Day One: Arrival.
After driving in the torrential rain I arrived at Hospitalfields this afternoon. I’ve settled into my room and had a brief look around this amazing building – so far it feels like staying in a national trust property. We’ve been well fed by Chef Simon – a yummy beetroot and feta pie (with star pastry on top!), finishing with apple crumble. An initial introductions to each other through a brief introduction of our interests & self through discussions of an object we brought.
I’ll be blogging about this two-week residency daily until we finish on the 17th of November. To see and learn more about the residency, location and other participants go: HERE.
(image: Cut Mill, 2019, D. Maier)
Our final day started with watching the sunrise from the top of the tower out my bedroom – where a weather-beaten sundial tells the time. The low cloud cover sadly meant no sun to watch rising – so a later trip up the tower caught the dial actually telling the time.
In the morning we packed up and meet one last time as a group in the refectory for a final goodbye. María gave a farewell speech in Icelandic and while I may not have known the words I understood the meaning – the importance of our time here for productivity, place and people. Especially of people coming together and sharing in a special time, in a special place.
We have all moved our practices on farther than the usual two weeks would allow; we have bonded as a group and made new friends and networks; we have experienced the benefits Hospitalfield has to offer as a place for artists to come live and make within its walls for over a hundred years; and we have been well fed.
I know I personally leave full: of ideas, progression, thoughts, new works, memories, conversations, new friends, and a very full belly.
Many thanks to Hospitalfield and the other participants on the residency for the support and productive time.
To see more about Hospitalfield and other residents on the November Interdisciplinary residency with me go HERE.
Final full day here at Hospitalfield, sadly finishing up, reflecting, and final tests. A live reading in the drawing-room revealed some interesting new insight into the piece. Also spent time reflecting on the work created, developed, tested and focused on – looking at what has been learned/figured out during the two weeks helps to give insight into what has been achieved, clarity on the work and what still needs to be done.
Thoughts and conversations highlights from today: Megaphone as a audio link to the past; going slower and giving time; moving in and out of past/present; connection to the lady of the house’s portrait; eyes and words and dragged coloured bottles; endings and new beginnings; hats and veils on stone sculptures; invisibly moved; ghost gong ringer; cheese and mince pies; titles and phrases; positionality as found and discovered.
I also spend a good part of the morning on continuing the tests with ribbon and ash piles – as taken from Fyrn’s biography seen in yesterday’s blog post.
Playful – fun.
Coming to the penultimate day brings a sense of pressure, sadness and completion. More is becoming clearer and figured out and some things/ideas have been let go. We also had a great visit to the Celtic stone museum St Vigeon’s. I was only going to drop and run -but ended up staying for the full tour.
Thoughts, focus, and conversations today have been on: shifting scales of rug drawings; testing ribbons and ash; unity and playful photos as a group; secret passages; shifting scale of passing time; star-filled skies from balconies; letting go; ‘A bit of mystery is good for the soul’; Celtic knots for meditation; interweaving of work and practices together; finishing and ongoing; decision making; and starting to test something new.
Ribbon arrived today so have started testing visuals from a passage from Fryn – while I’m not there yet with this work but it is a necessary starting pointing.
As written by Joanna Colendbrander in her 1984 biography of Fryn.
1958: After Fryn’s death
“[May] brought with her a sack, a key, scissors, and a variety of tools like a burglar’s outfit, and tugged out a small steam trunk. It had stood padlocked behind the role files for years and was labelled: Letters to be burnt unseen on my death. For the next four hours, bundles were withdrawn, ribbon-bows were removed, and one by one the letters were demolished. There was no mistaking their nature, even with senses numbed with repetition. Doggedly the work went on till the trunk was empty. Only the worthless ribbons were salvaged and folded away in the house-keepers drawer.”
Sabi Pas was the name of Fryn Tennyson Jesse and her husband Tottie’s French home. Sabi Pas is Provençal for I don’t know. I’ve been thinking and reading about this idea of not knowing for a while now — so this house name really resonates with me. The position of ‘I don’t know’ in relation to: art practice, researching, supportive listener and as a pedagogical position.
The story of the house name is told by Fryn Tennyson Jesse in her 1935 publication ‘Sabi Pas Or, I Don’t Know’:
‘[The previous owner] a very charming French gentleman, explained to us the meaning of the words “Sabi Pas”. The man who had originally built the house some seventy or eighty years earlier had, so it was told, given a party to his friends when the house was completed and to those friends he appealed for assistance in choosing a name. No name that was suggested pleased him and at last he turned to Monsieur le Curé: “Mon père,” said he, “What shall I call the house?”
The Curé, who was an old Provençal of peasant stock, shrugged his shoulders and said “Sabi pas!” – meaning that he did not know. The owner, who was a Frenchman from other parts, thought that this was a delightful Provençal name, and accepted it as such enthusiastically. I found myself equally delighted. “I don’t know” is more than a name, it is a phrase; it is more than a phrase – it is a philosophy.’
Woke to a lovely frost covering the ground and glinting in the sunlight streaming across it – so a walk to the beach first thing seemed appropriate. I was nice and toasty with my hot water bottle in my bag against my back. (hot water bottle is my new best friend) The artwork processing at a good pace – lots of bits are becoming clearer and details are being figured out. A full long day and night in the Studio – I never seem to find enough hours in the day.
Thoughts today focused around: marble slabs or porcelain tiles; vinyl quotes for drawing; writing/not writing; titles have been clarified; drawing and redrawing the rug; over and over and over-laid; testing gros point and petit point together; a futile search for ribbons; Sabi Pas – Provencal for ‘I don’t know’ as a position, a movement; stay away from email (hard); poached pear; tea cake.