On Saturday I had my first home residency check-in with Helen Sargeant and her son Naoise that started with a lovingly made lunch, which we sat around the table together and ate. Eating and talking over a meal has been regularly coming up in the development of this project for example at Islington Mill they regularly put on a Pot Luck Dinner on a Wednesday evening and it continues to provide an informal way for anyone to get to know the Mill. It was good to see Helen and Naoise in their everyday environment where it felt a more natural way of getting to know each other. I was aware that Naoise had to go to a party later in the afternoon and soon after lunch Helen and myself got caught up in a conversation when Naoise sweetly interrupted us to get on and use the fun weekly planner for the residency. To make the planning session more visual we put on our special researcher glasses and I used a whiteboard, different shaped magnets, colour pens and stickers for the family to create a loose activity structure. This plan helped me to find out what else I needed to do to support their residency. Once Helen and Naoise started marking out there activity over the two-week period it soon became filled up and it was a good way to get more of a realistic idea of what could be achieved within the time frame.

We talked about visiting or maybe even attending a Finnish school, which both Helen and Naoise commented that it could be a bit daunting to go to a new school for a full day. I have been thinking about this a lot in relation to this project and when I have seen residency opportunities that mention day care for the child, would I trust leaving my child in that instance during a short term residency, answer probably not. Although part of this residency was to allow for a partner to go with the artist to provide additional childcare support. However Helen and Naoise are making and playing together which is the focus of their residency. Organising school contact will take time to develop although a tour and maybe an afternoon at a Finnish school would be a meaningful way of engaging with other children of Naoise age and for Helen to see the difference or similarities in the schooling environment. Naoise raised an interesting question: ‘why do we have to go away to make art?’ This would be a really good question to reflect on as part of the evaluation.

It feels like the residency programme is writing itself with all of the artists’ involved holding the pen at the same time. All three artist mothers Helen, Saara and myself taking part in this project have very different practices although we are all negotiating our work whilst being a parent. What conversations and questions will come from spending time together? This has got me thinking that a group informal crit of our work at Islington Mill would be a good opportunity to see the commonalities of our everyday and differences between our work. Would other artist parents be interested in attending?

Naoise stayed back a bit later even though he had planned to leave for the party and he signed the residency agreement in a special gold pen.


It’s only been a few weeks since I last posted a blog although in this short time I feel I have forgotten how to write. This is because I have been trying to get a press release written, planned, re-planned and now considering ditching my Kickstarter campaign. As part of my ACE application I need to raise £500 and the amount of work to create a campaign, rewards, design and delivery of the rewards is very time consuming which I did not account for in my time. Will this crowd funding campaign turn me into a busy fool? Is there not an easier way of getting one or two supporters for the overall project? Being a working mum and slowly getting through my project to-do list can occasionally get in the way of reviewing that list and not being scared of changing it. I spend a lot of my time at home and with all these written elements I prefer to work from my desktop computer although this week I’ve changed that routine which has injected a new flow to my project day. New ideas or solutions to problems surface when I am in motion or doing repetitive tasks such as walking, taking a train journey or washing up and these actions have got the ideas moving again rather than getting bogged down in word.

I had my monthly project meeting with Maurice Carlin at Islington Mill and its really good to get his feedback and advise on my plans. As we were talking I could see how I was forcing parts of the residency programme to fit with the crowd funding campaign and this set the alarm bells ringing. What I love about Maurice is how he always brings the focus back to what is essentially most important about this residency and questions other parts that could be time consuming distractions. I wanted to get a second opinion on using the sheds as creative spaces for the visiting Finnish children and had another site visit with Michiko Fujii. Michiko could see the potential of using these temporary spaces and we had a good look around the courtyard space which has lots of interesting materials such as plants, bricks and pots. There are two sheds and I thought that each child could have their own although Michiko suggested thinking in opposites for the inside of the spaces such as hard and soft. I have been thinking that it would be good to have more of a chill out space and the other as a collection/making space.

Not to fall into the trap again of planning to far into the future I need to talk with the artists’ and their families. Later this month I will be meeting Helen Sargeant and her son Naoise at their home to have our first ‘check in’ about there upcoming 2-week residency in Tampere, Finland.