TRAVELOG

Susan Slann

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A new installation of painting, prints and found material.

Sat 10th November – Sat 15th December 2012
Thursdays – Saturdays 11.00am – 4.00pm
and by appointment

Admission is free.

Everything was as it should be. Pulling off the motorway and into the  service station, she drove round an empty car park behind the petrol pumps,  shop and American-style diner. There it was, just as the small photograph  had shown on the website when she had booked the week before.

The architecture, whilst lacking in distinction, wasn’t strictly functional.  The single storey building had a ranch-like quality, perhaps based on a marketing department’s concept of a motel as seen in some half-forgotten movie.  It was domestic in scale and appearance and could easily have been mistaken for  a community centre on any housing estate anywhere in the country.  The feeling of familiarity offered by this first impression, whilst comforting,  was accompanied by a faintly unsettling sense of déjà vu.

She went in and the door swung to behind her, shutting out the incessant noise  of motorway traffic to which she had been oblivious until this moment of absence.  A cocoon of silence enveloped her and, as her ears became accustomed to her  surroundings, she thought she could distinguish muffled voices somewhere nearby.

There was no one about. The lobby and reception were deserted.  A drinks machine stood in one corner, too large for the space.  Its faux-wood facia matched nothing else. A plastic cup was placed in the  cavity at the front in anticipation of dispensing beverages. She noticed a floorplan  fixed to the wall next to the reception desk. She crossed the lobby, her footsteps  leaving no trace on the course grey-blue carpet tiles which absorbed all sound,  wear and tear. The faint murmur of voices continued, merging with the distant hum  of machinery; perhaps a vacuum cleaner or air conditioning.

After several attempts, hindered by an irrational feeling of increasing anxiety,  she let herself into room 301. The curtains were closed and there was a slightly  musty odour, but the room appeared to be clean. The curtains, which were of a  stiff synthetic fabric formed into pleats, covered the window area exactly with  no extraneous material. Their blue-grey decorative pattern seemed incongruous,  except that its grid-like motif was consistent with the spare décor of the room.

She checked the bathroom. It was brightly lit, in contrast to the dimmed  overhead lighting of the bedroom. A small portion of white soap, wrapped in a  cellophane pack bearing the company logo, was balanced on a pair of clear plastic  cups upended on a formica shelf. The double toilet roll holder was reassuringly  stocked up, thus obviating the need to call room service. The tiles around  the bath shower cubicle showed the random traces of perfunctory wiping and  a few droplets of water still clung to the shiny white shower curtain.

Back in the bedroom, she noticed a copy of The Bible in the half-opened  drawer of the bedside cabinet. A cordless kettle and two white mugs stood on  the dressing table work surface beneath a wide mirror, which effectively doubled  the size of the room. On closer inspection she realised that one of the mugs was  the reflection of the other. Next to the kettle, she found a small tray which contained  four sachets of instant coffee, some sugar, two small tubs of UHT milk and a tea spoon.

She filled the kettle in the bathroom and boiled it for coffee.  The sofa was too firm and not very comfortable, so she chose to sit in the white  plastic chair and put her feet up on the bed. Gazing around the room she saw  that the paintwork was shabby and that the walls over the radiators were slowly  blackening from heat. Here and there, other indefinable traces betrayed signs  of previous occupancy.

Her attention was drawn to a painting on the wall opposite the bed.  From where she sat it reminded her of a painting that she had seen somewhere  before in an exhibition, Altermodernism perhaps, but which she could not positively  identify. The gestural brush marks in red and blue held her attention for several minutes  as she tried to remember this other painting and where she might have seen it.  As she drank her coffee she found she could not retrieve the absent painting,  which surely existed somewhere in her memory. She got up out of the chair and walked over  to inspect the canvas on the opposite wall. It wasn’t a painting after all, at least not  as she had supposed.

The ‘Travelog’ describes a seemingly pointless journey, moving from one Travelodge  hotel to another, recording the experience through a kind of visual diary; using printed  lino-cut images to illustrate various aspects, which are familiar to these iconic low budget hotels.

Travelodge has become part of our social landscape. The memories we hold of these hotels  are usually linked to other experiences; journeys for occasions, business, pleasure, holidays,  love, death and sorrow. They are the functional stays of convenience, with the provision of  basic needs and low expectation.

A room at a Travelodge provides refuge and anonymity.
You know what you are getting, therefore there can be no disappointment.

Susan Slann 2012

Susan Slann is a resident artist at Crescent Arts, where she has been working from her studio  over the past two years. Prior to this, her last solo exhibition was at Summit Print in  Kirkbymoorside in 2008. Susan has participated in several recent group exhibitions including  ‘Home’, Leeds (2011); ’53 Degrees North’ (2010) at Schoolhouse Gallery, York; Ryedale Folk  Museum, Hutton-le Hole (2010); Leeds Open (2010); Ferens Open, Hull (2008/10).  She has shown new and collaborative work at Crescent Arts on a number of occasions,  within group exhibitions including The Drawing Room (2011); Supermart (2012) and  Soundings (2012). She was short-listed for Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2007.  She completed an MFA at Leeds University in 2010 following a BA Fine Art at  University of Hull (2007) and Diploma in ‘Art in a Social Context’ at Dartington  College of Arts (1983).

For further information please visit  www.susanslann.com