workshop, and her work has appeared in anthologies including Bristol Poetry Can, Red Poets, Blackheath Countercultural Review, and Three Drops from a Cauldron, an anthology of poetry based on folklore and myth. She also plays hammered dulcimer and zither, which she sometimes incorporates into her performances.

Don't forget to submit to our next exhibition. The Art of Caring is accepting submission until the 7th April 2019. More HERE.

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