When you’re about to spend a whole week with a big group of strangers in closed quarters, you get a little bit nervous. What if we don’t get along? What if the place is infected with carpet beetles? What if I don’t get anything done?
Luckily, everyone in this past week were wonderful, there was no house bugs to be seen (afaik), and work-wise I was in the zooone.
First: people. The organisers were amazing. They really did think this residency through, down to the smallest detail, and it made a big difference. The other artists – all based in Northern England – were not only supernice, interesting and talented, but also very generous with their time, equipment, skills, and also absolutely hilarious. I couldn’t stop laughing. Our various backgrounds within digital media arts also fit very well together.
The place: Being in a small town that you don’t usually live in is a great way to avoid distractions and stay focused. Not to mention all the great bargains we made in charity shops that would have been long gone by now in bigger cities. The house were the residency took place was in the middle of a beautiful park, which means: we could do as much noise as we wanted, had a fantastic canvas to work with and environment to relax in. Add to this lots of space and equipment at our disposal. Lots of delicious meals eaten together at the house, which really bonded us together. Great weather (ikr!). What more could you ask for? Sometimes I even forgot about the threatening presence of the nuclear submarine at the harbour.
The work: I arrived with a couple of ideas I wanted to develop around projections, DMX lights and the interaction between lights, sound and materiality. I did play around with this for a bit with Dave’s and Mark’s help and had an excellent DMX light drumming and Nord synth session with Mark, but I quickly got side-tracked from my initial plans into trying out Sam’s knitting machine (something I had always wanted to try) and by other people’s superinteresting projects. I jumped on the occasion to try new things and it was just mint. At the end of the week, I also suddenly had a whole box of knitted scarves with African wax patterns, which fit perfectly into my Diaspora project series (thanks Sam and Laura!). I was also very impressed by the quality and amount of work that the other artists had realised during the week.
As an artist, you really need this kind of retreat every now and then to help boost back your creativity when you feel like you’re getting buried under your never-ending to-do list and just want to watch X Factor at the end of your long work days. You meet inspiring people, get access to lots of great kits and get a headspace to experiment with new things you’ve been meaning to try for a long time or hadn’t thought about doing before. This kind of residency is invaluable, and I’m just so chuffed I got to take part in this one. Yayyy!!!
As I’m writing this, a few of us actually haven’t gone home and are hiding inside the house’s basement. We’ll get out and carry on working together as soon as the organisers go outside the house. Hopefully they won’t notice us and we’ll manage to hide from them before they kick us out. This is where our recently acquired carpet skating skills are coming handy. Hehehe.