Mix of participants
I thought the range of participants selected was great. I appreciated the fact that there were writers, historians, curators and artists all mixed together; it opened my eyes to a whole range of creative practices and we had a lot to learn from one another. I also appreciated the range of ages and experience levels within the group; as one of the youngest participants I found it was really beneficial to learn from those with differing backgrounds and experiences.
The group was a great mix of people from a wide range of disciplines, and brilliant to include not just the usual traditional candidates with art backgrounds. There was no dominant voice, no alpha type – everyone was incredibly considerate and respectful of everyone else. It felt like a very safe place to share and exchange.
I liked that participants didn’t have to live in the South West. I feel that it was important that everyone had a strong connection to Cornwall as a place, which chimed with Elizabeth’s focus on ’place’ as a line of enquiry.
[The Workshop themes of Assembly, Archive and Place] relate to my own thinking currently and, whilst it wasn’t planned, the conversation did really revolve around these subjects, even during the resting moments. I feel this is because of the careful and thoughtful way the participants were selected and perhaps the connection each of our practices had to these themes. It was the glue that brought us together.
I loved the composition of the group. For me, the range of disciplines was particularly beneficial. It gave me a new level of understanding as to how the youth and family organisations I work for could work progressively and with impact with different artists and creative practitioners. Some of my previous experience of ‘community arts’-based working has been very negative. The workshop participants elevated my ideas around the potential quality and integrity of creative collaboration.
The bond between the members of the group became very tight and I feel I have not only made several friends for life, but I feel artistically connected to many of the other participants. The support structure that developed will continue. It felt like I was on a one-week crash course at the Städelschule! We temporarily became like Elizabeth’s cohort of students. This felt incredibly special and unique.
I really appreciated Elizabeth’s openness and generosity, both in relation to talking about her own practice and engaging with the group. This felt very natural and wasn’t just limited to scheduled activities. She felt genuinely supportive and interested in the group at all times. Simon Bedwell also brought something very unique to the workshop – there was something about his anti-establishment attitude that worked really well, and in a way made the workshop feel less academically intimidating or elitist.
I also really enjoyed Joseph’s contributions and presence, and he made me think about the use of language and text in a new and exciting way.
Initially I wondered how well dyslexic members of the group (including myself) would cope with the text readings. But this actually turned out to be one of the most positive aspects of the week. I think because the atmosphere felt so supportive and inclusive, people felt comfortable enough to contribute effectively.
Elizabeth was brilliant. Both her talks and screenings were fantastic. She was a great workshop leader, attentive to everyone, funny and sharp; she set us a really good open brief and was a joy to be around!
Laura Grace Ford’s talk and text particularly stood out for me, both her practice and the way she spoke about her work. ‘Notes on a Spectral Drift’, which was written especially for the workshop, is rather incredible – an alternative portrait of Cornwall. I’m completely intrigued by how she constructed this piece of writing. Another magical moment was when we all sat down in the farmhouse to read the text together, taking turns to read passages. I’ve rarely felt comfortable reading in public, and this was so enjoyable and so natural. The whole experience – not just Laura’s talk, but also Katrina’s presentation – has made me want to write more.
I loved the mysteriousness behind the workshop, not knowing how much was planned and how much was serendipity. I loved the reading groups and the way Elizabeth held them. I was completely blown away by both of Elizabeth’s talks, but the one at Falmouth was particularly amazing to me.
I think the highlights for me were the one-to-ones with the various leaders of the workshops and that these happened on walks, visits, over dinner and in the minibus travelling to various places in Cornwall. This allowed for a more frank and direct way of talking to knowledgeable and experienced leaders and practitioners whose feedback, stories and comments were invaluable to me.
I think for me it was not so much about individual moments or contributions, but rather the whole atmosphere of the workshop. I was really struck by how the workshop leaders – Teresa, Elizabeth, Simon and Joseph – got alongside us all and really engaged with everyone, both on an individual basis and as a collective.The conversations outside of the more formalised activities were just as, if not more, important to me. I think that’s testament to the approach of the workshop leaders – they fomented an environment in which the group gelled really quickly and people could have open and wide-ranging discussions.
I loved the evening we spent reading Laura Grace Ford’s ‘Notes for a Spectral Drift’ in the cottage with Elizabeth and Joseph. It was magical and very affecting. I loved her explorations of fictive spaces and production of new spaces for dreaming and I really enjoyed ‘e’-meeting Katrina Palmer and hearing about her practice. I loved the introductions, hearing about everybody’s practice on the first day, and the day we spent at CAST in the reading group.
Elizabeth Price was, without doubt, extraordinarily generous with her time and ideas. She’s so thoughtful in her approach to creating which was evident throughout the week. I particularly enjoyed the walks where people seemed very comfortable sharing ideas. My favourite off-site visit was to Goonhilly – just amazing. l couldn’t understand everything we were told there but it still completely changed my perception of Cornwall.
It was fantastic to have the accommodation at Kestle Barton. You could really immerse yourself in the residency. Having some of the hospitality and talks at CAST connected the residency even further to the South West art scene, making it feel like you were a part of something bigger and special. THE FOOD WAS AMAZING!
Kestle Barton has to be one of the most amazing settings to undertake a residency. What a privilege! The accommodation was perfect, everyone had enough space to not feel on top of each other, and there’s enough gathering space to meet all together comfortably. And what a luxury to have someone cook for us!
The accommodation was beautiful, the environment was peaceful and inspiring, and the food was glorious. It was above and beyond what I expected. It helped us to feel that the work was about participating in thought and collaborating with each other. The incredibly warm and generous hospitality extended to create a feeling of warmth and intimacy amongst us all.
As I live and work here, it’s personally important for me to forge connections with people who live in the area. It’s also important that opportunities for creative collaboration are decentralised and we don’t have to look to the South East and London to forge creative connections.
One of the reasons why I wanted to come was to develop some work that directly addresses issues of ‘place’ and Cornishness, so it was great to think that through with others, even if not explicitly. Potential benefits are obviously networking for those that are based in Cornwall or the South West, although I suppose for me, as somewhat of an outsider, it’s a sense that I can slot into that quite happily when I visit, and that those relationships are something that can be nurtured and developed if I want to make more work related to Cornwall (which I do!).
It was really interesting to have ‘place’ as the common ground. I think it was valuable for me as someone who has a complicated relationship with Cornwall (love/hate – have left, but kind of miss it) to see it through the eyes of other artists. It made me feel part of a community. At home.
Value and personal outcomes
Upon leaving this experience I felt over-saturated in the best possible way. I was bursting with inspiration and enthusiasm for my practice and where it could go. I have also met a great many people I’m confident I will stay in contact with – and it is through these relationships, I believe, that future outcomes might develop.
I think the immediate value was the friendships that formed, and the ideas that were sparked. It gave me a much clearer idea of how artists approach archives and “history”, which I hope will influence some of my work, as well as future collaborations with artists. It has made me think about how I could take some of my research more into the public sphere, and how working with artists can be a way of achieving this. But I think I was also struck by what a nurturing environment the workshop, and CAST more widely, provides for artists and others in Cornwall, and that this alone is of wider public benefit.
I have already had positive outcomes from the workshop. I was approached by Salford Art Collection for a new piece and, taking into account my feedback and one-to-one with Elizabeth, I’ve now got a new paid film commission. I had more confidence talking about my work and how I wanted to show it.
I’ve gained focus and determination from the workshop to really drive my art practice forward and to keep and grow the network of artists and friends I have made in Cornwall and the South West.
I certainly feel that the role of writing and language within my creative practice has become more integral as a direct result of the workshop. I’ve also made some really strong connections with participants and contributors alike, and am looking forward to some meaningful collaborations going forward.
I think the workshop’s focus on Cornwall and the South West (both as a location and for its creative community) benefits the wider community through encouraging creative activity and people to remain in the area. Cornwall is sometimes seen as a rural outpost, but this workshop positions it as a creative hub.
My confidence has come back and I feel like I’m more in touch with the art community than I was prior to the workshop. I feel stronger, more robust, and have been able to use a part of my mind that I was worried had faded away and was becoming irretrievable.
It was a complete revelation; it helped me to understand that I hadn’t abandoned my creative practice. Whereas before I was seeing the idea of a creative practice through a very restricted lens, the workshop allowed me to widen this and see everything I was doing as part of my practice. It was so lovely to understand that. I understood the value of time, and that I needed to honour this more, to think and read. I loved speaking to participants who worked in different mediums and used writing as a vital and important part of their practice. I believe it has started something really important that will definitely have long lasting benefits.
I gained a more detailed understanding of how the organisations I work with can develop a higher quality arts-based approach in their interventions with under-resourced communities. In the short term this has already led to initial discussions and access to developmental experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. It has also already influenced existing arts-based delivery at the Penzance based charity at which I work. Over the long term I anticipate (and have already begun work towards) a more intelligent, focussed, intentional and better-informed approach to our arts-based work – with higher quality and more impactful experiences for the artists and participants alike.
I came away feeling part of an artistic community and understanding Cornwall better, which l really appreciate.
I have found that my confidence in my place as an artist in the South West has grown as a result of the workshop. Despite living in Cornwall for the past couple of years, I have felt on the fringe of the art world and not felt confident to put myself out there – and Covid certainly has not helped with this. But after the experiences I have had and the connections I have made I hope to make much bigger strides into the local and wider arts communities.
The Cornwall Workshop felt different from other schemes, because it felt so wholeheartedly generous. Often developmental schemes can feel tight or there is a lot of hoop-jumping that has to happen, but this felt freeing, fun, exciting. I felt we were being taken seriously as artists, and were being fed exactly what we needed to develop and progress.
I think when you feed artists like that, they then have the capacity to make new and exciting work, which in turn feeds the public. Whether that’s through events, workshops, exhibitions, screenings, books…
There’s that great Sylvia Plath line ‘Love set you going like a fat gold watch’ – I think the Cornwall Workshop has set us going. Watch this space!