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. These include a process, developed in 1997, that enables her to lift surfaces from sites. Recent projects include:
COUNTLESS (2016 - 2018)
The Countless project includes a series of 30 graphite rubbings from the graves of 30 migrants who died at sea whilst trying to reach Europe. In 2017 it was 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 refer to the owner of the boat or to religious phrases such as 'In God We Trust'.
The Countless project also includes found objects, photographs and film footage of the graves and boats, including a short film entitled Leave or Remain. The film was a prizewinner at The 2019 Swedenborg Film Festival.
The project was first presented in a solo exhibition at Aspex gallery, Portsmouth from 04/2017- 06/2017 as the winner of the EMERGENCY Award 2016.
The Countless project was funded by the Arts Council England.
Maya Ramsay 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).
Works from the Countless project were exhibited as part of the Sink Without Trace exhibition on migrant deaths at sea curated by Maya Ramsay and Federica Mazzara, 13 June - 13 July 2019 at P21 Gallery, London.
'The Role of Art in Subverting the 'Ungrievability' of Migrant Lives' article which features the Countless project can be read here: https://parsejournal.com/article/the-role-of-art-in-subverting-the-ungrievability-of-migrant-lives
WALL OF SOUND (2015)
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 into the Hendrix House museum.
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 on the walls of his flat. The wallpaper scores are composed of abstract marks created by graphite rubbings of the woodchip wallpaper on blank manuscript paper. Their similarity to music notation encourages viewers 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.
Wall of Sound won EMERGENCY 2016.
The Wall of Sound project includes two additional rubbings entitled Murmuration (Little Wing) 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:
STATION X (2012)
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 into a museum. 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 a number of BBC interviews and a feature on Radio 4’s Today programme.
The STATION X project was first exhibited in MK Gallery project space and in Alan Turing's hut at Bletchley Park in 2012. One of Maya Ramsay's works from the project was displayed in the Bletchley Park Rescued and Restored exhibition at Bletchley Park from 2016 - 2018.
The Station X project is featured in the hugely popular book Saving Bletchley Park by Dr. Sue Black:
WALL TALK (2008 - ongoing)
Wall Talk is an ongoing project lifting surfaces that have a relationship to conflict.
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 Wall Talk project was presented as a solo exhibition as the winner of the London Group Solo Show Award in 2013 and shortlisted for the Artraker Award for Art and Conflict in 2014.
Images of Maya Ramsay at work: (1) Shorsh Saleh, (2) Rachael Marshall, (3) Orvil Kunga.