My contribution to the Site Gallery Artist-led particpatory practice residency was a project called Exploring Our Hidden Landscapes.  The aim of the activity was to provide participants with the opportunity to learn about and experience the creative process in an accessible, practical and enjoyable way whilst addressing a theme.  To achieve this aim  I ran 3 artist led (myself) activities for groups of people, (one of which involved collaborating with Abi Goodman).  I also invited visitors to the Gallery who dropped in to engage individually with this activity.

Photo by Sunshine Wong

This is the information I gave to visitors who wanted to collect for me.

Please help me to get a better sense of where the Site Gallery is situated.  Help me look at its place in the cultural industries quarter through exploration and observation.

Please do:

  1. Take a map and collecting bag and chose any of the collecting containers to take with you.
  2. Go out and explore the area within a five minute walk of the Gallery
  3. Look carefully and observe as you walk along
  4. Find a place that you haven’t noticed before, is hidden or is a surprise to you.  Bring back an object if possible or draw or make a rubbing of something that represents what you’ve seen
  5. Leave a tag at or near the place where you’ve collected your object or image. (Please be sensitive to other peoples property)
  6. Come back to the gallery and write a tag and attach it to the object or drawing to say where its from
  7. Come and tell me about your journey and your object or drawing
  8. Leave the object or drawing with me.

Over the next two weeks these objects and images will used, by myself and visitors to the gallery in workshops, to explore the process of making art and to produce mixed media piece(s) of art.

Photos above by Sunshine Wong

One of the workshops

Photo by Sunshine Wong

My goals for this residency were to develop my understanding of how and if Artist led participation work can  help me develop my artistic practice as well as investigating the theme exploring our hidden landscapes with the help of participants.  I wanted to work with people who are drawn to art but may not feel they are able to or confident enough able to make it.

The Activity goals were

•To collaboratively produce a mixed media piece, pieces of art around the theme Exploring Our  Hidden Landscapes , rooted in the experiences of the group

•Share some creative process tools which participants can use after the workshop to create their  own work

•To learn from each other and share skills and knowledge

•Have fun

Photo by Abi Goodman

Here’s my evaluation of being involved in the Site Gallery micro-residency A Time and A Place.

Wow what a two weeks!  I’m shattered.  Thanks to everyone who ‘collected’ and shared their thoughts, feelings and experiences with me.  I really enjoyed listening to everyone and seeing the hidden landscape around the gallery through their eyes.  Without your participation I’d have had an empty space. I’ve got all your goodies in my studio waiting to be photographed.  I’ve got some ideas and your suggestions about what to do next with all these treasurers but I’m going to have a break first.

I really enjoyed working with the other artists: sharing ideas, thoughts, practice and experiences.  I am a bit of a dinosaur when it comes to new technology but I have now been on (thanks to their encouragement)  twitter, followed and contributed to a blog, created a drop box for photos and put videos onto my Facebook page.

Photo by Ruthie Ford

It was exciting and fun to create work collaboratively others.  Ruthie and I devised a ‘wool chant’ with the support of Hannah and Heather (a visitor to the Gallery).  The chant wove together snippets of the stories that Ruthie collected and reflected the rhythm of needles when knitting. It also referenced the meditative effect that knitting can often have on the knitter.  Adam helped me realise my ambition of recording the sound of my knitting (need to get out more) and through his practice challenged me to think about my own.

Video by Sunshine Wong

Steve and I experimented with using meditation as a vehicle to explore the hidden landscape around Site Gallery.  This was a bit scarey but went well.  Sally let me infiltrate her soil with knitted worms who insisted on having a conversation.  Hannah, Steve, Smizz, Heather, Abi, Andrew, Ruth, Celia and Ruthie all bravely helped us perform the ‘wool chant’ in the Gallery.  I had some great conversations with Smizz, Emily, Hannah, Charlotte and Adam about the challenges of making a living and making art.  Smizz I could listen to you talk all day.

Kate, Ania and Steve, the mentors, kept me thinking and questioning my practice as well as providing a safety net for those wobbly moments.  They have also sorted out my reading list for the next year!

Finally a great big thanks to the Site Gallery for giving me this opportunity and to Sunshine for supporting us throughout the residency with such patience, tolerance and encouragement.

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