Charlotte Cullen: The voice falters

Charlotte Cullen (they/them) is an artist and organiser based in Leeds. Their practice is broadly concerned with steel and its production. Cullen’s practice is shaped by the body and care, explored through the animacy of matter and how material and physical concerns intersect with social class, migration and gendered identity. The landscape, and land ownership, situate this encounter; muddied, uprooted, re-routed, and as sites of familial and historical myth-making. Cullen’s practice encompasses sculpture, installation, mark-making, text and most recently, print as a way of documenting gesture.

With PANIC!, Cullen proposes ways of thinking through the new psychological, social and cultural conditions created by the pandemic. Their project particularly looks at mapping a shifting relationship to the landscape through methods of documenting history through oral and collective tradition. This exploration of ancestral tradition hopes to materialise a period of loosely collective grief and mourning and aims to acknowledge classed disparities in how communities continue to be impacted by the pandemic. This film documents the process of making an etched steel plate; in documenting this process, Cullen presents it as  performance. During the performance we can see the artist dragging the etching plate across landscapes in Armley, Leeds. Marks are made on the etching plate by its contact to the ground. The video includes the audio of the dragged plate interspersed with the vocals of a ‘caoíním’, or keening, a traditional Irish wailing practised at wakes to lament and mark loss. 

The plates created in this performance will be used to produce two print editions which act as testament to the site and encounter. The tangible print alongside the remote encounter considers our shifting ways of being in the precarious present. Prints created by the plates are available in a limited edition of 20 and purchasable from the artist and LUTRA print studio.   

A metal plate leans on a mantle piece alongside a piece of paper with a print from the pate. The plate is an imperfect oval shape with a hole at the top. The marks from the plate show on the print, which is printed in blue.
Two prints from metal plates side by side. One is printed in rusty-brown and one is printed in blue. The prints are similar but slightly different in shape. A shadow from the right hand print splits the image in half.
Wide shot looking down on a white display cabinet, which contains a piece of paper with a print from a metal plate in blue and a neon orange ratchet strap.

Discover the other PANIC! bursary artists

This work is presented as part of the PANIC! (Promoting an Artists’ Network in the Crisis) series of bursaries.

Earlier this year, PANIC! awarded a group of artists in Leeds City Region £5,000 and £1,000 bursaries to support the making of a new contemporary visual artwork or project. The bursaries offered space to create a voice and help us think through the new psychological, social and cultural conditions we face today.

You can find the work of artists Edd Carr, Tyvin Haque, Nikta Mohammadi, ROMA, Lottie Sadd, and Mathew Wayne Parkin here.