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Body and Place: From City to Sanctuary

by James on March 1st, 2017

Foest Map MaskThe Art of Outdoor Learning Exhibition came down at the weekend, and marked the end of my Green Town Group residency with the MK Gallery in Milton Keynes. On the 20th March I begin a new, 2 week residency at Hawkwood College near Stroud in Gloucestershire, focusing this time on my individual practice and research.

When applying for the Hawkwood College residency I focused on my wish to spend time in the woodland and gardens, noticing and recording the local animal and plant life, and experimenting with scale.

Belonging

This residency is a chance for me to sink deeper into my own ideas and experiences, as well as to revisit previous work, from within the context of the grounds and surroundings at Hawkwood.

Badger skull on body warmer

My socially engaged practice is key to my work, I connect with others and we each connect with our environment, and as a system, we each benefit the other. I also need time by myself, to notice what and how I am feeling, to allow the quieter voices to creep into my consciousness, and pay attention to new thoughts and ideas that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Composted bodies

At Hawkwood I want to be enveloped by the earth and the trees, to allow the land to wrap itself around me and revitalise my creativity. In a sense I see it as a retreat, not from the world, but from the pressures of time and money, which will allow me to become more present and more aware of my place and my role in the world.

Making Walking Pages

I want to offer myself up to the ‘more than human world’ and allow it to imprint itself onto my skin and seep in through my eyes, ears and nostrils, the roots and branches creeping under my skin and birdsong washing me clean.

Smelling fleece

My artwork will document my experiences, and lead to new forms of work, in turn informing and enriching future projects, when that time comes.

Jon holding flowers

I want to start to put more energy and focus into exhibiting my individual work, in the same way as I do for others. They are the two halves of my practice and neither could exist without the other. In The Art of Outdoor Learning, my Walking Bundles and Walking Pages were shown alongside images, text and objects sharing the work of local children with whom I collaborated. I want to start to make the relationship between the two more tangible, to draw out and disseminate the links between my bodily, imaginative experiences of place, and those that I create and offer to others.

Walking Bundles at MK Gallery

Walking Pages in exhibition

I’m currently looking for further opportunities to share my Walking Bundles, and Walking Pages (so let me know if you have any thoughts) and am excited at the thought of new, as yet unknown forms of work emerging from my time at Hawkwood, which I’ll share here as it develops.

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