An ongoing art and research project based in the landscape of South East England
What I am doing
I am working on a research project visiting and investigating a range of different places in contrasting landscapes across South East England. I have a wish-list of places and landscapes to visit, which are linked by the journey from one to the other. The journey follows a roughly circular path starting and ending in the woods and commons of Elmbridge in Surrey, taking in a route across the North Downs, the Weald in Kent, onwards to the Medway and along the South Coast to Brighton and back to Surrey. At each place I shall make a small piece of work collecting traces and impressions making use of pigments found in the landscape (chalk, charcoal, clay, and natural dyes etc) and collecting materials and impressions to form the basis of larger works to be made during the course of the project. I like to involve people in making work in response to the colours and textures of the natural environment and to build this engagement into the heart of the project. Papermaking workshops with the public help me share my skills and also elicit responses, stories and discussions so there is a two-way exchange. ‘Land, Material and Memory’ is a project that I hope will tie together lots of strands of my work and also hopefully help me involve lots of people in making work in response to our wonderful landscape. I am taking my studio with me by travelling with a transportable Hollander beater which enables me to make paper and teach paper making in a variety of settings.
I am also documenting the project in the form of photographs and writing. Both of these things help to communicate about the project and also form a permanent record.
The project has a working title of Land, Material and Memory and has really grown out of an earlier project, ‘Papertrails’ (www.papertrails.org.uk), carried out in 2007. ‘Papertrails’ was a 12-month Arts Council funded project based in the Elmbridge commons and woods. It involved hundreds of local people of all ages and transformed the way I work. Since then I have carried residencies and / or site responsive projects in Surrey and also in Kent. One of my most recent residencies was set in a decommissioned lightship moored on the Medway at Gillingham.
Results would or could be:
A piece of work made up from many smaller elements each made in situ in direct response to the places visited. Larger pieces made over the course of the project. A piece of work made communally by each participant and individual work made and taken home by participants. The work will form the basis of a future exhibition.
Photographic documentation and writing will result in a publication and a blog, which would allow the project to reach a wider audience.
As well as having direct outcomes the project will produce research materials for the next few years of my work and will build useful connections and networks not just for me but potentially between the organisations involved.
Participation in the project by the public will enhance enjoyment of the local environment and its particular qualities and will also pass on papermaking skills.
My own practical skills will also be enhanced and I would be able to make use of what I have learnt in the future.
How I am working to make this happen
I am seeking project partners and looking for organisations interested in hosting workshops or lending me studio bases and who would extend an invitation to me to work with them for a day or two. Some of the people and organisations that I am talking with or who have offered help or support in some way include, Elmbridge Borough Council, Surrey Arts, Stour Valley Arts, Dover Arts Development and schools, galleries and individuals.
More updates soon..