(SPAM Cuts) Fruiting, by Hayley Jane Dawson
In this SPAM Cut, Alison Scott muses on the gorse-filled, riso-printed foldings of Hayley Jane Dawson’s Fruiting, published by Lunchtime Gallery. Patterns and ‘ruptured scenes of fondness’ point to cartographies of loss and ‘tender resolve’ in this multi-faceted text.
I prise open the two-colour pamphlet, riso-printed and neatly folded into nine, to take in its two flat sides. The first side — the one bearing the title, Fruiting (Lunchtime Gallery, 2022) — is strewn with endearing sketchy drawings in alternating vibrant yellow and mossy green.
There are arched mounds and rolling hills, held within a simplified landscape streaked with handwritten text and swathes of glowy gorse. Groupings of jugs, cups, vases: shaped like the ceramic vessels I know Hayley Jane Dawson makes. A carabiner, annotated as ‘not for climbing’/ ‘a latch for dykes’. Birds. Buds. A bird-human hybrid with breasts and webbed feet. A measuring tape forms a border.
This terrain is overwritten with phrases like those older folk in my family might use, rarely seen written down. ‘Mony a meikle makes a muckle. Let her hing as she grows. A black nebbit craw’. Hayley offers interpretation of the Scots slang: small gestures toward a sharing of language and history between Hayley and those who meet them on the page.
This is the feeling: let me tell you how it is, how it has been.
Flipped, the other side of the paper holds blocky text and two photographs. First, a towel swan on a double hotel bed. Second, a half-drawn curtain and, through the window, a hazy sea and a lump of land.
Between the photographs, Hayley traverses the prickly, burning territory of coupling and uncoupling in first person prose, of lesbian romance lingering in place and memory beyond its end. Sites on the west coast of Scotland I have been to and know — but not like this — are reported back full of acute associations.
Hayley vividly writes the languor of weekends away. The drifting, reflective thinking of day-tripping. Snippets of time away from busy city centres. Walks. Baths. Birdwatching. Fucking. Not fucking. Looking outside from inside. And the ambling buses, in between ruptured scenes of fondness, lust, disappointment and separation. The lucid writing scours its locations with bittersweet personal experiences. If it’s a holiday postcard, it’s been dissolved in the rain, dried, kept.
Spiked and heady, gorse is the central motif, metaphor, and character through which we are led. As a reader I feel myself traipse gingerly behind, into the blazing gorse and Hayley’s account. Through its life cycle, the seasons and the phases of a relationship, gorse embodies possibility, loss and, ultimately, the tender resolve of the writer.
I learn that it's a hardy plant.
Text: Alison Scott