so here we are at the middle of august and our time in the space coming to an end. saying goodbye to the space was emotional – i hadn’t realised until it came to an end how much i had invested into being in the space.
i’ve looked forward to writing this reflective post about the time in the space and now i’m here there’s so many thoughts about the time i’m going to take a moment to collect my thoughts.
has the time in the space been beneficial ? yes
has the time in the space helped me to do things i wouldn’t have done ? yes
would i apply again to a meanwhile space ? yes
all this on the back of the space being available for less time than was originally hoped for.
what might you have gone on to do, if the space was available for 2 more months ? i would have gone on to research how to stage the work i’ve made in the first month. i would have started the conversations i didn’t start in the first month. i would have tried going back to sitting and being bored again.
is that something you had already done ? yes. coming into the residency phase in the meanwhile space it was my opening gammet – slightly tongue in check to be honest, but there was some substance behind it. coming off the back of a very long project that had got under my skin a fair bit, i felt like i was starting a fresh period of research in my practice. in sitting and allowing myself to get bored i was investigating where i would take my creative interests in a space that was pretty much just that.
how did the sitting and getting bored pan out for you? to be honest it was informed by the first meeting in the space with liz from eaststreet arts and thomas – the other artist on the residency. the ground floor has such a wide window that it was like looking at a widescreen projection of it in a space.
did you make anything on the back of that early stimulation ? yes. i took one single shot of me looking out at the spot and created a sketch in the form of a non linear work
did that lead to anything more developed ? not really. to be honest i became a bit obsessed by the view out the window and this obsession eventually led me to move my position in the space as i became uncomfortable sitting so squarely on with the public the other side of the window.
weren’t you tempted to engage with them ? thats a good question. i was but there were some difficulties that seemed unsolvable.
what were they? firstly the duration of the residency and the time of year. a month didn’t seem to be too much time to set something up from scratch. what this actually did for me was to highlight my own lack of connection with local groups. i realised if i was in good connection that we collectively could have done something in the space.
was there anything else ? yes. being on my own. i realised that if i wanted to engage with the public outside in real time – ie within something that evolved, that i would need to be with others to help me. it came down to safety to be honest. i didn’t feel safe at the thought of engaging with the public on my own in such a loosely bounded space.
ok. it sounds like that was something you considered a lot. yes it was. there we were, large space, near where members of the public gathered. you know what, now i think back about it, there was a certain amount of not knowing what to do – i mean it was something i hadn’t had experience of such a situation before and without someone or a group to collaborate with, i found it too difficult to resolve the interest in engaging with the previously unconnected with people outside.
ok. so you’ve made the non linear sketch and worked through wanting to engage but circumstances being too much to resolve. what did you do next ? i’m not sure to be honest. well hang on, that’s not quite right. before the residency began i had volunteered myself to try to respond to a poem about locked in syndrome.
what’s that ? it’s a condition where your body is paralysed except for possibly your eye lids. you can hear everything but have little or no way of responding to stimulus.
so what did you do ? within the obsession with the main window i did have a quick look at beginning to respond to the poem. my original idea was to invite someone else to read the poem and to create a visual story to accompany the reading. to be honest this sat and still sits a little awkwardly – is it ok to create a film based on a poem? i had to answer that myself – by diving in and having a go.
who ended up reading the poem? well. it became very clear very quickly that i wasn’t going to attract any uptakes to the invitation.
so what did you do ? i decided to read it myself.
really ? yes. again high levels of awkwardness, not least because reading out loud is particularly challenging for me because of my neurodiversity.
how was it for you ? i’m pleased to say it turned out reasonably ok. if i take into account where the first reading was to the last – i improved and managed to achieve some level of intonation and meaning within the reading of the words.
cool. so you have a reading of the poem and initial research into an aesthetic for it. how did the work progress ? not very well at first to be honest. that initial visual excerp i made really dulled my enthusiasm for making the film – it felt very wide of where it needed to be, even though at that stage i didn’t know where that was.
so what did you do ? i ignored the poem and went exploring around the building. away from the massive window got me to look closer at the space and what was in it. eventually up on the top floor my boredom drew me to the furniture up there and in particular the legs of the table. long storey short, in getting bored i tested the sound of the building being hit by the table leg. this led me to create another video sketch of me knocking.
at the time i didn’t realise how liberating making this was. i’d taken a playful act and through the action of playing had led myself to some critical thinking. this act of creation helping me to remember how it is to create. the process. the blind faith in the gut feeling to do something. often within the actions of creating that gut feeling is circumvented by external influences.
i’d go as far to say that the manner in which the residency had been set up led me to feel comfortable enough to do something uncomfortable and not be precious about where it might lead.
that’s really wonderful to hear.
so you made the sketch. did this one lead anywhere ? it did actually. i’d noticed there where three chairs in the back of the knocking shot. my spatially balanced sense was triggered – to spread the three chairs across the shot.
ok. so you spaced the chairs. did this lead to anything else? yes. i revisited the knocking at first, got bored and sat down. in sitting realised i could do other things with the chairs and filmed myself in the space interacting with the chairs. it was good fun and at that time didn’t know what i would do with the content i’d created.
ace. i’m visualising you running around the space. what did thomas make of all this ? he wasn’t there that day to see it. our schedules were such that we only were ever in the space at the same time a few times. i was there one time when he was editting some images and it felt a privilege to be part of the conversation around how he put a set of images together for a show.
did you share what you’d been doing with thomas. yes i think so. looking back, we did so much between us that it’s difficult to remember all the twists and turns. like i sit here now and am trying to think how i made the jump with the poem film.
what do you mean ? while playing and making sketches on the top floor i made the jump to placing myself within the film about the poem.
something about the space and it’s lack of resources had set me up to reject taking in loads of stuff – limiting it all to what i could carry. in using the table leg to make a sound and filming myself doing this – i had made my physical self a resource with what to create with.
was this somthing completely new to you ? no. as an undergraduate i’d made a silent artist film entitled aestethic of evolution. in it i can be seen emptying a puddle with a tea spoon. the openness of the residency, the duration and the physical contents of the space had taken me back to place where i was physically expressing again. like performing i guess.
sounds good. makes me think of performance artists from the 1970’s. stuart brisley comes to mind. i liked his slapping work and Relics of Aul’Dacency made with the dustmen in dublin.
so are you saying you returned to the poem ? yes. seeing differently how i might use my own physical self in shots for the film i began a different approach. i knew from what the anonymous author had said on the dear york entry that they like nature and i had shot some footage outdoors during the lockdown last year. so i started to look at this while considering how i might create shots to sit alongside the poem.
long story short, the focus in the residency for me shifted to the poem once i had made the jump to visualise the first verse. with that working it set the rest of it up for me. well at least the creative chain to resolve the questions that came about as a result of making a start.
there were other small creative distractions and if we continued further i would have developed these a bit more.
cool. so returning to the poem film. did you complete it ? yes, pretty much. i have all the content, the editting is 95% there and i’d like to add some subtitles to make it as accessible as possible. the process of editting and production has taken me into aspects of working with video i’ve not really touched upon too much really. this has happened as i’ve been able to hear myself asking the questions and been present enough and confident enough to try to answer them. i think in all cases i’ve found some sort of answer to what i asked.
that’s great. so what happens next ? we soon enter the support sessions and i’m looking forward to those. i return to the edit after a few days away from it, check and add subtitles. i’m up for evaluating the residency time too. i’ve got a lot out of it so i want to tell eaststreet arts and their funders that – i think it’s important for them to know.