Mix of participants
It was really important for me to have the international input – I think it gives fresh perspective. There could I suppose have been a potential for the group to be too inwardly focused on their own geographical situation (because they are all trying to improve it and genuinely care about it), this was an opportunity to open out.
The different approaches and references that a varied mix of people bring is both enriching and sometimes a revelation. For my own part, I’m very aware that most of my references are very British. It’s where I’m from but of course it’s exciting to expand and find new inspiration wherever that might lurk. I suspect we’re all always hungry for this.
It was very useful to have the international participants to balance a sense of localism. I will draw on some of those connections in the future.
I was one from another country. For me the major benefit was insight, not just into the work of Ben Rivers, but into the working way of each of the participants, into their concerns, interests, approaches and methods. This was great.
It was great to have the curators there. I think this brought another dimension to the experience.
The number of participants was high enough to create a diverse and broad group, but at the same time the group was intimate enough to provide opportunities for contact and exchange between all participants.
It was very good to see the programmes of the curators from Ireland and Hospitalfield, to name some, and from Warsaw especially.
Ben set the tone, which was one of casual but intense contribution and a non-hierarchical atmosphere.
The workshop was incredibly well organised. It was extremely luxurious to be led from one experience to the next special event. Really delightful.
Formal screenings and conversations provided structure and additional stimulus for the day’s informal conversations. This structure came from an incredible mix of people who were all so generous with their time. We had practitioners, curators and archivists to talk with – quite incredible. It was that balance between the formal and informal that allowed me to explore so many aspects of my film practice (and my role as co-founder of a gallery) in such a concentrated space of time.
I really enjoyed the way Ben Rivers set up and screened film programmes so readily and seemingly without fuss. This easiness and readiness really left an impression on me, and served to galvanise conversations around critical topics within the group.
LUX’s contribution was very important as they provided the workshop with the right equipment for screenings. They also worked to collect and bring as many interesting films to the workshop as possible to give a very wide choice.
Those exquisite selections offered a reference point in film curating and reflection on the role of the artist as a curator.
Paul Farley’s tour of Helston’s edgelands – fantastic. It was really incredible how much the landscape lined up with writing originally about a different place.
Ben – a truly inspirational film-maker and artist. Film screenings, walks, delicious food, the space and time to look, listen and think with no immediate ‘results’ expected.
Ben was a warm, steady, friendly and relaxed leader with positive responses and suggestions. He took us all, and his role, seriously but lightly, provided a good atmosphere for discussion […] The screenings at Kestle Barton of 16mm film were wonderful, really fantastic. Paul Farley’s walk and poetry were funny, precise, informed and warm.
Goonhilly and the aeroplane graveyard with a bog in between and a helicopter circling above will stay with me for a long time – it was splendidly absurd and well worth sacrificing a pair of Converse All Stars for. I can still hear the echoes of fifteen of us squelching down a Cornish back lane…
The workshop had a local focus. However, the theme – ‘Edgelands’ – had a strong universal dimension, which made it easier for me, as an international participant, to relate curatorially to the workshop’s local context.
The accommodation was great. I felt that the situation could not have been better as there was enough ‘space’ within the collection of buildings to have privacy but they all felt connected. Access to the outdoors was ideal at Kestle Barton. Having meals provided freed up time for working and talking together. The evening at CAST was spectacular.
The accommodation just added to the feeling of being blessed. Everyone felt happy and comfortable and it contributed to the feeling that it was a very rare, wonderful week. It also did give one a strong sense of place – the Cornish building, stone, landscape and proximity to the sea. It was a warm and generous place and it felt like a very special experience, where rare things are possible.
Kestle was more than accommodation – the space felt like an integral part of the workshop, facilitating so much of what we did.
For me the isolation of the location was key to the success of the programme. By being self-contained and ‘cut-off’ there was less pressure to be always be ‘doing’ something, and discourse developed naturally.
The hospitality was AMAZING and was really important. Everyone felt cared for and treated with great respect. The hosting created an extremely convivial atmosphere, which encouraged engagement, conversation and the development of friendships. This experience made me realise that all of these things are an important part of creativity.
There was a sense of recognising South West artistic output in a larger context rather than being fringe or marginalised […] Artists and cultural workers are so often put in the position of being grateful for crumbs (low or no pay, etc) it was refreshing to be treated so well!
Perfect, perfect, perfect!
The value of the Workshop
I could see that there are excellent connections to other audiences and activity through some of the events taking place at CAST, the talk at the University and at the community college. I imagine that the artist participants will take their enthusiasm and new knowledge back to their own networks to reap long-term benefits.
This is the third edition and since 2011 the ecology of Cornwall has been considerably changed […] The workshops have fostered creative ambition across the region and connected the individuals who are most active and enquiring in enduring ways.
The legacy of this workshop will of course demonstrate itself not only now but in six months and a year when the results of collaborations begin to show themselves. It seems increasingly likely that artists will be one of the major voices that will determine the future for analogue film. This workshop, by bringing film-makers together from across the South West, has added to this discussion while inspiring a number of artists to continue, or try for the first time, working with film.
The immediate effect the workshop experience had on me was to re-evaluate my priorities regarding my work. To be with certain people who clearly do not compromise their vision was truly inspiring and I hope this immediate response has a lasting influence on my practice.
The workshop mobilised a group of people with overlapping interests in analogue film and artist moving image. I came home FULL of ideas. Actually brimming. This was amazing for me. It’s so rare to get the chance to just stop working, down tools, and think, in the company of wonderful artists and practitioners. What a gift.
It was particularly timely to think about international links in the context of the continuing artists’ exodus from London, which surely opens the way for the dismantling of the hegemony of London over the regions and greater development of a regional arts practice and infrastructure in which international dialogue and exchange is key.
The immediate spin-off after the workshop was curating a screening event in partnership with LUX at Back Lane West […] In addition, the discussions with other participants, and particularly Ben, have provided a momentum and confidence towards my own art practice.
For me the key consideration was the artist at the heart of the workshop and those running it. My practice revolves around film and especially analogue film so the chance to spend time in the company of Ben Rivers was hugely appealing – he’s an artist I’ve followed a little obsessively for a long time!