We moved to BHF in December 2020. It was during a period of lockdown and as we were moving from London where we had lived for thirty years, a very big change. During the first UK lockdown I had completed voluntary redundancy from my job at a London university as an MA programme leader. Having taught in universities since the 1990s leaving academia was also going to be an enormous change.
At the beginning of 2020 I was awarded an a-n bursary in order to develop my enamel work. Having developed various samples during a period as maker in residence at the institute of making at UCL in 2019, l wanted to work on a larger scale and my intention was to work in a European factory in order to realise this.
When the first lockdown began in the UK in March 2020, I, like many others, did not imagine that all my work plans would have to be curtailed for so long. In fact as it turned out almost all the work that I had planned for the next couple of years just didn’t happen, and inevitably my plan to work in a factory was also put on the back burner.
It got to the summer 2020 and l had hardly been able to use my studio since the previous March and so a long held dream to move out of London started to take shape – my partner and I would move out of London and find a new home with enough space for studios and perhaps even room for other projects.
We arrived at BHF in Dec 2020. It is in rural Somerset – in a small hamlet and amazingly it already has a workshop-studio. It’s taken time to settle in and to move our workshops from Thameside studios to here, but we are getting there.
I gradually realised that I would not be able to spend my bursary in the way that I had originally intended and so l asked a-n if I could change my plans, which i have since done. I am going to write about that here.
I have always worked with other people, I think it is a preferred way of working for me really. So since arriving in quite a remote place, in a lockdown, I have continually thought: what can I do to bring people here to try and use the spaces we have in more ways than we can by ourselves. To invite other creatives in to spend time here – to think, to take time out or to just wander/wonder.
When I realised that I couldn’t visit a factory to work at this time and that actually I really wanted to stay here in this new environment I asked A-n if I could change my project. I wanted to be able to bring some people into this new space and to engage meaningfully with them in order to find ways in which we could activate work here and support each other along the way, by talking about what we were doing at the time and thinking about potential new ideas and work.
Listening in at BHF I am really interested in how you may acclimatise or tune in to things in a new situation or space. In 2012 while working at Haystack Mountain School in Maine, USA I was incredibly lucky to meet and work with Pauline Oliveros. Pauline introduced me to her concept of deep listening and I spent time exploring sounds with her and others of the outdoor environment and the indoor environment of the workshop that I was running for two weeks at Haystack.
When we moved to BHF I knew that it would take some time to settle and tune in and to know what we wanted to do here. Deep listening is a process that I use almost continuously in my daily life and I wanted to share this process with several colleagues here and in the environs to determine more thought about future plans. I invited my former colleague and friend sound Artist Tansy Spinks to come and develop thoughts about sound and my friend and collaborator, choreographer and dancer Laila Diallo to work through ideas with me. I also invited one other friend/colleague, but near to the time that we were due to meet, due to ongoing COVID issues, this was cancelled. I have however started to develop ideas online with another friend/colleague Alice Kettle who has also relocated to rural Somerset.
Tansy Saturday 6th November 2021
Laila and have worked together extensively over the last 10 years, firstly during the residency Side by Side and then in the project Edge and Shore. I asked Laila if she would come and spend several days working with me here – as we have previously spent much time finding ways of working together, we have methods to engage in work very quickly.
Thursday 18th October
When Laila arrived we decided to take a walk together, very much a process of talking and catching up as we explored. We have always found this a very good way to look at things together and to re-engage.
Friday 19th November 2021 9.45am Boiler Barn
Butterfly Blue 2000 Metal Brick Hay Frame Glass Fading Cobweb Holes Peeling Footsteps Shadow Step Click Newspaper Through Rafters Soot Brushed Bats Chips Birdsong Layers Green Alteration Out Planks Lightbulb Clink Dangling Doorway Threshold Pipe Traces Silver Flaking Slivers Sky.
10.50am Upstairs at the Onion Barn
Stairs Floorboards Apples Fallen Leaves White Rust Hooks Beams Insects Glass Holes Light Outside Chipping Texture Nest Blue Pole Enamel Nail Again Tread Hand Flutter Wing Fleeting Listen Background Marks Shuffle Lines Edge Decay Hops Time Vibrant Luminous Retrace Look Up Return Turn 10.50.
11.29am From the tractor shed, along and through the cattle shed
Dirt Wires Floor Moss Through Rusty Opening Peaking Shadow Metallic Yellow Sounding Latch Roof Corrugated Silhouette Testing Perspective Peeping Dark Darkness Open Chirping Moving Rustle Distance Light Piping Rolls Yellow Blue Offcuts Boards Bamboo Lying Partial Reaching Pacing Underfoot Scale Human.