From These Windows: Online Collection – a selection of writing and art inspired by the collections of the V&A Museums.
I walk from back to front in this space. On one side water is opened by glass; on the other side, great slabs are paved up into the sky. I can see Dundee but only just. Inside, there’s the wood grain with ripples and whorls, white circles―streaks of old sea creatures embedded in black granite steps. Inside, there’s people walking slowly looking, peering, sat on benches; beyond are pale skies, a ship’s mast, a building site and snow-slicked hills. I can see the surface of waves pushed by the wind outside.
I am inside, warm and still. It’s like being on the side of a hill… the inside of a mountain alive with people, thoughts, with things made past and present.
I walk into music. A slight vibration. There’s an image, a hand holding a small wooden ball, right in front to me. I want to clamber onto that hand, swing from its fingers. The image takes you deeper into a new world. It is an OK world. The hand that holds it says so.
Between the many faces of sharply turned out rude boys and revolutionary misfits hung up and stranded on red painted walls, macs and anoraks rustle and vibrate; sunshine reggae beats, chunky home spun knitting and earthly colours and fabrics. Affluent, comfortable… but something makes me uneasy.
A man with a trolley. It rumbles. This time, a guy with a big gold chain, and a trolley with nothing. Why is something so small on such a big trolley? There is a man on the terrace taking photos but he doesn’t look like a photographer. Photographers are all quiet brown leather. This man wears baggy tracksuit bottoms with lime-green stripes, their loud luminescence shining straight out of a memory of vodka-bottle boys in the swing park, big boys that would stand in lanky clumps and swear and swig, their too-loud laughs clanging of the metal swing chains and slide. The tracksuit man is talking on the phone now; his mouth is soft and smiling, his camera is pointed out at some view beyond. Against the grey water he is bright and small.
The Tay is not silver but brown. The true Scotsman is not here, but look! His form is a space between the pleats and tucks, the material and the immaterial. He exists as a thought that he might wear or not wear. Here inside, now outside, my eye is drawn; the dreamer follows the art. Leaps―
If I were a child I would slide, jump the fence, fall to whatever is waiting.
Some internal armadillo. The reptilian body moves as I move; a ribcage of jenga blocks, lines criss-crossing. Hexagonal spine, tail, arching vertebrae. Mathematical and precise. A mechanised hand draws itself. I’m thinking, how does it know how to do that? A note affixed to the pin board asks, “What does a robot look like to you?”… Answers probe for meaning in the mechanical, electrical and digital.
My grandmother climbed sixty steps. She does not take the cage― the elevator―she is too stubborn. but by the time she reaches the top, she has to come down again. I saw the same cage in a dream.
Thoughts unsung, undrawn, unsaid, unwritten―seeking a place to breathe. This building is a ship with many sails.
I walk from back to front in this space, on one side water is opened by glass; on the other side, great slabs are paved to the sky. I can see Dundee but only just.
I feel back to front in this space.
Writers and Artists:
Bernadette Ashby, Isla Beaton, Rebecca Baird, Collette Cowie, Heidi Dore, Karen Gleeson, Kirsty Gunn, Andy Jackson, Graham Johnston, Ellie Julings, Vicky Lothian, Gail Low, Justine Matthew, Wanda McGregor, Nicole McLaughlin, Nick Mulgrew, Cara Rooney, Jill Stevenson, Andrea Turner, Hannah Whaley.
Cover Artwork: Bernadette Ashby