April - Nov 2009 EROC artists residency, CoCA, Torun, Kujawsko Pomorskie, Poland.

EROC in their own words...

Is culture exclusive to urban areas? We believe not.
The EROC Campaign calls for a new award for rural regions: European Regions of Culture. Just as European Capitals of Culture celebrates urban European living, our goal is to harness rural culture to create a better, more sustainable future for rural, isolated and peripheral regions individually, collectively, and in Europe as a whole.

The ERoC residency

Living in Cornwall can often mean a compromise – economically, socially and geographically. This has given rise to what I feel is a diverse mix of individuals, communities and cultures that I feel is unique to any where I have lived before. This is further expressed in Cornwall’s physical landscape, particularly its coastal stretches, heaths, moors and high ground. Its sense of history is a prominent feature and has been a source of interest for me and has, on a number of occasions, informed directly the development of my practice and its various outcomes.

During the last 4 years my practice has increasingly become involved with audience participation as a way for developing projects. These projects have examined our relationship with natural, historical, sociological and cultural environments and their contexts but also the space between artist and audience. The positive results of theses projects have been due, in part, to the topics that have been discussed and relationship of the work to the audiences who have supported them. How collaborative participation with the audience affects the dynamics of engagement and the development of visual dialogues has emerged as important point of enquiry. It was from this point that a number of works that relate to all 3 regions were formed by examining specific regional contexts during the residency and consisted of 3, 5 day visits to 3 different regions - South Ostrobothnia, Finland, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Poland and Cornwall.

These projects were informed by research, observances and activities relating to the area where the work activity took place. The focus of the topics were investigated from a variety of historical, traditional and contemporary perspectives. To this end I explored potential opportunities with the artists and organisations involved with ERoC residency and the communities from these regions to deliver temporary collaborative outcomes that used audience participation as a main thread between projects to follow a specific and resonant line of enquiry to all 3 regions. It was important that relationships were carefully nurtured to enable a levelling of the field between artist and the community were the work took place. Approaches like this go some way to ensuring that the focus of the work remains relevant to those it is intended for and importantly that the work connects to the audiences and participators in a way that is appropriate to their experiences and sense of locality.

The focus of the campaign is the creation of a year long cultural platform that underlines the importance and vitality of culture to be found in a rural region. It is important that that an inclusive and extensive approach is found and that the widest possible consideration is given to the diverse range of cultural interests and activities across the region. Importantly where it is presented and that it does not become an urban centric event is part of that. If it is to capture a true cross section of what culture is in Cornwall then it must be one that is balanced and takes in the perspective of those who live here and are involved in it. This will go some way I hope to ensure that the culture that is showcased through an ERoC platform is a true picture of what happens here and that it is interesting for the visitors who come to see it but also has relevance and resonance for the people of Cornwall too.

Some of the main points that were going through my head at the time were:

How are ERoC going to achieve this?
Where will it happen?
Will it be radical enough?
How will it be presented?
What is ERoCs meaning of culture?
What does culture represent?
What will be considered appropriate?
Is what’s right for Liverpool right for Cornwall?
Where might ERoC look for culture?

December 2006 - December 2007:
Artist in residence with the National Trust:

The focus of this residency was inspired by the history of the landscape, its changing use and the working processes and that occur there. As a subject matter, Cornwall’s natural environment, geographical position and cultural history are distinctive. I used these features as a starting point for developing my art practice over a year long environmental art residency with the Lizard National Trust. The residency was designed to initiate artists’ responses in a variety of media to a wide range of issues that affect the properties under the management of the NT. These included, for example issues such as small and large scale environmental pollution, visitor pressure and the effects of climate change. My art practice during this time centred on society’s relationship with natural resources and its’ collective use of energy. I tailored the objectives of the first project (CUT/STACK/BURN) toward the collaborative making of a public artwork that could develop a visual dialogue about this. Of particular interest was a desire to use sustainable materials that had been resourced from existing land management practices already occurring in the landscape. My interest in using material such as furze (gorse) harvested from heath land, is informed by my experience as an artist and my involvement in nature conservation over the last decade. I was keen that the evidence of my activities (whose concepts were influenced by traditional management of the landscape) on land, farms and NT properties, was unobtrusive as possible and impermanent. That the collaboration between art, agriculture, conservation, community and habitat would perhaps lead to a mutually beneficial relationship/work in some way.
Through this residency I am explored how a visual interpretation of this might proceed. I am equally interested to understand how contemporary artists can engage with the environment, or landscape, given the legacy that, on a regional level at least, still appears to be encumbered with issues of pictorial representation.

July 2007 – Create/Destroy/Destroy/Create (on going)

This durational and performative project is a visual re-evaluation of landscape management lying under the shadow of environmental uncertainty [climate change]. It is an interaction between manager, resource and artist using active site specific intervention as a tool for developing a multiple of visual interactions. The work resulting from this process aims to engage with the challenges that are effecting the implementation of ancient, traditional and sustainable processes in the contemporary management of the landscape and its resources.
(See offsite:inside)

August 2007 - 'Water Treatment Plant’ (on going).
A postcard/interpretational material and installation project.

'Water Treatment Plant’ is intended to be a functional facility that is to be built in the on the banks of Loe pool in full view of the main house in the heart land of the Penrose estate near Helston, Cornwall. [Loe pool suffers from along history of agricultural and domestic pollution. The bloom from the blue green algae, which is only visible in the summer months, forms rafts that block out sunlight, and has seriously degraded the pools ecology] The utilitarian industrial design, deliberately intended to be obtrusive for its setting, uses temporary scaffolding, plywood exterior walls, doors and a corrugated roof. Installed inside the structure a working model of a working water treatment plant and uses the same principals utilised by Hans Haacke in his work 'Rhine water Purification Plant', installed at Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany in 1972. The physical presentation of 'Water Treatment Plant’ was to cause an abrupt intrusion in the sublime landscape at Penrose. It was intended to stir debate, through visual conversation, about the drastic measures that could be invoked to clean up the pollution encountered in the pool. Is this kind of interaction necessary? And if not, what other options are there?

'Water Treatment Plant’ exists, in its current form, as a web based interpretation project and is working towards its inception as an installation.