Background to the Project
The "KnoWhere" project was a collaborative digital arts initiative set up by London Fieldworks, an artist led organisation in Hackney. Artists Bruce Gilchrist and Jo Joelson combine art, science and emerging technologies to explore practice-as-research, often in remote and isolated locations.
The project invited sighted and visually impaired artists from a wide range of disciplines to work together to explore the human experience of light and landscape through perception, memory and the use of technology. I was invited to participate on this project as an artist and access advisor.
Video of Sally making a set of colour Monoprints based on the memory of the seas and skies of Lundy.
Running time of 13 and a half minutes.
A programme of theoretical and practical workshops was set up, drawing together artists from the fields of performance, painting, sculpture, music, glass making, electro-textiles digital arts and web design.
This was followed by a fieldtrip to Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel, where artists worked alongside each other to make work inspired in some way by the landscape we found there.
Falling for Lundy
A trip to the middle of the Bristol Channel in January to stay in an unheated barn with ten people you don't really know might foster some feelings of trepidation.
However, from the moment our helicopter left Westward Ho! and almost seemed to lollop joyfully over the fencing of the heliport like a horse let loose for a run, we were in the territory of real weather, the elements and the excitement started to set in.
The soft green fields of the Devon coast and Cornwall beyond fell away below. Though the Channel drizzle streaking down the windows from a burst rain cloud came through the distinctive shape of Lundy coming towards us, and it looked magical.
The first thing that struck me about Lundy was the huge skies. That's all there was, just sky. The horizon was low and flat with the island seeming to sit low in the water. No hills or outcrops. The only real landmark was a light house which could be seen from anywhere on the island. Other than that there was nothing, absolutely nothing.
Of course, the "nothing" was just big sky. The January weather was crisp and bright, with fast winds that changed the cloud formations in seconds. It was exhilarating to be able to see 360% in a landscape unrestricted by buildings and just watch the skyscapes unfurl like a film. From the spiral steps of the lighthouse the panorama and the drama of a sun slowly sinking into the sea could be witnessed accompanied by the relentless buffeting of the wind, which found its way into every recording made during our time on the island.
Used to drawing, painting or taking photographs in response to a location, this time I took video footage of the landscape. On my return, I found I had hours of different skies. They were dramatic, and nice to look at, but somehow I wanted to make a piece of work that reflected the experience of being on Lundy, without being such a literal representation.
On return to Hackney, I set about making a set of colour Monoprints based on the memory of the seas and skies of Lundy. With artist Bruce Gilchrist, on a freezing cold winter morning, we filmed the process of the prints being made outside using oil on glass shot from below. The series of abstract images were shot in real time and then edited.
Developing Practice - Experimenting with Description
The question of audio description had come up at various points during the project, as it was of particular interest to those involved. I had never incorporated writing as an integral part of my practice. I did not want to add a very dry and boring outline of the film with the intention of "providing access". Instead I wrote a piece to reflect the rhythm and narrative of the images, which was intended to be more evocative of the sense of place and the process of making rather than a straight description.
This project introduced me for the first time to the possibilities of using text, description and incorporating digital technology into my practice. This has informed both later art projects (see Still Lights) and the use of descriptions on this site.
Artists on the project included: Aaron Williamson, Bruce Gilchrist, Jo Joelson, Sally Booth, Kuljit Bhamra, Lynn Cox, David Gilchrist, Liz Porter, Felix Mood, David Rice, Isabel Cade, Peter Staples, Frances Geesin, and writer Tracey Warr.
Work made on the trip was exhibited and performed following the completion of the project at Milch and Underwood St Galleries in London and toured to other venues around the country (see exhibitions list).
The project was funded by London Arts through the Regional Arts Lottery Programme. For further information about London Fieldworks www.londonfieldworks.com