Mix of participants
A really broad range of ages, experiences, practices and temperaments, it is amazing we all got on so well. Everyone was very respectful of each other and what they had to offer.
All the participants having some sort of Cornwall connection was really valuable, giving us a common ground and more opportunity to stay in touch, even for those who live out-of-county.
There was a very varied group of people, which enabled interesting, diverse conversations. I feel very lucky to have met so many lovely, interesting people, I’m sure we will keep in touch and work together on future projects.
I thought it was wonderful to have so many thoughtful people living together for a week. All ages too seemed to work well. The older participants and the younger ones worked at not being stereotypical parents and children – very good for us all and relevant in terms of ecosystem study!
I think because we all live in the South West (and also because we applied knowing the themes), we could get on with the discussions with the assumption of shared interests and knowledge of place (or at least knowledge of what it means to live in a rural region). It also means that keeping in touch will be easier. For me, and I think for many artists, a strong network of local allies is really important.
I was drawn to the themes and parameters suggested by Andy Holden’s work and syllabus from the outset, with a particular interest in considering his ways of presenting bodies of research and subjects of interest and personal obsession to a wider public, in the context of art practice and as well as the setting of a workshop. The materials Andy gathered for us to read, watch, and contemplate were fascinating, challenging, and of even greater personal relevance than I had previously thought.
The terms suggested by Andy’s interests formed the fundamental backbone of what and how we navigated the workshop. Each day of the group being together in and amongst the verdant and surreal Cornish landscape helped put our understandings into context. Smaller insights from the themes we were exploring would leak out into the whole experience through chatting, walking, eating, as well as the lectures, seminars, screenings and readings.
Everything Andy put together for the workshop was so considered and made for a well-structured programme, where subjects and ideas were interwoven, allowing for ideas to expand. In particular, themes that came out of the Daisy Hildyard text about the second body became reinforced and developed throughout the workshop.
Particular highlights include: Mira’s artist talk ad presentation about soundscapes; Andy’s lecture/ performance at Falmouth School of Art and Peter’s birdsong walk. I also really enjoyed the skype with Andrew Kotting, having watched By Our Selves earlier in the week. I loved the way he talked about ‘reverse engineering’ in filmmaking; this idea really resonates with me. It was really nice of Andy to organise that, even if there were technical issues!
The outdoor poetry reading and music sharing sessions had a less analytical structure and enabled a different kind of knowledge exchange compared with the indoor seminars and talks.
Mira discussing making soundscapes based on drawings of how you see the piece was really interesting and important; I hadn’t thought to visualise sound in this way before,
even though I use it in installation and planned to use it more following the residency. Drawing how I saw it as a sculptural form as well as a timeline will be something I’ll use in the future when devising works.
Peter’s survey of birdsong and behaviours in the local environment and Mira’s workshop-within-a-workshop investigating sound recording in history and practice were perfect complementary bookends to the readings and conversations of the days
in between – direct, sensory means of exploring the workshop’s
By the week’s conclusion, something very specific had coalesced, a culture endemic to the workshop itself consisting of shared frames of reference, modes of interpretation and critical thinking, and most importantly: humour.
I would say it is very important to have everyone in the same place. Living together is all part of the intensity of the experience and why I think it is so powerful.
It was incredible for me to leave running a home/ workshop/business behind. Eating together and looking after each other, and the place, helped us to bond. The houses were wonderful places to be and the proximity to the creek and surrounding garden was also important for getting out and thinking.
The accommodation and hospitality at Kestle Barton is essential to the make-up of the workshop. By being located there, away from our individual and familiar worlds, a certain magic intensity is created. We very quickly established a ‘zone’ that felt
safe, respectful, non-competitive and where risks could be taken in terms of thinking, talking and making. I felt like I opened myself out as a result of that safe space and that’s all credit to the other participants. It was extremely difficult to return to the real world after this experience where we all embarked on an adventure together!
Kestle Barton being situated near the Helford river and in beautiful woodland meant we could go on walks and integrate and understand the themes of the workshop in a really
important and holistic way by being outside, which made the workshop even more immersive and special. The fact that everyone was staying in such close proximity meant it was easy to organise to meet and keep everyone in the loop without phones – we went for moonlit walks, morning swims and bird-song listening excursions. The kindness of both Kestle Barton and CAST has made such an impact on me that I won’t forget.
Value and personal outcomes
100% stimulating, 100% invigorating, 100% inspiring.
The workshop pumped a new life force into my work and seemed to coincide with many of my own interests, It was great to feel this kind of energy down in the toe of the foot of England! I wish every week down here was this eye opening.
Finlay Abbott Ellwood
I wanted to just be able to spend a week on being an artist, on learning again and meeting new people. All of this happened and gave me new confidence in myself.
As a relative newcomer to Cornwall/the UK, connecting with other artists/curators in the region via the workshop felt invaluable. I have come away with a stronger sense of place and community and a new peer group with whom a significant experience has been shared.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. It was brilliantly dense with a variety of experiences. There were moments a few days in, where I felt like I needed some time to pause and reflect and process the information and thoughts that were circulating (and
perhaps to sleep). But looking back at the experience as a whole, I can see the value of that intensity – and the time for contemplation of the themes, and what they bring to my work, is beyond the workshop; is now; is the next stage.
The opportunity to connect with other artists and also make friends was such an important aspect of the workshop. The reading inspired us all to start a reading group, to continue meeting and informing each other of topics and ideas relating to or
continuing from the themes and discussions from this week.
I have gained so much from participating in the Cornwall Workshop – it has really sharpened my focus in relation to making new work – particularly I am now thinking about the idea of ‘rural’ practices within heathland landscapes in the New Forest (close to where I live); how human understanding and intervention shapes its heritage and ecology.
I tend to think small, but I’ve been encouraged to think bigger and refine my practice,
so that I’m not spread thin over too many projects, and to talk to others about my work, more than I do.
This workshop was a great introduction for me to experience the landscape of Cornwall whilst sharing ideas, debating and making meaningful connections with other artists and ideas within the region.
The experience has set a seed that now needs to germinate.
I was thinking a lot about a commission I’m working on whilst at the workshop and the week has enriched my understanding of certain ideas I was figuring out as part of its development. It shifted my research to incorporate and explore further some of the writers and theorists we began to delve into, which is exciting.
Trying to pursue an artistic or curatorial practice can often be a bit of a struggle when we are all so busy juggling a million other things to pay rent and keep things ticking over – projects like the Cornwall Workshop really offer an invaluable experience and space to share thoughts, ideas, projects, and investigate important issues that affect our planet and how we live. More than anything I felt supported by and supportive of everyone who took part in the CW as we try to navigate and pursue our individual practices. For this reason it was an incredibly important week!