I have just got back from a pretty exhausting but exciting weekend in London. As part of my professional development as an artist I applied for a place on one of the DIY 5 projects and was selected to participate on 'Keep your luggage with you at all times' with Geraldine Pilgrim (http://www.corridorperformance.org) in London. This project was an opportunity for artists to go on an individual one day adventure reflecting on the power of the suitcase as an iconic object and its potential use in both performance and installation, exploring the role of significant objects in live art to represent experience and emotion, examining ways of looking at souvenirs/evidence to signify physical as well as emotional journeys and experiencing the joy of inspirational visits as a source for creating work.
The adventure began on Saturday morning at Le Pain Quotidien on St Pancras International Station where 14 of us met for complimentary coffee and croissants around a huge rustic pine table. It was an excellent start to the day, and after enjoying our breakfast and introducing ourselves we chose our suitcase and were handed an envelope with £30 as a contribution to travelling costs. We then all departed on our individual journey, carrying our suitcases.
The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day. Water called! So I chose to go on the River. I boarded a boat to Greenwich at Westminster and duly set off for my destination. I have never been to Greenwich and was not sure what to expect, so I duly read the information handed to me with my boat ticket. When the boat arrived I ran up the hill to get to the observatory in time to watch and take a short video of the red ball on top of the observatory dropping down the pole at precisely 1pm, and mark world time. I stood with one foot in the Western Hemisphere and the other in the Eastern Hemisphere. I went on an architectual guided tour of the new Planetarium. I wandered through TIME itself. I mulled about how TIME ruled my life! I added my comments to the wall of postcards displayed by visitors saying 'when time stood still for me' and learnt lots of things I didn't know. Then I went to the Museum shop to look for objects that would illustrate my visit. I bought postcards of the Meridian line, a Meridian tee-shirt, 2 Meridian pencils, a pack of Meridian playing cards and a book called 'On the line'. I spent all afternoon wandering around the observatory and grounds. As I sat on the grass waiting for the boat to arrive for the return river journey I opened the suitcase to sort through what I had collected, was it enough? What was expected? I didn't know. Then, to my surprise I found a bunch of old sepia photographs which I had not seen before because they were conceiled in a front zipped pocket. I immediately thought that Geraldine had put them there but it turned out she didn't and was as surprised as me when I told her. They were the missing link to time and memory!! And I put them in the central position when I came to display the contents of my suitcase! At this point I want to mention how important the suitcase was - yes I was frustrated and irritated by it and I looked decidely out of place on the boat and in Greenwich - I was the only person carrying a suitcase. I was aware of it all day long and the part it played in the process! Carrying an empty suitcase for the first half of the day was weird to say the least and I would quite happily have left it somewhere - but I didn't!!
The following day, Sunday we met at Toynbee Studios to share the experience of our journey and reveal the contents of our suitcases. We had all had such different adventures and it was really enlightening to share our experiences and the things we had collected to represent our journey. Geraldine gave us 20 minutes to chose an area in which to install the suitcase and it's contents in any part of the building including the outside courtyard, which was my own personal choice. We then visited each suitcase as a group and silently made notes about our interpretation/narrative of the journey based on what we saw. We then returned to the studio for the rest of the day and discussed our findings without knowing whose suitcase it was. The owner of the suitcase then told us about their journey and how our narratives fitted with their experience. I shared my experience of 'time travelling' with the group. SEE THE PHOTO! As per usual I had accumulated alot of evidence. My learning again is to find the essence of what I want to say. Participating in this project has given me the opportunity to:
Have a personal adventure
Share and learn different creative approaches of other artists
Take risks and try things out
Network with other artists
In terms of the project facilitation I was quite disappointed - The second day in the studios started off well and then deteriorated throughout the day - the time needed to be managed in order for everyone to have the chance to share their journey. We were not given any time boundaries so it was inevitable that we ran out of time. We were told earlier that we would finish by 6.30pm and no later than 7pm. In reality this did not happen and 4 of the artist's journeys were still to be discussed at 6.30pm. I did not want to miss these but I had to leave on time. I would have also liked there to have been an opportunity to discuss how other artists, particularly Geraldine, have used the suitcase in their work. In spite of this the project was a positive experience and it has deffinately contributed to the beginning of the 4th year of my degree. Geraldine was very supportive throughout the process. Please add your comments!! And if any of you reading this took part in the project please send me your email and I will share my photos with you
DIY 5, a Live Art Development Agency initiative,is a series of professional development projects BY artists FOR artists
Posted by Rosie Kearton at Monday, September 22, 2008