Through imaginative salvage and experiments in chemical printmaking the project Urban Alchemy explores the material stories and processes of urban transformation. As unofficial artist in residence on a large-scale demolition site in East London I began to see the creative potential of the multiple materials that were discarded and deconstructed. Beginning with etching into reclaimed roofing zinc I moved on to attempting to extend this urban palette through the potential of London brick stocks, slate, lime mortar and rust. It was a London brick that introduced me to UCL Chemistry professor, material scientist Julian Evans as I sought to grind it small enough to become a pigment and so began a collaboration that led to my Leverhulme artist residency in UCL Chemistry and the project Urban Alchemy.
At the Institute of Making’s Festival of Stuff street extravaganza on Saturday June 27th 2015 I invited artist Joe Volley and geoarchaeologist Ruth Siddal to demonstrate the possibilities of an urban ink palette. They will be exploring and demonstrating the long lineage of making inks from earth pigments seen in their own project with artist Onya McCausland and author of ‘The Alchemy of Paint’ Spike Bucklow called ‘Turning Landscape into Colour.’