I set out with good intentions to write regular posts throughout this project and find I am lacking in this regard. I can make excuses such as juggling 4 school runs a day, then school holidays, 3 other current projects, the ever-ongoing pitches for freelance work, 2 part-time jobs and applications for arts university posts and projects which seem to take me days, sometimes weeks… but these are all my choices, so no excuses…
So, turn this ‘lacking’ on its head and begin at the end, then?
This week we presented our finished residency projects, reports and findings to an audience of stakeholders and participants in Taunton. Our 20-minute slots seemed very short, but that’s what most TED talks are, right? We managed to overrun by 15 minutes though, and still I felt like I’d said not enough. So many walks, conversations, destinations, special places, encounters and photographs. So many notes, ideas, and things I haven’t yet done that I wanted to do.
What did I bring out of my assignment ? Did I bring answers to the original questions?
What’s so special about Taunton’s
green spaces and waterways?
My original sense of place had been vast and fairly featureless, like a huge meadow of untrodden grass – that is now, after just 12 days, surprisingly full of well-used paths, with deep pedestrian channels cutting right through it. Looking at the maps and photos that came out of the walks, yes, lots of special places have indeed been noted, plus lots of reasons why. You can literally see these on the map and hopefully people’s places and opinions will be considered in the Garden Town planning.
What’s the legacy now, though?
I feel like we just got going and we built some momentum, which has now been stalled… this is frustrating, but that’s the nature of projects – they have an end point – or a pause point at least. As I described in the presentation one of the grass labyrinths we created, which is no longer being maintained – “now it’s hibernating for the winter…”
One thing that came out of the presentation was that our interventions were only a tiny part of a much larger whole – and wouldn’t have been possible without all the previous work done by other artists, arts orgs and local stakeholders – such as Somerset Art Works, Somerset Wildlife Trust, local community centres such as Priorswood, TACC, CICCIC, Tacchi Morris, The Brewhouse, Friends of Longrun Meadow, Friends of French Weir, Friends of … this isn’t a full list by any means and of course they all care about this place. It is special and, as ArtsTaunton mentioned “full of potential”.
So the end result is that our work is now part of the story and, when I think of it like that, even if the path chosen changes as a result by 1 degree, the long term results will be (positively I hope) affected – and different than they would have been otherwise.
And, having got to the end, having returned from the journey itself and having grasped the measure of it, I can now run back through it, with my Google Timelines and Esri StoryMaps, and explore that landscape, those places, for myself too.