First Residency (or how I survived my first residency) Blog First Residency (or how I survived my first residency) Blog Fri, 18 Apr 2014 00:22:28 +0000 a-n rss generator a-n The Artists Information Company and contributors a-n project blog [1 April 2012]   Tomorrow will be the start of my first residency! Hailing from just outside London and residing in Hatch Space, I am curious about the amount of space and empty buildings as my Megabus rolled off the motorway and into Liverpool. Coming from the South where houses are seldom left abandoned but collected by private investors looking to improve their property portfolios, it comes as a bit of surprise to see that amount of space left empty. New Ferry itself is a small place, the High Street is very small and mostly vacant now. The New Ferry Butterfly Park COMMA space is in this collection of buildings. Most interestingly the shop shows signs of being a house previously, with a bath included in the bathroom. It is a large space, newly carpeted (sigh) and quite a daunting space to fill. Also nearby is a load of interesting places to visit including Port Sunlight - idealistic Victorian urban planning and The Wilfred Owen Story - dedicated to the life of one of my favourite poets. I hope to get these guys involved with the Butterfly Park while I'm here. Considering the short amount of time in this space, I think that I could make a good work of facilitating different local community groups and working with them. I'm thinking participation, connections and engagement as opposed to a solitary approach to making work. So today I have been walking around Liverpool scouting out the galleries and interesting spots in as its been my first time in this part of England. I went to shows at Bluecoat (great) FACT (slightly broken) and Arena studios ( massive old tv!). Look forward to more exploring while I'm in the area and making work of course! But I hope my refurb netbook holds out – the wifi keeps dying, quite alarming! It seems that more and more of my work as an artist is dependent on online facilities and networking, not to mention media editing software!  ... Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 [4 April 2012] Day #3   It's day 3 of the residency and the space is pretty quite apart from the odd visitor. Over the past few days I have been located at the front of the space playing what seems to be my profession - front of house. While doing this I have been organising my workshops and working on getting people in to use the space and use the New Ferry Butterfly Park. The workshops are still in the air a bit. We have no dates, no confirmed groups and no confirmed equipment as of yet, but I guess things are going to take shape very quickly. Monday was a day of lists, Teusday was a day of meetings and today I have been talking to a very friendly and enthusiastic local poet for a good hour while adding another sign to the window in a vain attempt to push the urgency of come-in-and-use-this. Problem is people come into the high street to buy things, not to hang out. And the weather has been quite abysmal too. Yesterday we met the very kind people from The Wifred Owen Story. This is a museum in Birkenhead set up to commemorate and preserve the life and work of the said local Great War poet. We talked about setting up  poetry group locally. And using the Butterfly Park as a place to read and perform. This idea came about after a talk at Metal on Monday, I came away with two very useful words: START SOMETHING Well, I'll try. People are already paying more attention to the space, it will just take time for people to sum up some courage and cross the threshold. In the meantime I am trying to get groups in to bypass this. Ideas thrown around so far include a performance of Bullets and Daffodils in different places in New Ferry, a poetry group and a talk in the care hostel where I am currently residing. Oh and we talked about making ceramic sculptures! I hope some of these bare fruit but I need people to get together, I need collaborators.  ... Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 [5 April 2012] It's day four and I'm coming to the end of the first week of the residency. The sun is out today. We've had more people coming in and for the first time a volunteer has come by to help promote the space and the park, leaving me some time to get to grips with the wealth of material on the different types of butterfly species. I also have been given a key to the park and a personal tour with Carol, her kids and volunteer Jean-Pierre who takes photographs of the park. There are little in the way of butterlflies there as of yet but still there are a lot of other signs of life coming through. The soil is laced with lime, tiny stones and pieces of glass here and there. Cats have year round free access. Otherwise workshops are looking good with a local film maker on board to help out with shooting and editing. Just waiting for group confirmation! A lot of work for me appears to be organisation together with a frantic period of production near the end. I think it will be the case with this residency. I am also helping to put together a show for my london studio Hatch Space. It is a strong show with a lot of good work being made for the first time. I will put on small snippets of info as I get them confirmed but I hope that the artists will get some well deserved acclaim for their efforts! In the meantime I am looking forward to making new systems, poems and living a partial hermit-like existance in the Butterfly Park.    ... Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 [9 April 2012] #4 It is Easter Bank holiday and I am in the space using the internet and getting my photos taken over last week organised. After thursday I decided to have a break and went to visit my great aunt over a couple of days. She lives with her husband in Wales in the depths of the glyn valley. Life is very different from London and north Surrey, very different from New Ferry. Their house is built on great rocks, the windows are small to keep the heat in, they use coal to heat the one of their ovens and they have a cast iron wood burning fireplace in the lounge. Outside of the house is a river which in English translates as 'raging bull' and their garden keeps several broods of ducks and chickens. While here I took a series of photos on slide film which I hope to develop from a walk around the local area. There is no large community of people there as such and the presence of nature is much more keenly felt. I walked up a country path round the corner of 'house on the rock' and the trees are so thick they block out the light. Making my way up I wondered who dug out these paths and for what purpose. The greatest sight for me was one of these massive trees had fallen down but was being held horizontal by the many trees standing. Coming back on the train to Rock Ferry a girl got on dressed head to toe in Adidas: red and orange clothes, blue cap and trainers with long straight blonde hair. It took about an hour's travelling to go from Welsh valley to Wirral suburb and this creates such a difference in dress, lifestyle, language and leisure.... Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 [10 April 2012] It is the second day of the second week of my residency. I have been online a lot today organising various different workshops and projects to be undertaken over the next few weeks. To my delight I have the full support of the Wilfred Owen Story: I will be working with them while I am here in New Ferry. We will be hopefully organising some performance work over the next few weeks. I have been looking to Emma Smith's works for some pointers as to how she handles collaborative performance based work: What I like about her work is that it is eloquent in its realisation yet practical and achievable in concept. She uses systems, like me, to remove herself from the work and to involve others. I am slowly building up a collection of Haikus. I will also get more material from Sunday's workshop. I hope to use this to make an extended dialogue, breaking up and reorganising words to make something different. I am also going to combine this on video. There is some awareness to the landscape throughout this project that interests me. It is not grounded just in the butterfly park but also in Port Sunlight and the area of Wales I recently visited. Some way we relate to the environment. It is not just ecology, it is also communal, social. Tthis provides a oretext to my work at the moment.    ... Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 [13 April 2012] #6 It is Friday evening and I am in the space on Bebington Road. The high street is closed mostly and everything is quietish in the evening's remaining glow. I have just finished the prep for my workshop this Sunday and we have roughly 10 people booked so far.  Over the past few days I have suspended my haiku habit in favor of preparing things for Sunday and the following weeks. I now have a performance in the works - a monologue to be learned and recited by an actor in the guise of Wifred Owen. I have been selecting pieces from a selection of his poems fortuitously brought with me and am spending time in the space cutting up words and sticking them with Tombo onto bit of coloured paper. In the past I have done this type of work but in my head, but cutting and pasting is a very different ball game, Not much yet but I am about to go a little crazy with tiny bits of paper! My workshop has been designed for creative thought rather than learning a particular technique. It is about looking and spending time with words and the subject. My strongest works follow this idea, so I take time on them as much as I can. That is really what the workshop will be about - and making this duration of working into just a handful of words. I have however injured my thumb with a tiny stapler which has hindered things somewhat. Nevermind, I have something to work on now which is great. Reading the recent article on Sonia Boyce's work I sympathise with the draining aspect of a residency. Particularly if you are attempting to co-curate a show and promote yourself to the community at the same time. But being able to have the freedom to make your own work out of the commitments of paid work is a great pay off. By the end of next week I should have a new video work, a performance and be well on the way to having a sculpture for the park.... Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 [17 April 2012] it is the beginning of the third week here and as my residency is drawing to a close a feeling of mild panic is beginning to settle in. However things are going well. My workshop on Sunday was attanded, if not well attended. But I have material to work with which is good. New Ferry's resident film maker Johan dropped by today with the footage - about an hour for use in a short film. I have decided to use the facilities at FACT to edit it. Lets use this time to do things properly. Unfortunately I can't get the Wilfred Owen Story involved in my time here as we're both too busy. I am planning a week ahead already and not using the present to make work. Things should settle down however as I am working throughmy plans for next week. Today I had a talk in Clifford Grange where I am staying - targetting a group of people under represented in arts: the over 60's. It was all very different for them but no fainting or shallow breathing, only the occasional bouts of laughter from my anecdotes about the performances I have done in the past. With the enjoyment of the older generation to reflect on I headed over to receive the footage from Johan, we figured out how to work the small tv screen in the space and I parted for some tea and crisps back where I'm staying before making my way down to Leaf where I am now because, hey, I'm here to enjoy myself too.   I have attached some photos of what I'm working on - an event score/performance device made from paper and ideas for a clay sculpture for the park. Carol wants me to use ordinary clay but I'm a bit paranoid about bits of clay exploding in the firing - in short I want to make something I have no experience in making. But its not the first time I have been successful at doing this.... Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 [23 April 2012] Great. I have just edited my film in FACT using their state-of-the-art film tech. It took me all of my alotted time to edit my 2 gig odd short video which I will be screening on Friday. It is fairly simple, but I want to bring out the rawness of the beautiful footage shot by a local film maker called Johan who volunteers for the park. In the film itself, just for a-n bloggers (sssh!), I have arranged the poetry created in my Haiku workshop contiguous to the footage so that it appears, then vanishes. Most of the poems when read confidently last for about 5 seconds: an ephemeral act. And now I am in Leaf, drinking away my nervousness of editing the film within the alotted time (I have only the funds for one session) and blogging. I spent quite a while yesterday in FACT cafe writing but it was all for nought as my wifi cut out. But it is over and now I just have to sort out the display for Friday (on top of a workshop thursday eve). On that subject, we have a group of 30 Brownies turning up for that workshop on Thurs - we have a group using Comma space! And they will be helping me with my clay sculpture. It will not be made during the time that I am here but I am going to make instructions for completion and installation. It is at this point in my practice when I am leaving works for other people to complete in my absence. Hatch[ED] is happening in Hatch Space on Friday: and I have a piece in the show which is a collaboration piece with artist and friend Jack Brown. It is called Olivia and uses systems to organise a series of 100 coloured cards. Instructions stemmed from my performance work. However, as I have branched out into bigger more material pieces I have needed to use them for other people to complete in a similar way to my performances. Go see Hatch[ED]. Well, I think that's everything for now. If you are in Liverpool or Wirral come down to New Ferry and be part of a project with real community importance on Friday, I will welcome you. I will screen my homage to the Butterfly Park and perform, also see the many clay tiles! I have put a lot of effort in, all I ask is for your attendance.  ... Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 [25 April 2012] It is preparation time again for Friday's event and tomorrow's workshop. I have a group of 20 children in attendance for tomorrows meeting which is good. It seems that if you are doing a community based arts project for a location there are two good strategies for getting people into the space: invite school groups or youth groups and go where the people ar.e. Groups are great because everyone knows each other and there is more chance of obtaining higher numbers if you can get past the organisation; going where the people are means that you can work in a drop-in basis with people, promoting your cause (if any) or the space you have the funding for and connecting new communities. Drop-ins within a space are risky as you are never quite sure how many people will turn up, but if your workshops are good then you can build up a fan base over time and before you know it you'll be understaffed! I will be making all the tiles tomorrow so the clay is soft enough for maximum detail, only 30 to make! In the photo at the top you can see Carol's and mine. They are unique and really fun to make. I like that the residency has resulted in not only making performance work, but has led to a few different responses taking in different approaches to processing and presenting information: either in a very material, process based sense of using clay or in a digitised, non-linear form of a video which can be transported and viewed in any number of locations. Yesterday I went to FACT's Open Curate It talk - the internet of things and the stuff of experience. Concept linked to concept: The Cloud-of-Messages, The-Egg-of-Running-Down-A-Corridor. It is really interesting that the internet is integrating itself into our experience even more completely, not in an invasive way but in a more passive complete fashion. it is not like the Futurist Manifesto hailing Modernism with a car crash. It is social. It is like shaking hands. So I am thinking of using twitter in my next performance, compressing Owens poetry and making something different using the format of tweets on twitter. I am thinking of inviting people to make a photo album collected from people's camera phone photos of my performance as a document. But I am unsure quite how to go about this. In the meantime the projector is set up and is amazing. If you need a loan projector make friends with the former headteacher of a local school, that's my advice. Well, lots in store for Friday night. I will be at the Liverpool Art Prize tomorrow night in Metal if anyone is there.... Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000 [30 April 2012] This will be my final post on this blog - a brief post-residency account. I have made a small number of clay tiles for a sculpture, a short video and a performance during my residency. Is that a fair amount of work for a month? True, I have had to learn how to wedge clay, use Final Cut Pro when making the video and the tiles. My role as an artist, or rather as a maker, is slightly different to those with more material ends to their practice. Over the course of the last month, together with the exhibition at Hatch Space where I am exhibiting a collaborative piece too, I found that I have spent a lot of work not on my made pieces but on interacting with people.  I have shown my practice to pensioners, not artists. I have taught Brownies how to press different plants into clay tiles and make sentences using the words of local war poet Wilfred Owen. I have talked to local poets, homeless ex prisoners, volunteers, children and all the mix of different people who live in New Ferry.  Bebington Station is twenty minutes away from the cultural hub of Liverpool. Lady Lever Art Gallery is 5 minutes from the Comma project space. Yet life-long local residents have not yet visited New Ferry Butterfly Park. People do not vary from their day to day routine spatially that often.  Yet if we take these projects on board and learn more about what is near to us, we could possibly come closer to resolving problems within local communities. New Ferry needs investment; there are no corners to be cut in this area. What I have tried to do in my little time here is to make work with people, connecting them so that they might use the space as a place to pool resources and to interact with something different to what the local area has to offer if only on a very brief basis. I have not finished with New Ferry yet either: I still have to get my clay tiles fired and hung. I am hoping that I have made a solid set of tiles and that the Brownies will get to see their hard work in the park. I have put up my video on my youtube channel for people to see. Here is the link: It is not the perfect version - I will put  one up closer to that with just a few minor alterations later. Perfection was always my enemy anyway.... Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00 +0000