Being Artist-in-Residence at Canterbury Cathedral is a great opportunity and one that I am very excited about. The opportunity to make work in response to research in their archives and to work with their archivists and conservationists will I hope provide, not necessarily a new direction for my practise, but add another type of experience and a chance to learn new skills.
I have always lived only 12 miles from Canterbury Cathedral so since childhood it has been a place that I have visited often. However, I have really only been aware of just how significant this place is in terms of my family history since I first researched in it’s archives back in the late 1980’s.
My Great Uncle Lionel Spratling was visiting from the USA . He knew that there were several Sprakelings (the name changed over the years) buried in Canterbury Cathedral and wanted to find out more about them as he thought they were ancestors. My Dad, Lionel and I spent a happy afternoon researching in the archives, making notes and finding the headstones. It’s funny thinking back to this and realising that this was probably the beginning of my fascination with the Spratling family but had no inkling at this time that they would become the focus of my practise as an artist.
Since becoming the keeper of my family archives some years ago it came as surprise to find this little engraving of John Whitgift amongst some old documents and wills. Research has found the same engraving amongst the National Portriat Gallery’s collections and they have it dated as 17th century by an unknown artist. John Whitgift was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1583 until his death in 1604 and it is very puzzling why this little print should be amongst my family papers.
Whilst I doubt I will find the answer to this within the Cathedral archives and it is not my immediate focus for my residency, it is these connections that have influenced the desire to work and research there and see where it takes me.