Socialism: a family film

May 19th, 2016

Anna 4

Anna 3Anna 2Anna1

25–27 March 2016

A number of spurs (including the loss of a great aunt who had fled Czechoslovakia the day before the Nazi invasion) conflated, with the realisation that there are great gaps in my knowledge of socialism. My practice is social: concerned with others, how we communicate with and care for each other. It seemed vital to set an informed foundation for my work, to further educate myself and look at how these ideologies might be discussed with younger people. I put forward a project examining socialism – its history, key figures and relevance in modern life. This would be used by us to make a short film: a rare opportunity to conduct a family residency.
Tolpuddle Martyr’s Museum is not too far from Powerstock, so we called in to find out more about this early example of attempts at an agricultural trade union. We found this village to be a hub of activity, hoping to return for the festival in the summer.
We arrived at Copse Barn in the bright sunshine, with a big wave from Anna. I had brought her some cooked red cabbage, a recipe of my great aunt’s. The one room would house us as we intensively worked on the initial stages of the film. I had been researching and planning for a month, with a list of episodic projects I thought might be absorbing and manageable. The stove was stoked and kettle put on the hob. As the temperature rose in the caravan, ladybirds spluttered from behind cupboards: red dots punctuating every surface. We also migrated around the interior. Flip-book construction on the sofa, slogans on stickers at the bedside table and a roll of lining paper stretched across the width of the kitchen worktop at the front of the caravan. Standing, we traced portraits of socialists, using carbon paper. The large windows, on most walls, encircled us with light and and a vantage point for the activities of Copse Barn and the weather. Wind and rain rocked the shell of the Traveller’s Buccaneer. Daffodils leaned in the gusts and the conifer under which the caravan sits, thrashed and squeaked. We were acutely aware of our domestic preoccupations, our negotiations with each other in this pared-down scenario and the attempts at order against the backdrop of the elements. In bright spells, we dashed out to film, running past the goose in her bathtub with a red flag. Anna’s welcome, her openness to sharing her space and her home, made this explorative venture – where making and playing, living and thinking were not compartmentalised – alive, flexible and possible.
We return later in the year to screen the film.

Part of  The Mothership artist residencies, hosted by Anna Best of unincorporated collaborations: annabest.info/residencies

Hello Goodbye

September 9th, 2014

Welcome Mat

May 21st, 2012

I stood at the front door and welcomed visitors to my friends’ open house.

Read my notes on the day here: http://atopenhouse.co.uk/blog/welcome_mat

My original proposal can be downloaded here: welcome

How do we live?

March 5th, 2012

Here are my thoughts on compiling an A–Z of contemporary habitation, a project which is still open to contributors (2 x A3 pdf)

How do we live?

Copies of this article were included in the exhibition Construct the Future, curated by Native at Hoxton Gallery, 8–10 April 2016

Exhibition details

Please contact me if you know of, or are in, an unusual place to live.

This project was launched at the This Is Not a Gateway Festival, 22-24 October 2010

thisisnotagateway.net

Make an example

December 12th, 2009

Good King Wenceslas peg doll kit.

Good King Wenceslas peg doll kits.

Left at Arnolfini gallery, Bristol.

To coincide with the exhibition Craftivism.

back, with instructions

Let the games begin!

June 6th, 2008

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A new piece for Whitstable Biennale 2008

Commissioned by Emma Leach for a weekend of performative works

21-22 June, Whitstable Beach

A stall on Whitstable beach with various games, toys and puzzles. Situated near several thoroughfares, passers-by borrowed games to play, asking for advice on suitability and rules. Cushions were also available to borrow.

A local made an application to designate Whitstable beach as a Village Green, hoping to safeguard it as a place for public use. The application was denied. One of the stipulations for common land is proof that the site has been used for recreation for at least twenty years.

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Conservation area

June 23rd, 2007

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80 birdhouses made from kits by me, were given away for free at the Brockley summer fair in June 2007. Anyone who took a birdhouse was also given a leaflet in which I explained where best to site their birdbox and how to look after it.
When we arrived, we were instructed to pitch up our folding stall next to the Green Party and opposite Oxfam. I developed my banter as the afternoon progressed, overcoming visitors’ shyness and suspicion with advice about how to use the birdhouses. This moved into conversations about the birds they had seen around their homes; including details of their gardens, yards or balconies. All of the birdhouses were given out within two hours, with families crowding around and taking several at once. The event organisers assumed the Green Party owned the stall and announced by tannoy that birdboxes were being given away. An employee from the RSPB gave me hints on improving the boxes, whilst Green Party representatives discussed their local policies.

The fair was held in an area where I could not afford to live. The numbers of small birds in London have declined by up to 90%.

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Deckchair Repair

August 1st, 2005

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For over a month I prepared a suitable place from which to conduct deckchair repairs, clearing out rubbish and making alterations to a shed in the sculpture yard at Wimbledon School of Art. Inside I set up a desk and chair, with radio and reference materials. Two rolls of replacement deckchair fabric (Mablethorpe and Bridlington) hung from the wall for visitors to choose from. Deckchairs that needed work were stacked inside, alongside wood treatments and tools.

I handed out leaflets to commuters at Wimbledon station advertising repairs and posted them through letter boxes in the area. A radius of two miles was mapped around the repair centre, from which I would do repairs for those who could not make it to the shed.

Around me, technicians, students and tutors continued with their work, stopping in for a cup of tea and the latest news of The Ashes (winning year). Every morning at 10am I arrived and opened up the deckchair repair. I rubbed down frames and teak oiled them, treating for woodworm, polishing fixings and replacing covers. Deckchairs were brought in for repair by members of the public, whilst sturdy chairs were set up in the yard for anyone who wanted to rest. My steady work set a familiarity and pace to proceedings. Visitors chatted and lounged, or peered into the repair workshop. At 5pm I closed up and went home.

1 August – 16 September 2005, MA show Wimbledon School of Art

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