In March, writer and artist Maria Howard invited Art Writing students to produce a piece of sitewriting informed by the Hamiltonhill Claypits, alongside the Glasgow branch of the Forth and Clyde Canal. An ex-industrial site that has been ‘rewilded’, the claypits act as a lens through which to consider the city’s colonial past, neoliberal present and ecological future.
If someone were to drop us in like a bulletin
duckstubborn, beakside down in a bank—
I’ve been walking this route more than at any other time of my life Every time I think about the churches and the high rises that make up the skyline
(Picture this a day in December)
A channel carved in the hill to guide the rain down. The water
The boats stand still, turned into homes. They know they don’t need to worry about waves.
Is this place peaceful? At least these leaves curl into hugs. I’m walking, and it’s hard to ignore the birds. I think about that night where we sat in my living room. The moment before was a quiet one. We sipped our weekly can of beer, and then the birds began to chirp. Those night birds, the ones I hadn’t heard for weeks now. Surprising at first, when they would start up late at night, but now slowly becoming a part of the landscape of the flat. Then all at once, they disappeared.
We are above the sound of the city and its rooftops, humming underneath the slippery slopes of mud and signs of spring. An occasional flower surrounded by paved paths and brown.
khaki canal stressed with reflections solar panels tilt to white.
The bumpy underfoot changes how the bones inside me knock
against each other. The city becomes more ordered from here.
Glasgow is built on seven hills
but they dug more holes which made more hills.
And we keep distance
We spread out
Map the bank in inconsistent lines
this small lump + not the one at the pit
which felt dirty + eyes on my back watching me touch it
it makes me want to take up space
Landscapes form on torn sheets of newspaper,
along with animals, objects, body parts
The fingerprints aren’t just visible in the clay. The clay is also visible in the fingerprints. On the page it looks like dirt. Not simply marks of what was there, thumbs and index fingers, but also their gestures, force. Not hard, but determined, in order to make their marks in the clay, turn it into something else. Not simply touched but touched into becoming a shape of its touch.
I pick some up and pocket it for later
I wrap you in paper and put you in between the pages of my diary like a secret
a signaling of something sure to come
Clay holding patterns of skin
fleshing, pressing out like a cradle.
The feeling expands in response to the continued pressure.
The lines become marks of presence.
You have to coax and push and press, to flatten softly.
The grooves of my fingers become channels to return to each time as I pull back to take note.
I curl back around