Award-winning artist Maya Ramsay works with historically and politically important sites. For the past twenty years, Maya has been working with unique processes to lift surfaces from sites and to capture visual histories that would otherwise be unseen. For the past ten years Maya has been focussing on sites that have a relationship to conflict, bringing the materiality of conflict closer to the viewer.
Recent projects include:
COUNTLESS is a series of 29 graphite rubbings from the graves of migrants who died at sea whilst trying to reach Europe. It is 29 years since the first recorded migrant shipwreck occured in Europe. Migrant's graves are marked with numbers rather than names as the majority of their bodies remain unidentified.
COUNTLESS is currently on display in a solo exhibition at Aspex gallery, Portsmouth from 01/04/2017- 04/06/2017.
Maya has recently published an article on the subject of art & migrant deaths at sea - 'Reframing the debate: The art of Lampedusa' for 'Crossings: Journal of Migration and Culture' (2016).
WALL TALK is an ongoing project lifting surfaces from sites that have a historical relationship to conflict. These works reference the idea of walls as witnesses to atrocities.
Some of the works in the series are lifted from sites that are directly connected to conflict. Other works are lifted from non-conflict sites and rely on the power of allusion, reflecting the impossibility of knowing whether images of conflict are authentic. The locations from which the works have been lifted are unspecified as the works refer to the universal effect of conflict rather than to specific warring factions.
The WALL TALK project was shortlisted for the international Artraker Award for Art and Conflict 2014 and won the London Group Solo Show Award in 2013.
WALL OF SOUND (JIMI HENDRIX)
Graphite rubbings of woodchip wallpaper in Jimi Hendrix’s London home at 23 Brook Street, made prior to the building's renovation. As if by magic, the wall rubbings came out looking like music notation.
Hendrix’s home is next-door to where the composer Handel lived 200 years earlier and it is said that Hendrix saw visions of Handel in the woodchip wallpaper of his flat. The wallpaper scores are composed of abstract marks created by rubbings of the woodchip wallpaper on to blank manuscript paper. Their similarity to music notation allows the viewer to imagine the sound that Hendrix’s walls might make.
The five sections, akin to a suite of music, were performed as part of the 2015 London Jazz festival in Handel’s rehearsal room where he composed the Messiah, as part of the 2016 London Jazz festival at the Southbank Centre and at the opening of Hendrix House in 2016.
An album of interpretations of WALL OF SOUND with compositions by leading jazz musicians is currently underway. Footage of a track from the album, performed in Hendrix's bedroom, can be seen here:
WALL OF SOUND won EMERGENCY 2016.
STATION X (BLETCHLEY PARK)
Surfaces were lifted from the walls of the derelict buildings where the Code-breakers worked during World War 11 at Bletchley Park, prior to the buildings renovation. These buildings had lain derelict for many decades awaiting repair and were hugely evocative of internationally important histories.
The works include surfaces lifted from one of the buildings where the walls were covered in a myriad of cobwebs that had become carbonised during a fire. The STATION X project was the subject of numerous BBC interviews and a feature on RADIO 4’s Today programme. Some of Maya's works from the project are currently on display at the Bletchley Park Museum.
Images of work in progress at Bletchley Park: Rachael Marshall & Orvil Kunga.