Award-winning artist Maya Ramsay works with historically and politically important sites, employing a variety of processes to capture visual histories that would otherwise be lost or unseen. Maya predominantly uses a unique process that she developed twenty years ago, which enables her to lift surfaces from these sites. Recent projects include:
The Countless project includes a series of 30 graphite rubbings from the graves of migrants who died at sea whilst trying to reach Europe. It is 30 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.
Alongside the nameless grave rubbings are a series of rubbings from the names painted on the sides of shipwrecked migrant boats. The names often refer to the owner of the boat or to religious phrases such as 'In God We Trust'. Migrant's boats are destroyed by the authorities.
The project also includes found objects and photographic and film footage.
Countless was presented in a solo exhibition at Aspex gallery, Portsmouth from 01/04/2017- 04/06/2017.
The Countless project was funded by the Arts Council England Grants for the Arts programme.
Maya Ramsay 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 that have a relationship to conflict. These works reference the idea of walls as witnesses.
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 in 2014 and won the London Group Solo Show Award in 2013.
WALL OF SOUND (JIMI HENDRIX)
Wall of Sound is a series of 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 wallpaper 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 graphite rubbings of the woodchip wallpaper on to blank manuscript paper. Their similarity to music notation encourage 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, as part of the 2016 London Jazz festival at the Southbank Centre and at the opening of Hendrix House in 2016.
The Wall of Sound project also includes the pieces Murmuration and Through the Haze.
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)
For the STATION X project 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 Ramsay's works from the project are currently on display in the Bletchley Park Rescued and Restored exhibition at Hut 12 at Bletchley Park.
Images of work in progress: Shorsh Saleh, Rachael Marshall, Orvil Kunga.