I have an existing blog on Art, Ecology and Learning on wordpress, and am starting this one to focus on the work that stems from my a-n bursary.

This is an introduction to me, and the work that I am planning on carrying out through the bursary, and the exciting things that emerge from that.

So what am I planning?

Firstly I am going to use the bursary to extend my existing collaborative practice with London based artist Karen Wood (I’m based in a small village in Wiltshire). You can read more about our work together here, and follow @UrbanRuralExchange on instagram, or search for #UrbanRuralExchange on Twitter. Karen and I are both Associate Artists with CAS (Chapel Arts Studios) in Andover.

Secondly I’m going to be having a couple of 1:1 sessions with artist/curator Rosalind Davies, exploring the relationship between my largely rurally based practice and artists making related work in cities, developing opportunities for exhibiting/collaborating in more urban settings. I also met Rosalind through CAS when she was invited to come and speak at an event we ran at Winchester School of Art.

Thirdly I am going to be taking joining the Rural Assembly conference in June at The Whitechapel Gallery and Wysing Arts Centre. Wysing was one of the first places I was employed as a professional artist, running a series of workshops there in 1997/8, so its good to be going back.

Here’s how I described the intended benefits in my bursary application

‘As a rurally based artist I can feel disconnected from wider networks and exhibition opportunities. My collaboration with Karen Wood will help combat the isolation and lead to an exhibition in November at Spitalfields Studios. The bursary will enable me to work with Karen in London/Wiltshire, rather than it remaining a largely online collaboration.

I want to build on this initial opportunity, by extending my network to include London based artists and curators, which is why I approached Rosalind. I have spent 20 years since leaving college investing in my socially engaged practice and now want to build my profile as an exhibiting artist.

Lastly, I want to explore how work made in a rural setting can be shown and understood more widely. The conference will enable me to consider how to frame my practice, by placing it within the wider national and international context of rural arts practice.’

Underpinning all my work is an ongoing exploration of how art can enable experiences of continuity and connection, ways and being with the world that are about perceiving it and us as a whole.

I recognise that seeing the world as divided, through inherited ways of seeing and being, leads to us damage the very systems on which we depend. You can read more about this in my blog post Beyond The Binary, and how my work relates/responds to the current climate and ecological crisis here.

I’m thankful for the opportunities that this bursary brings, and excited to be starting out on a new adventure.


Since I last posted in July I’ve had a chunk of time ‘off’ with my son (whilst my Urban Rural Exchange with Karen Wood continued on Instagram), and have also been involved in a number of events, coming together with others to explore ideas of rurality, to reflect on the climate and ecological crises, and offer/receive support.

In a time of ecological breakdown, and related political and identity crises, these assemblies of like-minded people become more and more important, both to my individual practice and my ability to cope with an uncertain future for my family. Big changes are coming as old structures collapse and new ways of being emerge.

Earlier this year I was asked to speak about my piece ‘The Distance Between Us’ as part of a Dark Mountain gathering in Stroud, and I shared how my work was developing in the face of such uncertainty.

‘I don’t have all the answers, but I am feeling my way, asking for guidance from both the human and the more than human worlds. My work is becoming more collaborative, as I open up to connecting with and responding to other artists, writers, educators and animals. I try to be more open about my anxieties for the future, both within my work and my personal life. And I find peace, still, in those quiet moments when I step out into my garden (it doesn’t have to be a forest) and notice the water droplets on the fresh green leaves, or the spiralling tendrils of the climbing French beans. Spring is here and it is wonderful, and I try not to think of what summer might bring.’

You can read more about that here.

In late June I attended The Rural Assembly: Contemporary Art and Spaces of Connection at The Whitechapel Gallery , as part of the research funded by my A-N bursary.

‘(The Rural Assembly) …looks at contemporary artists and creative practitioners who are challenging the assumptions made about rural life and culture, providing a new vision of the countryside grounded in everyday experience and a critique of the rural-urban binary.’

One of the key things that I took away from this event was the need for me to be myself. To accurately and honestly share my practice as an artist based in a rural area. With the majority of ideas of rurality based on romantic notions of clean air and lush greenery, an idealised place to escape to from the city, the reality of rural life needs to be communicated clearly and confidently, in order to be heard alongside the urban voices that often seem to dominate contemporary visual art.

The second day of The Rural Assembly took place at Wysing Arts and I was particularly excited to be part of this more interactive and conversational day, and in a venue where I ran some of my very first arts workshops back in 1997.

As it happened I got half way and had to admit defeat, with trains cancelled at Reading and Cambridge I missed the coach to Wysing from London. Transport is a key issue for me and anyone else living in a rural area who is trying not to drive so much.

The second day was of particular interest to me because it included Queer and Black voices, and being a gay Dad of a black son, I’m keen to connect with others of a similar background whose work explores their experience of living and working in ‘the countryside’.

From The Rural Assembly in late June, I then went along to The Culture Declares Emergency National Assembly at The Roundhouse, Camden in early July. I declared an emergency as an individual artist in April and wrote a blogpost detailing what this might mean for my practice, and was invited to play a small role in this National Assembly, by facilitating a couple of the breakout groups.

I found it to be a very moving and supportive day, coming together with 200 cultural organisations, artists and performers to share what we wanted to let go of and what we needed to develop for the future. Although not specifically related to the issue of rurality, being a part of such events and networks supports me to connect and share in ways that aren’t so easy from within Wiltshire where I live.

I won’t keep adding chunks of text about other events that I’ve been to, as there seem to have been loads recently, except to share a blog post on a Mapping The Future event that I ran as part of my Asking Andover Residency with Andover Museum this Summer:

‘In a time of climate and ecological breakdown, the financial risks that Brexit poses, and the rise of far right/Nationalist politics, how can Andover reconnect with the landscapes, rivers and ecosystems on which it depends, whilst providing homes, work and community spaces for its diverse community? “We need a town that with places for meeting, connecting and sharing”was for me the main message that came out of the session.’

So what next?

Karen Wood and I have our exhibition at Spitalfields Studios in November, kicking off with an event on the evening of Thursday 7th November, and including an Open Day and Artist Walk on Saturday 9th. The exhibition will celebrate the culmination of a year-long collaboration, partly supported by my A-N bursary.

This Thursday 5th September we will be out and about, on our sixth collaborative walk, and our first since Salisbury. I’ll be meeting Karen at Cannings St tube station and walking with her to City Island. The place of water within the city has been a key theme in recent walks, and City Island combines new ‘exclusive’ architectural development with older buildings, birdlife and the Thames itself.

Karen and I are also giving a talk about Urban Rural Exchange on Thursday evening at 6.30 and 8.30pm, at Spitalfields Studios, as part of the Studios’ Late Summer Party and the Refresh group exhibition. Both Thursday events are part of the Whitechapel Gallery First Thursdays.

Finally, I was planning on joining the Climate Strikes on 20th September but have chosen to join Future Proof at The Arnolfini in Bristol, and take part in the strikes on the 27th instead. I’m keen to develop further conversations with others in my region and this Visual Arts SW event seems the perfect next piece in that jigsaw:

‘Our speakers will address: post-truth politics and the accelerated aggregation of wealth that obstruct effective responses to ecological decline; the importance of hearing young voices as an essential driving force of social change; pedagogical and activist traditions in collective working; and the resilience, solidarity and care required to sustain diverse artistic and curatorial practices.’

My A-N bursary has supported me to reach out from my local context and engage with others on subjects that are important to me. It’s not about escaping the limits of a rural setting to become someone else, it’s about seeing what I do with new eyes and understanding the wider context within which I place my work. With that comes a renewed sense of purpose and a greater confidence in the value of what I have to offer.

(Then of course there’s prorogation, the UN Climate Summit and the coming October Rebellion with XR… I might have to leave those for another time.)



As we plan our exhibition together at Spitalfields Studios in November, Karen Wood and I are looking at how we can invite people into our collaboration, to share our working processes of noticing and recording.

This is in part informed by my 1:1 conversation with curator Rosalind Davis earlier this year, where we discussed how I can make the most of existing exhibition opportunities and working relationships; drawing on existing networks, and linking events and exhibitions together to make the most of current opportunities, rather than moving too quickly onto the next one.

Karen and I are working with CAS (Chapel Arts Studios) to develop a walking and drawing event in Salisbury city centre in October. Funding permitting this will see us sharing our working processes with members of the public, by leading drawing walks from the Market Square, to Salisbury Museum.

We visited Salisbury in June to carry out research for this event, and to take our walks together into a new location. Although a city, Salisbury has many of the elements of rurality that we have explored together in our other Wiltshire walks, with water meadows and open river frontage in the heart of the city.

Starting in the Market Square, we walked towards the Cathedral Close, stopping to draw with wax blocks and tape, and take photographs, mapping features of interest for future walks.

After reaching the Museum we moved to the River Avon, testing out different routes that we might take through the city in October. Salisbury sits at the confluence of 5 rivers, which are key to its history and culture. We are keen to draw attention both to the surfaces that we walk on, and what lies beneath them, including the path of water as it flows through a city. This also links to my current research into the relationship between rivers and human bodies with US based artist Kathy Skerritt.

My bursary from A-N is enabling me to explore how my different collaborations support me as an artist based in a rural location. I was invited onto BBC Wiltshire last week to talk about why Karen and I set up URE and what role it plays for me as a rurally based artist. You can have a listen here from 1hr 12 to 1 hr 17.

Maintaining a dialogue with artists like Karen (London) and Kathy (Cleveland, Ohio), and others closer to home including Wiltshire based artists Jo Beal and Jonathan Mansfield, is proving key to the ongoing development of my ‘individual’ (as opposed to socially engaged) work.

My practice has always been about people’s relationship with place, whether my own or the many people I’ve worked with in educational and community settings over the years. But this new focus on collaboration is allowing me to invest in my ‘individual’ practice in a new way, building a supportive community of place-based practitioners, and a clearer context within which to place my work. This makes it more sociable (and fun), expands on my opportunities to reflect and to share ideas, and by doing so deepens my thinking and makes my practice more sustainable.

NB. I’ll be exhibiting with Jonathan Mansfield at Pound Arts in early 2020. Together we will be exploring the relationship between my embodied experiences of place, and Jon’s emotional/spiritual responses to the land. I’ll share more about that as details are confirmed.



Yesterday I went on my 4th Urban Rural Exchange walk with collaborator Karen Wood. In our last walk we followed the path of the canal from Kings Cross, and this time we started at Canary Wharf, before as Karen put it, following the water through the docks and quays and the Mudchute City Farm, under the River Thames to Greenwich.

As I mentioned in my last post, my ongoing work with Karen forms part of the work enabled by my bursary, in addition to attending The Rural Assembly conference and receiving 1:1 support from Artist/Curator Rosalind Davis.

I met with Rosalind earlier this month, and found it really useful, although not perhaps in the way I imagined. When I applied for the bursary and included mentoring sessions I imagined myself focusing on making new contacts and developing new exhibition opportunities, building networks and planning shows.

That is still a key part of what I am doing, but what I have realised is that the time to sit and reflect, to discuss what I want to achieve and why, is in itself really important. By talking with Rosalind I was able to see that I can create the most value out of investing time and attention in the opportunities that I already have lined up.

Rather than always leapfrogging over the top of existing plans to focus on what comes next, I need to make this time to stop, consider what it is I want to achieve, and go deeper.

I think perhaps the constant feeling of needing to look ahead is something that comes from being self-employed/freelance, and having worked that way for years. Going from project to project, planning ahead for the next source of income. But I’m realising more and more that there’s value in being present, and being 100% committed to where you are now. Through making the most of current opportunities, new ones follow.

For instance Rosalind helped me to consider what events I could run alongside my planned exhibitions, how my belief in the need for interdisciplinarity and dialogue could inform these, who could be invited/involved, and how such dialogue with my collaborators could be recorded and shared more widely.

Two of the exhibition opportunities that we discussed are the exhibition that Karen and I are having at Spitalfields Studios, launching on Thursday November 7th, and an exhibition with the artist Jonathan Mansfield, at The Pound Arts Centre in early 2020.

I’m also going to be carrying out some collaborative work with US based artist Kathy Skerritt in June/July. Kathy and I were due to be working together in Cleveland, Ohio, before I decided to stop flying, in the face of fast moving Climate Change (see my post Declaring a Climate and Ecological Emergency). Now Kathy and I are exploring ways of linking and exchanging our place-based practices from a distance, and have started making work that weaves between my local river and hers.

Kathy and I share an interest in the relationship of our bodies to the body of the earth and bodies of water, and my experiences yesterday in London connected deeply with this, as Karen led me on a walk through the Docklands to the river.

I was saddened by the straight edged ‘cleanliness’ of the Canary Wharf area, with so much money invested in infrastructure for people to make even more money, and no investment in the plants or animals that could so easily be supported to live alongside. With no spaces created for natural vegetation, the geese were left to gather stray bits of plastic rubbish to make their nests.

As we walked, we noticed the water flowing between pools in a manicured park built above the underground, and as we moved away from the newer areas of development towards lower rise residential buildings, the number of water birds living among the buoys and docksides increased. Coots, Great Crested Grebes, Grey Wagtails, Canada Geese and Mute Swans.

If only, as part of giving planning permission for new developments, there was always a condition that the needs of the non human world be taken into account too.

We paused at the Mudchute City Farm for lunch, walking through a shock of tangled Spring green, in contrast with the controlled spaces and structures of before, before moving on to the Greenwich foot tunnel. From water above the underground, we stepped into a space dug beneath the massive River Thames, her enormous bulk flowing above our heads and cooling the air with moisture.

On the 1st June Karen comes to me in Wiltshire, and I will plan and guide her on a rural walk, although I’m not yet sure where. Our walks together are so packed full of noticing, of the collecting and documenting of experiences, that it takes a while for everything to start to settle and to make sense. Today I’m taking some quiet time, at home, to pause and reflect, before I start to follow the water once more.