The Clore Fellowship is made up of a number of elements. There are mandatory aspects, such as the two residential courses at the beginning and end of the fellowship, some core training which we will do as a group in February and writing a provocation paper. All fellows also have access to support from a coach and mentor, and there is a secondment. The secondment or placement is about working in a context very different from anything we have have done previously, whilst remaining in the cultural sector. We have the opportunity to select from a list of secondments opportunities or come up with our own ideas. There is a similar process for putting forward a choice for a mentor, who will support each fellow over the duration of the fellowship programme. Members of the Clore team then make approaches to both secondment and mentor choices. In deciding on my list for both secondment and mentor I thought about how I best learn and develop. Working with cross discipline collaboration is a main focus on my visual art practice and I have worked with architects, engineers, archivists and museum collections – and more recently an ergonomist – and so this knowledge guided my choices.
What I enjoy and find enormously productive about working in contexts very different to my own is the conversation that comes from a place of not knowing. This in turn fosters a sense of humility which is the companion of open exploration. When I worked with engineers at Hethel Engineering Centre I was not surprised to find the many similarities between terms used and methods of production, but there were thought provoking discussions about the differences between exploration of ideas and problem solving. When working with the Parliamentary Archives and the Norfolk Record Office it was the title of a talk ‘Administrative Processes + Events = Documents’ given by Susan Maddock (the then principle archivist in Norfolk) that provoked lots of thinking about how archive documents can be connected to create a bigger picture, which was the whole premise of the commission. I went on, with permission, to use the explanatory phrase as the title for the artwork I produced, as it fitted so neatly and explained so concisely the process of the commission but also the nature of the archives I was working with.
When working in what could be described as ‘non arts’ environments, I often imagine people or the disciplines they work within sitting around a circular table. When I work with a discipline unfamiliar to me I may imagine them sitting opposite me / the visual arts; I can’t fully appreciate what the view is like from that side of the table so I use a collaborative residency process in order to find out. By looking at the ways in which someone else works, asking questions and listening keenly, I gain valuable information and fresh perspectives. I can think about what I already know and where the common ground may be and work with it. Establishing common ground and connections that spring from it invigorates and takes my practice in directions I could not alone manage. Sometimes disciplines which initially feel far away in fact, after a period of investigation, sit closer around the table than I first imagined. Examples of cross discipline working are widespread and when collaborating with Dr Valerie Woods on Postures of Making she drew my attention to a study where the University Hospital Wales in Cardiff observed the Formula 1 Williams Pitt Stop Team, learning about equipment layout and team dynamics. “Both scenarios require a team of people to work seamlessly in a time critical and space-limited environment said Williams” (1).
For my Clore secondment and my mentor choice I am looking to work with a discipline I have never before explored; Dance. I know very little about Dance in terms of process, method or production. I have never seen a professional dance performance and although I have taken some classes these were many years ago. Rather than feel embarrassed by my lack of knowledge I will be taking my ignorance as a productive place to start, adopting the position of a curious outsider, similar to how I work in many of my residency situations, accepting and welcoming being a beginner in a new field. I will also review what knowledge or experience I do have that I could draw upon, and be thinking about how the conversations and activities I will be undertaking can help me to develop my leadership skills and think about where I am next heading.
- Wales hospital uses F1 pit stop tactics for newborn resuscitation https://www.ft.com/content/35f34152-1695-11e6-9d98-00386a18e39d Accessed December 2017