Images courtesy of the artist and Samuel Mercer.
The Artist Working Group went to Whitstable Biennial as an expanded meeting of sorts. This idea of leaving London, going on tour and seeing other artists’ work, to me suggested gaining a perspective on what the group was, where it met, and where our practices intersected.
It was also an interesting way of seeing how the group functions without necessarily physically staying together; splitting up as a means of seeing different performances; following our different needs, meeting others; swimming; reconvening.
As part of the festival, we share Hannah Lees lunch menu ‘ The Trees That Yield’ in an attempt to ingest another artists’ interest in community and food. Did the meal bring us together, if we were already a group when we sat down? The experience of eating food neither of us had prepared perhaps levelled the dynamics. There was no host amongst us, the host was the cafe itself with food prepared by unseen bodies behind the scenes. We were not quite guests, as being a guest implies you eat alongside the host, and so we could talk about the experience and the food with some distance. The meal was our main point of discussion, and the dividing up of small quantities of intricately prepared food was something that took a level of sensitivity from all of us sharing it.
We grappled with Lees’ choice of seemingly non-recyclable pots to serve the food in, and what would happen to the heavily beetroot-stained wooden plates after they had been taken away. It seemed in this way, that the act of eating was a one-off event involving each individual or group. The impact of us as a group is evidenced in various ways.
The AWG eating at Hannah Lees’ ‘The Trees that Yield’, Horsebridge Café. Image courtesy of the artist.
The AWG performing in Bernice Donszelmann, Lucy Gunning and Helen Robertson’s ‘[these roarers]’. Image courtesy of the artist.
In Whitstable, empty oyster shells seem to line the paths by the port and fill in the gaps between buildings. Empty oyster shells for cement, for nutrients, for jewellery? The various uses for empty oyster shells, evidenced in the town and on flyers that read ‘Make Oyster Jewellery’ were clues to an ongoing improvisation that is happening with the the existing waste materials and the liminal spaces of the town.
Image courtesy of the artist.
I think we need to go back and make better use of ‘The Party Wall’ however.