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Gaps Residency Artist Document.

November 2011 Marina Sossi Preface Who am I? This is the eternal question I ask myself every day. I ask it continually in my practices as an artist and as a yoga practitioner. I ask myself if these practices or identities are actually the same; are they the same pathway or parallel paths? Do I divide myself further by following both, or do they each provide a space to reflect the other? I have always found it a challenge to define myself. When I am asked: So, Marina, what do you do? I feel myself shrinking, I feel pressurised to define myself in words and language and search for a smart, snappy answer. I am very often thrown into a dilemma, searching for the right phrases to do myself justice, but at the same time practicing some form of restraint. I do a whole lot of things, but which do I focus on to provide the most appropriate response? What do I call myself? Artist? Dancer? Performer? Yogi?...and, does it really matter? I guess it depends on who I am talking to, how I am feeling, the context of the question and how much the questioner really wants to know. How should I define myself? The act of making work, the creative process, is for me driven by the desire to do just define myself, find out who I am and express this to everything I assume not to be me. So therefore the ongoing unravelling of Who am I? is eternal and unending. A clear definition is therefore never quite adequate, or honest, it is ever evolving, changing and emerging. I wonder... if I knew who and what I was, would I be making art? maybe I wouldnt need to? My practice is rooted in the physical body. My own personal practices and what I teach tend to start with the physical, the tangible, the familiar and something we all have in common. In my own practice as a performer and movement artist, the body is the tool, it is the starting point, it is the thing that we have to overcome and simultaneously engage with. In teaching I have found groups and individuals have an immediate ability to respond to the physical (regardless of their physical ability/disability) and, if we ignore the physical then it usually gets in the way. So, by engaging with the body and all the senses it is predisposed to follow; we overcome the barriers to our own brilliance, our creativity can be accessed directly and we are all able to learn in the most inclusive way. My connection with Creativity Works had been as an artist facilitator. From 2006 I have been employed by what was nesa (North East Somerset Arts) mainly for the Creative Links project; delivering progressive arts workshops for people with enduring mental health challenges in Bath and North East Somerset including: drama & self expression with Mosaic (a social group and one to one support for service users and their carers from all ethnic minority and/or cultural backgrounds.) Several Drama & Creative writing courses with Women in Southville, Bath. Creating drama, films and journalism with young people in the Snowhill area, Creative Writing sessions with patients at Hillview Psychiatric unit at Bath RUH and as support artist for the recent Big Local Trust consultation.

At the time that the residency was in the ether, I had been working in different locations in the UK and abroad; teaching yoga in turkey, a pilgrimage and performing in India, a drama week with young people in Germany and residential enrichment courses with Able Gifted and Talented young people in Somerset. I had been homeless and on the move for the last 18 months and out of the usual routine of teaching regular classes and courses. This period had been very challenging and the sense of dislocation, isolation and insecurity that presented itself on a daily basis, offered me a deeper understanding and experience of being on the edges of society. This feeling of being disenfranchised, ignored and almost nonexistent is in my opinion an essential space to occupy for any artist, particularly one who considers themselves socially engaged. In order to socially engage, we have to appreciate the wider spectrum of experience in our society; socially, culturally, physically and spiritually and become fully aware of the ways inclusion and exclusion operate. As an artist I feel it is my duty to embrace the conflict and contradictions presented in our human experience and encourage both the cultivating of individual identity and the realisation of a harmonious whole. How can I do this better? The Gaps residency with Creativity Works was a learning journey, not just for me as the artist at the centre, but for everyone involved. It was a process which in itself can be identified as part of a larger journey (my artistic and spiritual evolution) and as a microcosm of the whole; particularly in terms of the creative/learning cycle, which was to become a feature of this entire project. It was a big responsibility to be at the centre of this activity, to hold this space. I suppose that is what I do, I hold space. To be more aware of this: what I do, how I do it and how I communicate this to others is how I will ultimately be able to do it better, to grow and to continue growing. Definition became an enduring theme throughout the residency, not just for me on my learning adventure, but for participants, Creativity Works and socially engaged arts practice. I come to the conclusion that this is my lifes work; to continually define Who I Am and through this realise Who I am.

Thanks: I would like to take this opportunity to thank a few people involved in this residency. Nelly Light for his constant provocation, guidance and support, Philippa Forsey for her continual support and trust in my process, (even when it seemed unfocussed or strange), Shaun Naidoo for his constant questioning, agitating and passion for learning, Jill Carter for her curiosity and understanding, Heather Bonsey for her unlimited positivity and warmth, Mark Wilcox for his endless enthusiasm and faith, Jill Bennett for her generosity and mentoring, Lesley Featherstone for her continued good work at Creativity Works, all the participants for their open hearts, patience and co-operation and Monica Sossi for a place to live.

Introduction Last Autumn I returned to the UK after a long period of traveling and working. I was not planning on another winter in the UK. My intention at that point was for pastures new, somewhere away from the south west, where most of my work had been based in the previous 18 years. The south west is also where I was born and brought up. As an artist I have often struggled with remaining on my own turf, so to speak, and found that my work is more openly accepted and welcomed in other countries far more readily than in the UK. To be local can often be seem as lesser, not interesting or exotic. At the point I was planning to depart, I was approached by Philippa Forsey from Creativity Works to have an informal chat about where I was at and where Creativity Works were headed; with their recent rebranding and new directions in the arts and well-being world. At this point in my work I was beginning to connect my arts and yoga practice in a more cohesive way. All the time I was making clearer connections between the two and through this my development as an arts practitioner, teacher and spiritual aspirant were accelerating and becoming clearer. The challenge now for me was how to articulate this confidently in a way that everybody could understand. Earlier that year I had performed a new piece in India which I had developed during my stay in Cholamandal Artist Village (just south of Chennai). This incredibly challenging period also consolidated the merging of my practices. The piece Beloved was influenced by my experiences in India: Tamil poetry, the teachings of Ramana Maharishi and traditional dance forms from Tamil Nadu, particularly Bharatanatyam which can be understood as an act of devotion, a ceremony, a celebration of the eternal universe through the material body and the embodiment of music in visual form. I was also very interested in the idea of the Avatar; as an earthly incarnation of a Hindu deity and as a representation of a person or idea in cyberspace or otherwise. The piece combined Butoh dance and original poetry, structured as five inter-connecting solos sequences. I collaborated with resident artist Shailesh Bo; a sculptor and painter in the village, creating an installation in the sculpture garden, where the outdoor stage was situated. The other artist was Vasundhara Mukundan, a graduate of the prestigious arts school Kalakshetra Foundation, who provided the voice for my words. Beloved explores themes of duality and oneness, the pain of separation and the yearning for union. I was exploring the ideas of dance and artistic practice as devotional acts, drawing both audience and artist closer to the divine. The body being the vehicle for transformation and realisation. The body as vehicle, material or tool has provided an enduring direction in my work. In the longer term, I have also extensively explored the idea of space, putting myself, my body, in that space and exploring concepts of void, emptiness, nothingness. During a period of research and development for my first solo work starting in 2004, I put myself in the empty space without direction or an outside eye (apart from video for my own reflection) and over time discovered (amongst other things) that the body becomes the sculptor of space and vice versa and out of this something other invariably emerges. My work is influenced by Japanese theatre, the plays of Samuel Beckett, 18th century romantic poets, Clown & Comedia del Arte and I am inspired by performance artist Marina Abramovic, philosopher Slavoj iek In all my work I am interested in framing space and observing what occurs. Whether working alone or with other people I have found it productive to create boundaries in physical space, timeframes or rules, without this the infinite options available for live work can seem

overwhelming and inertia or confusion invariably set in. With other artistic mediums these boundaries can already be inherently defined. For example, if you are working with physical materials, paint, clay, fabric there is already a given resistance provided by the materials themselves. With boundaries set in place we are able to observe and engage with the creative impulse and measure the tension between: the need to intervene, provoke and take action with yielding, releasing and remaining passive. When we are restricted in any way it can be a great aid to our creativity; Create something with these limitations? may provoke a far more dynamic creativity than, Create whatever you want... My first meetings with Philippa began in November 2010. We discussed the development of Creativity Works and how the proposed residencies would help to inform and shape the organisation as well as pave the way for future residencies. The three residencies funded by the Arts Council had very clear prescribed outcomes, objectives and values. The intention was for the artist to create the residency, to be involved from the ground up, part of its fabric and party to every element in its construction. Clearly the artist was central, with an emphasis on their professional development and mentoring. This appealed to me as I was at a point in my work where I needed nurture and support as well as a desire to connect with others. The residencies were for socially engaged arts practice around the area of health and well being, with particular emphasis on mental health. CW were interested in exploring what socially engaged arts practice actually means in this context and were keen to work alongside the artists, observing their methodology and approach and with a keen interest in the artists process and practice. We want to know how you think. Lesley Featherstone It was recognised right from the beginning that all the people involved in this residency were part of a learning journey as well as being on their own individual learning journey. Learning became a key focus for the residency and progression for the artist, participants and CW also a key objective proposed by the arts council. At this time CW was evolving and redefining itself as an organisation and there was the potential for this residency to form a model for future ways of working and to explore new approaches to engaging with communities. It was clear also that CW wished to raise the profile of their work and Arts and Health in general to a wider forum which not only promoted understanding of this growing area, but also opened up new and exciting dialogues for artists, arts professionals, health professionals and academics. Once we were agreed on the basic principle of my taking the residency on, Philippa and I began to discuss my potential directions, who I might work with and how I might engage with groups and individuals in the area of BANES. There was also the issue of evaluation. For this particular residency there was a clear intention to look for external evaluation rather than CW doing this in-house with standard questionnaires, reports and feedback gathering. The external evaluation/evaluator would also potentially give the residency and the work of CW some recognition in the academic field, from resulting lectures/articles/written papers. After meetings I would often process and explore my ideas and thoughts with my own version of mind-mapping using large pieces of paper filled with words, phrases, questions, diagrams, drawings and colour. I often feel the need to get everything out of my head and onto something I can see in front of me. Creating a visual object from thought and dialogue is a natural way for me to start a process. I engaged in this process on varying scales (A3 to A0 in physical dimension) at several points during the residency; these snap shots of my vision at any point in time provided useful reference points, acted as reminders (which I

would sometimes add to) and offered an open space to vomit out and process all the conversations, ideas and research that swam around in my mind. Interestingly I saw similar ways of processing when Philippa and I attended Bobby Bakers WIP exhibition/talk at Bath University ICIA, Mad Gyms and Kitchens. Her diary drawings and intertwined words and diagrams were displayed as artworks in the exhibition and in her talk she discussed mental illness, recovery and well-being. Questions arose about whether she was a socially engaged artist and I briefly discussed this with Jill Carter a fellow artist in residence with CW who I met there for the first time. Evidently this is a term which requires further definition and in my opinion the best way to do this is through the practice of social engagement itself.

Chapter 1: Methodology Ground Work Having a history with nesa (the previous incarnation of CW) there may have been certain expectations of how I might work and who I might wish to work with. CW were keen for artists to work with existing groups in the community that they had a history with. It was suggested I select several groups from the pool that were currently involved with CW and I was also encouraged to explore ways that might connect or knit together these groups. This idea certainly appealed to my proved ability to connect things and responded to a desired outcome for the residency; to build bridges, create links and cultivate progression. Extensive discussions between Philippa and I regarding the potential direction of this residency at first helped to dismiss certain ideas. I didnt feel that we would be working toward a performance, this was mainly due to the limited timeframe and the decision to work across several groups. It was also clear to me that this residency was not working toward some known outcome, end result or presentation. To me this would not be true to the brief but merely me imposing my own ideas. It was becoming clearer that this project would not be known until the engagement actually began. In some ways this was unnerving, but suited my spontaneous spirit and conviction in others. My initial idea was to encourage participants from three different groups to respond to each others work creatively and begin a chain of creative response. I was inspired by Andy Warhols series of short silent films that became known as Screen Tests. In these intimate living portraits from the 1960s the sitter gazes into the motionless camera for the duration of a length of film (2 and a half minutes) I considered adapting this idea, maybe with some simple instructions given to each sitter. These portraits could then be presented to other groups who would then be encouraged to respond to these characters by creating their own dramas, poetry and scripts from them. So we begin very naturally from what is immediately presented and then by looking deeper we penetrate the surface, and in doing so have the opportunity to indirectly explore ourselves. I liked this format as it removed the pressure to perform or create something external to the participants own experience. Instead it promoted observation, appreciating the present, connecting with others and being. I also realised that the format could also be quite provocative and for some people being on camera would be a definite no-no. (Interestingly, it was the young people who had the most resistance to this, not as I assumed, those with mental illness) I tentatively entitled this potential project Like Life as a play on Lifelike; considering the difference between the real and unreal, truth and fiction, looking at the drama of the everyday and ordinary. After discussing this idea with Philippa she set up some meetings with representatives from potential groups. These were selected from a wide array of groups that CW already had a relationship with, had funded or were currently funding projects and providing artists for. As well as participants there were many other people and networks involved in the project. Each of the groups that I was considering working with had leaders, support workers and representatives to connect with. So once a selection of groups had been narrowed down, meetings were set up to discuss my ideas and how they might work. Philippa and I met with Clare from Rethink (running groups for people with severe mental illness) and talked about the groups current work with digital photography and music. We explored the suitability of

the Likelife project and although there was a lot of enthusiasm about my way of working, there were also doubts about participants and their feelings about being on camera as well as being identified as having mental illness. We discussed various ways of accommodating the vulnerability of these individuals and remaining inclusive, which was and is of paramount importance to me in socially engaged practice. Potentially easing into the project by initially linking to the photography of the groups current project and finding ways to respond creatively to their own and others images. As well as generating ideas to work from this would also build trust and familiarity; a relationship between myself and the participants. After this meeting I reflected with Philippa and allowed the impact to act on my ideas. One of my strengths as an artist is in my flexibility and ability to respond to everything around me, this can sometimes have the inverse affect of seeming directionless or ungrounded. Over the years of reflecting on my process and practices, I have realised that all my strengths can equally be my weaknesses; my sensitivity to everything and everybody can result in sensory and emotional overload, my instinctive nature can come across as unstructured and random and my deep yearning to connect can come across as desperate. Taking all of Clares concerns onboard we met soon after with Heather Bonsey from BANES mental health team who was representing the Inspirational Art group; a group of people coming together weekly to paint, draw and support one another, all of whom have enduring mental heath issues. Heather had supported the group over the years it had been operating, and over this time they had attained charitable status, funding and put on their own exhibitions. I was particularly drawn to including this group as I had worked with some of the members previously (Many had attended the various drama and/or creative writing courses I ran for Creative Links.) I had also enjoyed working with Heather and found her enthusiasm for creativity and learning very reassuring and helpful. She would also participate whole heartedly and encourage others to feel more comfortable to join in, trust and let go of their inhibitions: quite simply, to play. The meeting was positive and open and as a result I felt my ideas evolving in a way that would respond to the groups current situation. The group were going through a period of great change; Heather was uncertain at the time of the future of her position and felt it a good time to begin withdrawing from the group. There was resistance to this change and the responsibility it would place on all members to manage themselves: opening up the hall, organising the setting up and putting away, ordering materials, making decisions and taking roles. Evaluation & Mentoring Philippa and I noted at this time how many things connected to the residency were in flux and states of change. Numerous people and organisations (CW included) were hanging in the balance, uncertain of their futures, their jobs, their funding. There was a palpable feeling of unease which in some cases perpetuated stagnation; people too afraid to do anything other than stand still and wait, too despondent to start new projects, take any risks or consider anything beyond the immediate day to day. This conversation arose again in our first meeting with Marian & Shaun Naidoo, the prospective external evaluators. Philippa had been mentored by Marian and was impressed by how the experience had challenged her and impacted on her work. The Naidoos specialise in working with groups, organisations and individuals applying action research living theory, inclusional practice and creativity for development and transformation. We had an lively discussion and I felt comfortable and excited by the prospect of working together. The Naidoos were both passionate about learning and the potential for change through creativity and I felt we an affinity as both have a theatre background. There was a second meeting to discuss how we might work together and from this point our intention was to video all meetings and conversations. Video was a

key tool for the Naidoos work, as a way to evaluate and measure learning and a tool for people to reflect upon and realise their own learning. Relationship was also a key subject of discussion. For me relationship is always the starting point for working with other people. When we relate and connect and really see the other, we become familiar and comfortable and from this are able to develop trust; the foundation for any individual or group to confidently engage with their creativity. You have to feel comfortable in order to be confident Jo, Inspirational Art Group Shaun Naidoo became the external evaluator. At this point I have to admit that if I had realised how much more time, commitment, research, emotional challenge and provocation this would entail I might have thought twice about entering into this relationship. We set a timetable for our face to face filmed conversations and also decided to use Skype for practicality. Our first conversation was at Ruskin Mill Arts and Crafts Centre, we took a walk around the grounds which were inspiring and pleasant. Shaun started his questions and I was quite taken aback when he opened with Who are you?. I learnt that this was the first of the three key questions that are continually referred to in Living Theory: Who are you? What do you do? How can you do it better? I explained how Who am I? related to my practice of Atma Vichara (self enquiry), but didnt feel that my practice was really understood, the idea of self being bound up with so many contradictions, complexity and concepts. The conversation continued and moved location to another centre. I began to feel under scrutiny, like there were certain answers I was trying in vain to find, answers that might satisfy the questioner into silence. At certain points Shaun seemed irritated by my answers, I felt like a rabbit in the headlights. Maybe he wanted to crack me, or for me to crack, I didnt feel that this was necessary and I hadnt yet developed the level of trust for this to happen anyway. Shaun pointed out my inability to articulate myself clearly which only served to undermine my confidence and after hours of interview I drove home feeling totally exhausted, confused and angry. During the conversation Shaun labelled me a living contradiction, which I found out was a term from Living Theory: 'I' contained two mutually exclusive opposites, the experience of holding certain values and the experience of their negation. I didnt get the feeling that this was a good thing to be, but something to overcome. My belief is that true understanding and realisation come from embracing contradictions and allowing sense to emerge from the conflicting ideas. My trust was challenged and I really began to feel under pressure not only from Shaun, but from the increasing number of voices I was listening to. Who are you? What do you do? How can you do it better? Shaun Naidoo, Evaluator. As well as Philippa and Shaun I also talked and shared my ideas with Neil Light who I had lived with and worked with on a variety of projects, ideas and concepts for 15 years. His academic approach helped me to be clearer, more methodical and disciplined in my approach and to how I might structure my work and maintain transparency in my process. I was encouraged to diversify my research beyond the usual bounds of arts and health, other artists work, socially engaged practice etc. and begin to explore methodology, methods of research, philosophical approaches and definitions. Shauns style of evaluation had a strong aspect of mentoring, which although I found challenging was also immensely valuable. This was very different from the mentor that Philippa and I had arranged for the residency: Jill Bennett (Engage Programme Co-ordinator at the Theatre Royal Bath) had a wealth of experience working on community arts projects

and with great success, particularly her most recent project; the celebrated large scale Community production of Ben Hur at the TRB in 2009. Jill was the one completely neutral party in the residency as she was unpaid, had no vested interest and no involvement with any participants or CW. This fact was very liberating for both of us. I suggested we conduct the mentoring sessions via Skype as I was familiar with this mode of communication and had found it very practical. This was something new for Jill and she was happy for an excuse to get Skype set up and try it out. After our initial session on Skype, I found her observations about it very astute. The fact that it minimises the social niceties that would occur if we were to meet in person: getting comfortable, cups of tea, chit chat etc. as well as the additional travel time and cost, instead we would get straight to the point and use this communication tool to do just that, communicate. Over the whole residency we checked in for four, hour long sessions about every 3 or 4 weeks. With these evenly spaced interludes, it was interesting to hear Jills observations and reflections on my progression from her perspective. Noticing the clear changes in my attitude and development over the residency enabled her to map the curve of my learning journey and for this to be reflected back to me accordingly. Shaun asked me to consolidate my thoughts and feelings after our initial conversations but before the engagement with participants commenced. He suggested that I express this in whatever medium felt appropriate to me. On this occasion, poetry felt the perfect format. My poem The Inbetween not only reflects where I was at the time, but has resonated with me throughout the residency. For the following months it has unravelled and delivered ever deeper truths and premonitions. The Inbetween: Poem (see attached) I was very aware of my dreams around this time, as I usually am during creatively charged periods. I always have a notebook and pen at my bedside as I have found dreamtime an interesting place to process and stimulate ideas. I would often write notes and sketch before sleeping: words, images, diagrams and on this occasion cartoons with speech bubbles. I think this came from the multiple voices that I was paying attention to. I then realised that the speech bubbles were in themselves gaps suspended between people, expectant pauses waiting to filled. the speech bubbles became an emblem for the residency acting as a tool for feedback, expression and humour. Jill Carter Artist in Residence At the point where all the initial set up meetings and planning were over I was invited to attend Jill Carters CoCreate event at the Royal Academy Bristol. The event marked the end of her residency with an exhibition of her photographs and artifacts Dreams Masks and Mirrors and also coincided with the real beginning of my engagement with participants. At this point I had attended a few of Jills journalling sessions with My Time My Space (a group for women with post natal depression to meet and engage in creative activity). This was one of the groups I was interested in working with. It occurred to me that there may be sparks from the work they were already doing with Jill, that could be kindled and expanded upon. In addition, the fact that the group would no longer exist beyond Jills residency also appealed, particularly in response to the Arts Councils objective of progression. Philippa and I had a meeting with Jill Carter to talk about her residency. It was a good opportunity for me to ask her questions about her work and the residency: her approach, what she had learnt, any advice she could give me and what she would have done differently. I also filmed this session. Now and also at the time of the residency I was aware of the impact

the Action Research Living Theory (that the Naidoos introduced me to) was already having on my own approach and way of processing the information I was gathering. After this meeting Jill asked me if I would like to interview her about her residency, on camera, at Radstock Library. I was fairy competent with the basics of filmmaking having assisted Neil Light on many projects, but up until now had never used the professional camera and sound equipment independently. This struck me as a perfect opportunity to go solo and learn for myself. After a practical instruction session with Neil and the equipment, I felt confident to take the task on. It is interesting to see Jills perspective on this session from her blog:
12/Feb/11 08:09 Marina filmed me in the Radstock library talking about my residency. To my horror when the video camera viewer swiveled round, there was sitting a middle aged woman in front of the Large Print books looking exhausted. Flip I thought, as she niftily organised sound kit and her long legs dressed in black leather shorts... Things weren't feeling so good. Why had I worked like mad over the last few months - was I on some sort of quest? I answered the questions as best I could in response to her bright enquiries, as she was the new artist in residence. But I was feeling rather on the spot.

What I learnt from this was something very obvious and very human that we all need reminding of; that no matter how inadequate, unworthy, uncertain, unconfident, scared or alone we feel, we are never alone...everyone experiences these feelings at some point or another. At the end of the interview I encouraged Jill to do a timed writing exercise; writing spontaneously without stopping for 5 minutes, giving her the starting line Whatever you had lurking in the cupboard is revealed.... Jill Carter, Artist This line was something she had said during the interview while we were discussing the My Time My Space group. She was talking about motherhood and her lyrical phrase struck me, particularly in terms of aligning it with artistic process; giving birth to something and putting it out into this world (coincidently the title of my current collaborative project). Jill seemed to totally relax and engage whilst writing her piece, the act of creativity providing release, the page a space for self expression. Creative writing exercises are something I use consistently in my work for these very reasons. At the very least a five minute exercise will refresh and a deliver a greater level of clarity, by emptying thoughts out and creating some movement through the physical act of pen on paper, making marks and connecting the mind to the body. Research With all the meetings and interviews and conversations in this early stage of the residency my research was driven to question and define what socially engaged art means. Is an artist's role in working with communities to make art or to fix problems? What is the purpose or point? Is an outreach project with excluded individuals legitimate art or therapy? Who is the author of a collaborative, participatory artwork? Who is practising socially engaged art? What does social engagement mean to artists? How is socially engaged arts practice evolving and what could it become? Who should pay for this?

These were ongoing questions which continuously underscored many of my interactions. I felt that the best way to approach these was through the engagement itself, keeping their demands peripheral rather than as direct discourse. I allowed my ongoing background research and study to be quite broad and follow whatever line intrigued or excited me; following up lines of enquiry that came from my numerous interactions, exploring and making connections. I returned to academic thought and theory, looking at structuralism (and post structuralism), feeling the need to balance my open approach with an academic grounding that may inform a sound methodology. I had recently (over previous months) been researching and developing ideas for a theatre piece on Jean-Paul Satre and Simone De Beauvoir, so study of philosophers and theorists was a natural direction for me to follow. Amongst many others, I looked at Deridas, Deleuze, Lacan, Hegel and of course the current intellectual hero, Slovenian philosopher and critical theorist Slavoj iek. I am particularly inspired by iek on many levels; for his diversity, his confrontational, engaging attitude and ability to embrace inconsistencies, controversy and conflict and also for the way he has emerged from obscurity to world fame, but still retains his depth and I did most of my research online: reading articles and books and watching lectures and interviews on Youtube. I found the European Graduate School channel on Youtube and Google Talks videos particularly inspiring. Some of the more directly relevant study I undertook was looking at different concepts, understanding and mapping of the creative cycle and learning cycles. This cycle has always held an appeal for me. I learnt a great deal about researching from the Action Research Living Theory that the evaluation method introduced me to. I found Jean McNiffs Concise advice for new action researchers booklet particularly informative. The most precise and accessible example of the creative cycle is the breath. The breath is central to all my work. It is absolutely key to every aspect of being, because it IS being. Zizek is interested in the "parallax gap" separating two points between which no synthesis or mediation is possible, linked by an "impossible short circuit" of levels that can never meet. From this consideration of parallax, Zizek begins a rehabilitation of dialectical materialism.
The parallax view, Slavoj iek

Gaps In the midst of this, the concept or overall framing for the residency was becoming clearer. After much consideration and discussion the initial idea of Likelife was losing ground. Concerns about inclusivity began to shift me away from focussing on film and as the evaluation was based on filmed conversations and reflecting upon these, it seemed less appropriate still. By now I was clear about my overall approach, I identified this as: To remain open and responsive, this was to provide a consistent and clear line of guidance, a unchanging point of reference when everything else was likely to be in flux. In the introduction to this essay I discussed how my performance work focussed on space and the body as a sculptor of space. Space and the body were consistently appearing in my process and I began to consider how I might work with this more directly or place it more central to the engagement. I was concerned that presenting space as a concept to the participants may be too broad and overwhelming. I considered ways of framing or containing that space. In answer, Holes resurfaced as a motif (explored during R&D for performance project Morning Star with Neil Light). The hole in the human, the space or void that demands to be filled, as metaphor for the yearning in the soul which drives us on our spiritual quest. This drive can be recognised as the human potential and creative activity activates and engages us with this limitless potential. This line of enquiry lead quite naturally

to the concept of GAPS. The idea of a gap was a way of framing space, identifying edges or designating a boundary for creativity to flourish within. The idea of a gap also suggests something missing, a space demanding to be filled, a need to connect or be bridged. This Gap can be seen as relationship; the tension between two objects that provoke a reaction; the pause, conflict, expectation creates drama and there there is creative energy generated by it. The gap between ideals and actualities, between dreams and achievements, the gap that can spur strong men to increased exertions, but can break the spirit of others...
George F Will

Socially engaged practices are a way of empowering the disempowered and including the excluded, and can achieve radical and remarkable transformations. But they are not quick and easy solutions to long-term problems. The conflicts and contradictions between art and problem solving, the bridging of the gaps between privileged institutions and socially excluded groups, and the need to develop new and appropriate cultural and critical contexts for these practices are just some of the issues that still need to be unpicked.
John Jordan, social sculptor.

The Learning Being the focus of so many people, each voice demanding a different angle on my thoughts and intentions and giving each voice the attention and consideration it deserved, often had the effect of confusing my vision, planting seeds of doubt and at the lowest point generated panic, fear and the consequent knocks to my confidence. I was fortunate to have the long term practical experience and ongoing study of the creative and learning cycles to have come to realise that this point; the doubting, despairing and becoming stuck, invariably occurs just before a breakthrough, so rather than giving up or giving in to the inertia the key is to accept it and stay true to my approach: To remain open and responsive. This of course, is much easier if you have the support of like minded people, a neutral friend or mentor. So, these feelings of doubt came and went, each day a clearer picture of how I was going to engage and what I would actually do also came and went. The constant in all this; my relationship with Philippa, her ongoing support and guidance from the very start was essential to the success of the project. Her belief and growing trust in me, was also fundamental to my own mental equilibrium during the entire project. I always felt that we were both learning from the continual open exchange between us. My internal dialogue asked: What is it Im offering as an artist? Am I actually offering nothing? Well yes, in a way I am; I suppose a Gap could be regarded as a piece of nothing. I had to hold my line of enquiry, and trust in my experience and practice, even though at times I found it demanding to articulate this line to the people who were supporting me, funding me and evaluating me. In some ways the participants were easier to get on board, because my contact with them was the engagement itself, the doing, rather than talking, justifying, or conceptualising. Trying to articulate or comprehend practice as an intellectual concept of the mind is always a challenge. Writing this now, one year later, it is fascinating for me to look back at my thoughts, attitudes and mindset then, compared to how I feel now. I can now see the extent the residency has impacted upon my practice and personal journey and also how it may have directed me through the 7 months since: between the culmination of the residency at the end of March 2011 and now: November 2011.

Documenting & Recording For the entirety of the residency, for 5 months, I made copious notes and drawings on my laptop and on paper I also gathered photographic images and evidence as well as making several video diaries and videoed interviews/conversations. To record and reflect on my practice so consistently was new for me and sometimes seemed an added burden. But it was a great discipline for me to get used to. I have noticed since the residency my tendency to be more attentive to the various modes of recording my practice and process and this has been incredibly useful and informative. Over the years. many of my experiences making theatre have absolutely no record, no evidence whatsoever. Photos and recordings were really only ever an afterthought, superfluous to the actual work of making, the only exception was if this aspect of image making was part of the work itself. So unless there was a photographer, filmmaker or reviewer actively on board, the work existed only in the moment and now remains as a vaporous memory. With this in mind what followed could be considered a cosmic joke (or disaster in a less enlightened frame of mind). Not long after the residency ended on March 31st 2011, my laptop suddenly packed up: the white screen of death (as it is known on the applemac discussion sites) appeared before me. After an appointment at the Apple shop and subsequent last ditch attempts at resuscitation, (including putting the hard drive in the freezer, praying and idle threats) it was time to give in. Everything that I hadnt transfered onto my newly acquired external hard drive was also but a vaporous memory. Luckily the major artifacts from the residency were all preserved; most photos, film footage and contacts were all intact. However, my ongoing notes and web tags and all images and records of all my research were gone. My emails and hard copy paper notes, drawings and print outs were all that remained. So, I write this now untethered by mountains of research notes and in some ways with a greater freedom. I found this to be the upside of losing your hard drive: off loading all the baggage and starting afresh (very much like the act of making live art forms, where there are no stacks of canvasses or unwieldy sculptures filling the space) In some ways the Gap ended up finding me, and stuck a great big one in my residency.

Chapter 2: My Time My Space 1000-1200 words 4 sides I first visited the My Time My Space group during Jill Carters residency. I was kindly invited to join in the journalling session with the women and enjoyed the gentle, supportive space that Jill created and the easy conversation and laughter that she encouraged. Everything that emerged in the two hours the women spent away from their babies was processed within the confines of the journal. I could see this had become a sacred space for some of the women, a place to express, rant, emote or be playful. I enjoyed the session as a participant and drew a picture of a pregnant woman with my face, which seemed to capture the way I was feeling at this point in the residency; planning and preparing for its birth. I spoke to Shaun about the group and he wanted to know what I was planning to do with them. I knew that the journals were a rich and vibrant resource and could act as a the starting point for my engagement. The women felt safe within the confines of their book, it was their Gap, a space for themselves to explore who and what they were in this new identity of mother. Jill had developed a great trust that enabled the women to pour themselves into their journals and share and express within the group. Becky: Writing can be quick, you dont need anything, just paper and pen. I dont think about what I write- just write how I feel in the moment. My immediate instinct was to give these pages voice or embodiment, I realised that this might take the women out of their comfort zone, but could see this as the natural path to well becoming. At this stage I wasnt yet sure how I was going to do this, but knew for certain that I would have to gain their trust and this would take time. As I had decided to spread the residency over 3 groups the sessions with each group were limited, so I decided to include a few crossover sessions with Jills to create a bridge from her residency to mine. Working with the women as part of the group meant I got to know them and could be sensitive to their individual journeys. I found out about the people they had been before motherhood, what they had put away in the cupboard (using Jills analogy) as well as what was being revealed now in their new persona of Mother. Identity was what they were all struggling with and this is another way I identified with them: who I was and what I was giving birth to. Being with this group of women was a very intense experience for me; emotional and reaching out to the very essence of my womanhood. I was very much aware that I was a women who hadnt had children; childless rather than child-free. I realised how much I had prioritised my art work, these were my babies and most now only existed as ghosts. I was reminded of my early solo work: Miss Majorca. This was a silent piece in which I was addressing empty space; empty space waiting to be filled, expectant and yearning, spaces internal and external. As with all my work (particularly my solo performances), the period I make and perform them is only ever the first layer of understanding and this inevitably expands with each audience. As time goes on, more is revealed and I am drawn to revisit these pieces from a desire to re-evaluate, but inevitably I make something new. Now I discover Miss Majorca was not only about loss of love, but loss of something that never was or never will be: unfulfilled potential. This is worth mentioning as this theme is essentially what drives me in my personal practice and equally attracts me to work as a socially engaged artist. I mentioned earlier in this essay that the time of the residency seemed to be a period of change for a lot of organisations and individuals. This impacted on venue that the MTMS group had been meeting. The Childrens Centre in Radstock was being refurbished, so we had the issue of finding an appropriate venue, with childcare provision, available on the right day at the right time and in an accessible location for everybody concerned. This possible obstacle could have marked the end of my engagement before it began, but once I explored what was

being presented to me I realised that the obstacle could actually an opportunity. This perspective remained with me throughout my engagement with MTMS and in some ways was to serve as the biggest lesson: Overcoming obstacles and dealing with constant change could equally be seen as potential opportunities for growth and learning. Vicky: I think that I have changed. I look at things in a different way. My hopes for the sessions were that we would progress and overcome these obstacles and learn together to a point where they would feel equipped and confident enough to become autonomous. This was specially important in this instance as the MTMS group would no longer exist after my sessions with them. I was anxious about following such a successful residency, that the women would compare find it difficult to enter into this new engagement whole heartedly. As new mothers they were constantly dealing with change, I was concerned about how much more they would be able to take on board, without getting overloaded. I didnt want to postpone this first session, so with no venue or childcare our first engagement was determined as walking/talking with photography & video along the disused railway line in Radstock. This was a good way for easy conversation to flow between us as we moved through space alongside each other with the still and video cameras encouraging observation of things outside of ourself. I gave the direction to look for and photograph Gaps in the environment this served to stimulate creative activity, conversation and connection with each other, as well as the chance to get hands on with equipment: for some to try something new and others to re-engage with their forgotten skills. This walk was followed by refreshments and a short creative writing session. This was held in a pleasant private space within the church tea rooms, where the babies could play and be watched comfortably during the session and tea and cake were available to oil the creative wheels! This combination of a creative walk followed by writing worked well and threw up powerful emotions. I have become very used to this and accept it as part of the process. Afterwards I spoke with Philippa about the session and she suggested a check out when working with such sensitive material. This is something I have made more of a priority since, ensuring that time limitations do not jeopardise this important aspect of the work. Becky: I understand myself more and become more reflective through writing and self expression. Movement is fundamental to my work as I believe it should be in life, because it is life. I notice a lot of time working with groups this can be ignored. But I have experienced that if we ignore the body it will soon demand our attention in various ways, making blocks and distraction away from our creativity. I was keen for the women to feel comfortable moving, to find ways to embody the wealth of expression they poured into their journals. Actively moving the body can be worrying for many people, and these new mothers had to get used to new bodies, bodies that had changed, that maybe they didnt recognise or feel comfortable inhabiting. With all this in mind I began the movement session at the Westfield Childrens Centre inviting the women to lie down comfortably on the ground. I talked them through grounding their bodies, breathing and relaxing then progressed to standing into moving slowly through space, walking freely and with awareness in different parts of the body. We then worked in a partner mirroring exercise. This was followed by a feedback session and sharing anything from the weeks journal. The relaxation was particularly popular although moving clearly challenged everybody, but without putting anyone off completely.

Vicky: Sometimes I felt a bit daft to start off with, but soon relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed the Gaps sessions, especially the relaxation. Kate: Relaxation and moving; walking around you can move and its OK. I felt free...a bit of freedom. The following sessions developed this work further. Each person chose one page from their Journal and each created a living sculpture from it. Each person shared and explained their sculpture and guided the rest of the group to emulate it. As a group we chose a piece of music and moved through the sequence of sculptures with our bodies for the length of the music and in our own timing. I suggested the group might like to see and reflect on the beauty of their composition and offered to film them the following week. In the last session which I wrote up as part of the evaluation the women allowed themselves to be filmed. I gave instruction and encouragement throughout and the session was very challenging for everyone. Due to a double booking the session took place in the creche and although in some way s this was disappointing, in others seemed appropriate. From now on this is how it would be; continuing the creativity and community without the support of myself, CW or the creche. In addition I asked one of the women (who had not attended the previous Living Sculpture session) if she would like to respond to the movement with creative writing, which she did beautifully. Her words were incorporated into the final short film Charlies Field edited together from the footage from that day and including photographs and images from the journals that related to the Gaps sessions. Stacey: In the video I can see how well we work together. Not self conscious. I see honest and genuine expression. We have trust and sharing. Becky: Watching the video, Im surprised at how emotional we are. In the movement sessions, there was a feeling of togetherness and support. Doing something physical together. So movement became an inspiration for writing, when previously writing had been a starting point for moving and so we came full circle. Charlies Field successfully encapsulates and reflects all of our learning journeys, individually and as a group, but more than anything reveals how connection and creative activity will emerge from the Gaps given a framework around that space that is supportive and comfortable enough but also exerts the appropriate pressure. The Gap provided a place for the individuals in the group to explore and reflect on their own identity, self expression and learning together. Stacey: I have remembered that I am a creative person. I have learnt to be more playful and not so focussed on perfect results.

Chapter 3: Time Out The large percentage of my arts practice has involved engagement with young people, specifically teenagers. But in the past couple of years this had diminished and I was keen to take the opportunity to involve the Timeout Youth drop in centre, Keynsham in the residency. I had not worked in this type of environment before, as most of my youth engagement had been set groups at set times in contained spaces, rather than the transient and fluid space I would be presented with here. The initial meeting in Keynsham with Philippa, Mark Wilcox (Youth worker) Jules Allan (Arts Development Worker) and Chris Kemp (Artist, Suited and Booted) left me none the wiser, although gave me a direction to follow. Chris the artist already had an established relationship with Timeout and Mark the youth worker. He was about to begin a project to design and create a Feelgood App for smartphones and Facebook. We discussed how my work might connect with this, I found it difficult to articulate what I intended to do with the young people as I hadnt connected with them and their place yet. Because of this maybe I felt that working together may be mutually beneficial. The collaboration that was proposed, that I initially felt excited by, began to create some doubts: How was I going to work with someone brand new in a new environment in such a short space of time. Was I just piggy backing the other artists project? Did my lack of intervention put me in a weak and ineffectual position? Had I backed myself into a corner before Id even started? Quite soon after this Chris had his first session and emailed me to say he didnt need me. I felt rejected, but soon got over it when I realised I was out of the corner and free to continue with my own approach. What can be seen as rejection can also be observed as a nudge in the right direction if you dont dwell on it or take it personally. I first visited Timeout on a regular drop in night with a few ideas about how I might engage with the young people creatively, get to know them and the staff and test the water to see what their creative interests might be. I had a few quick creative writing exercises and speech bubble cartoons that I could try out on the hoof. On this visit I sensed the perspective of a teenager coming in to the centre for the first time: sensing who I was drawn to and where I felt comfortable. I was aware how the environment dictated much of this. The pool & XBox area designated a particular territory generally occupied by boys, while the kitchen and bar seemed fairly neutral aside from Chriss (the trainee youth worker) claim on it. The empty space at the other end was generally unoccupied, unless someone wanted to watch a video on the smart-screen. After I had time to absorb and reflect on the evenings activities I realised that what agitated me, what was obvious and staring me in the face was what I must address. The environment: how it shapes and creates us and how we can manipulate and change it. I had spoken to Mark during the evening and he seemed very positive and helpful. I shared my concerns about have a clear space with less distractions for more focussed work and he quickly suggested offering the session 1 hour before the doors opened. Inspired by one of the young peoples quick poems that evening Random I entitled the sessions: The Random Hour and made a poster featuring two empty speech bubbles. The first hour from 6pm -7pm the centre would open specifically for focussed work. My hope was that this would be followed up in the main session at 7pm, but I really wouldnt know for sure until it happened. My major concerns for this group centred on the worry that nobody would turn up and that the transient nature of the centre would prevent me from developing any quality of trust in my relationships. What I hoped was for the young people to see themselves, each other and their centre differently, to surprise themselves and broaden the horizons so they would feel more confident to try other new things in the future, rather than shut down possibilities

before they had even begun. The majority of the young people attending were from working class backgrounds and perhaps not encouraged to move beyond the expectations of their parents, peers or society. With my own similar background I resonated with this potential limitation and therefore felt strongly about addressing this. The Random Hour. Session 1: Environment At first we explored how we reacted to different areas in the centre: where we were drawn to & felt most comfortable and then where we never ventured or felt uncomfortable. Our reactions were expressed through writing in speech bubbles and drawing facial expressions. We recorded these in photos. Staff also joined in this activity and it continued into the second part of the session, with other young people joining in and taking photos. This also had a natural cross over with the Ready Steady Cook activity that was happening in the kitchen area. The second part of The Random Hour addressed changing the environment and creating installations. Given a designated area of the youth centre each group were asked to decide on a theme, title or word and express this physically in this space in whatever way they wished. They were then permitted to do anything to that space as long as it could be undone and put back to how it was at the start of the regular session at 7pm. One group in the Pool Table & Games area instantly chose Upside Down and proceeded to up-turn every piece of furniture and place things in odd places; bean bags on the pool table, sofas upended, a pool ball meticulously placed up on a high ledge. It was interesting during this process to notice how one of the group felt the need to justify his actions to Mark: Oi Mark... you cant tell us off... coz she said we can do whatever we want... Mitch The irony of this statement is that the space is theirs, the point of Timeout is a space for them to do what they want. The other group took the open space next door and chose Cold as their title. The installation expressed their response and the general feeling of the space, which was largely empty and unused. Chairs were upturned and their legs splayed out in spikes, a large room divider was rubbish bags were left stewn about with signs saying Feed me and Keep out. The UV light was also brought out from the cupboard ( interestingly some of the young people were not aware there were such things in the centre for their use) and it was incorporated to cast a lurid glow. This also tended to attract viewers to interact with their artwork (whether this was intentional or not.) In both groups one person naturally gravitated to leader and both groups set up and took down their installations quickly and efficiently. Afterwards we had a quick feedback session: the one word responses from each group were: Strange & Creative. Shaun the evaluator attended this session and I felt the pressure of his judgement. He spent some of the time talking with Philippa at the table and afterwards made observations on the Chris, other artist present. I didnt completely trust his reading of what we accomplished that evening. He stated that he clearly regarded one sculpture more successful than the other: Upside Down to him was just a messed up room and the fact that they couldnt fully realise their vision (to turn the pool table upside down) depreciated their result. My feeling was that both achieved different results. Maybe Shaun didnt feel that I helped them to realise their learning that evening. If I were to do it again maybe I would address this more clearly. But

with this kind of activity, the learning can be more of a slow burn, participants need time to reflect on their own terms. I also felt that with teenagers in this kind of environment that I needed allow time and space for relationship and trust to develop. Session 2: The Rabbit Suit and Video Camera. The most challenging thing for this second Random Hour was how to create a focus in a space that is continually changing as well as clearly identifying myself as Artist in a way that everyone could understand. I considered creating a room within the space; a creative space. I also thought about using the big glass windows of the centre. In the end I brought out my trusty Rabbit suit and Video camera. On the evening I changed into the suit and appeared before the group of teenage boys that had attended the previous week. I presented the materials we were to work with; the rabbit and the video camera and asked What do you think the rabbit should do? To which the answer came; Go into the town and interview people. The rabbit, camera and the group ventured out into Keynsham and visited various places on the high street. Chris the trainee youth worker was keen to wear the suit. We made another tour with Chris in the suit. He said he felt liberated and really enjoyed himself. After this Claus and many other young people felt able to try the suit on and play as the rabbit, film and take photos. The activity created an interesting focus for the evening and addressed several relevant issues; peer pressure, self image, confidence, play, changing perspectives. It also helped in the forging of my relationships with the young people and staff. Already I felt them coming onside as I managed to create a little stir every week. The second part of the session I was able to engage in many interactions with young people. They realised I wasnt staff or anyone official and maybe were intrigued to discover what an artist was. A conversation with Alisha lead to a video interview. She came up with an idea of filming our interview in an odd place, and came up with the title: Serious Conversations in Strange Places. We finished the session filming an interview together in the disabled toilet, watched by a small audience (who also joined in with interview heckles!). It was immediately obvious that this was an idea that could address all the aims I had in mind with Timeout and produce something that the young people could reflect on and learn from. Shaun had some criticism after this session. I think he may have been surprised by the rabbit and the presence of the video camera may also have made him feel a little redundant, especially as he was finding it difficult to get young people on camera for his evaluation interviews. I felt at this stage more liberated when he wasnt present at sessions and I resented the fact that sometimes his presence took my eye off the ball. I was beginning to wonder about Shauns learning journey in all this. Sessions 3/4: Serious Conversations in Strange Places The last 2 sessions were used to create the short film that was produced with the young people. Serious Conversations in Strange Places is an attempt to give the young people a space or Gap to explore the questions that preoccupy me and that I was asking myself during the residency; Do you ask for advice? What does your heart look like? Do you have a soul? What is work? How would you like to die? Where is home? Weighty matters that require deep enquiry and that reach out for truth. I was looking at Jean-Luc Godards work around this time and was intrigued by the videos he made for TV with Anne-Marie Miville. France/tour/detour/deux/enfants (1977) is a series of interviews with two french school children on the nature of existance. He has said that one of the reasons he made these was in order to understand children better.

I guess in the same way CW wanted to understand how I as an artist thought, I wanted to know how the youth would engage with the interview process. The young people at Timeout desperately wanted to engage, they were also seeking one to one attention. They wanted to be consulted about their lives, their thoughts, feelings and perspectives on the world. These were serious conversations rather than Q&A interviews. In my delivery of the questions I was attempting (not always successfully) to be as neutral as possible, with the least amount of appropriation, reassurance or agreement. My intention was to create a gap for truth to emerge, rather than prompting a clever answer or an answer that might please me as questioner. Throughout this process, all the meetings and evaluation conversations I was in the position that the young people were now occupying, but in this instance I wasnt looking for an answer from them. I had no expectations. In fact the spaces in-between the questions and the answers are for me the most engaging; observing the honest enquiry toward some kind of personal truth. Having had a lot of experience interviewing people on camera this particular role of impartial questioner was quite a challenge Watching the footage back afterwards I noticed the difficulty I had in leaving the gap open for the subject to explore, reflect & unravel. I hear myself rephrasing questions, repeating answers back in agreement, filling the spaces to ease the tension. In the editing I decided at one point to add a layer to the interaction when I felt this was particularly prevalent; adding onscreen text to describe what was actually happening in that moment. He was being watched She was being watched They were both distracted to some degree Watching or at least hearing myself in this role I learnt a lot about how I operate in the artistic engagement. I realised I have a tendency to occupy too much of the space when maybe it would be good to ease off, allow things to breathe and take their natural course. Perhaps this is a way of avoiding unpleasant truths and instead paper over the gaps and play nice which for an artist is not especially useful. A few weeks after the end of the residency I welcomed the chance to return to Timeout with our film for a showing. During the screening it was notable how many of the featured young people either shied away, hid their faces, made some noise or simply left the room when they were on screen. For many this was the first time they had seen themselves on screen. After it was shown many of these people immediately wanted to view the film again. The feedback and reactions to the film reassured me that my aims and intentions were realised to some extent. The young people saw themselves and each other differently. They were surprised by each other. They also reflected that they were keen to do more filming or would be open to other creative projects. Some suggested that they would like to be the questioner. I noticed how common it is for adults (myself included) to make the assumption that all young people are familiar with technology, including cameras, video cameras, internet and computers. Although the equipment may be easily available through schools and youth centres that doesnt necessarily make it accessible. It is particularly easy for working class youth to go under the radar in this and many other instances, often through lack of confidence or a feeling of entitlement. This may express itself as disinterest, but I am reminded when working with teenagers (and from my own experience of being a teenager) how unreliable this perception is; the surface often belies what is really going on.

Chapter 4: Inspirational Art The responsibility of socially engaged art to me is to provide a space and a voice for the voiceless in a contemporary world that feeds on contradictions, privilege and ownership. As I have stated earlier in this essay, I was immediately attracted to working with the Inspirational Art Group, so I paid them a visit one lunchtime during one their regular Friday sessions. Everyone sat around a big table, some eating lunch and others continuing with their art work. I introduced myself and spoke briefly about the residency, then had various informal chats with those I already knew and some new faces. It was a useful meeting to see how the group operated and how they were intending to move forward at this interesting time, where they were starting to organise themselves, take more responsibility and discover their own autonomy. I also discovered their interests and desires regarding their own artwork and the work of the group. The group were keen on the following activities: Using music Drawing moving figures Finding ways to combine their own words with their images Working together as a group on a collaboration Visiting galleries Trying new things Using pastels and other new materials

The group decided they would like to work with me. Around this time I was working at the Bath Artist Studios and suddenly made the link between the two communities that I was connected to. I often do this, but do not have enough motivation or personal investment to take it any further. I put my idea to both parties; to organise a day for the IAG to visit the studios, meet a selection of artists at work , be shown around the current exhibition and participate in a drawing class in the schoolroom. BAS were delighted to connect with other artists in the community and I asked the IA group to respond to my proposal, when I visited them for a second lunchtime with a suggested schedule. Each person was given the space to write or draw their concerns, worries, hopes and expectations on a piece of paper or talk to myself or Heather. I was particularly touched when Sarah, who rarely spoke, handed me a lovely drawing of how she saw the day (in some aspects very accurate to the reality) so I was pleased that I offered the drawing option and reminded of why I make art. For me it is the most direct way to express myself. Everyone has a way of communicating that is preferable or most comfortable. The session following the groups visit to BAS I decided to present a slideshow with music of photos that were taken by Shaun and myself of the day. The images of the participants during the art lesson, standing behind their easels and in the process of drawing, were most powerful. Having this perspective; seeing themselves and each other in this light, as artists, was very uplifting for all of us and at this stage of my engagement set us on a good path for our learning journey. With an open and responsive approach, I attempted to see what was there in the group rather than focus on what I wanted to do. So what was presented was most prominently a tendency to inertia, being stuck in patterns of behavior and thought. As a dancer and yoga teacher I regard the body as an instrument or a tool to experience and express the world, if it becomes

static for too long, energy may deplete and forward movement, growth and learning may become blocked. The need to move became my foremost intention and to challenge the inclination to shy away from action. Exploring movement through visual arts; specifically painting and drawing, as these were the mediums of the IAG, seemed an intriguing direction. We worked with pastels to explore the idea of control: using the left and the right hands and then using both together. We then decided at what point we would change hands; first me calling the shots and then handing over the responsibility to everyone. Next we tried out closing our eyes and finally more freely mark making to music, each person using whatever restrictions they liked when they liked. We discussed afterwards how this felt, why we were doing the exercise, what we learnt and how we could use this exercise and the learning from it in our work and how it related to our lives. I was keen to get bodies moving the following week and started to prepare a framework for the session. Firstly I addressed the room set up. Every week the table would be set up in exactly the same way. Working so much with physical space in my practice I was very sensitive to this. A change would create more movement and perhaps a new perspective at the same time. I was aware that for some people this could be most unsettling and send them further into retreat, but was prepared to take the risk and deal with the outcome. The group was split and while one group moved in pairs in a mirroring exercise to music the other half responded with a paintbrush in each hand, standing at a long table covered with a single long piece of paper. We then swapped over and then talked about the experience, how it felt, what was easy or challenging and whether they would like do it again and if so would they change or adapt it. The ease of movement and expression from individuals who I had experienced as mainly sedentary, was truly inspiring. I realised that when I follow an instinct (even if it seems to have a lot of resistance) and keep going with it, it will pay off in the end. I was also aware of the delicacy of their maneuvering. I started to think about how much I should push my ideas and how much to ease off. It is amazing to me now as I write this so many months later how synchronistic this process was and how with growing trust in the approach, theme and direction everything evolved so perfectly. I realise also that in this session another of our aims was being tested; working together as a group and collaborating on a single artwork. Which evokes the big question: Who is the author of the work? The heart became a motif with this group and throughout the residency also provided inspiration for me. I was often playing with the question of whether to follow head or heart and what that actually means. I would also ask myself how my heart felt and draw, write or visualise what that was: wind blowing through it full to bursting bag of tears heavy sodden lumpen clay This need to connect with the heart and to each other felt very present in my sessions with IAG. More than anything they wanted to give, share and support each other. There was a strong bond of love and trust in the group. With this in mind and with my desire to continue the movement and flow the group had responded so powerfully to, I set a challenge that I felt they couldnt resist. We set up the table in a horseshoe shape and I started the group up with their task: to write and paint words that express how you feel about the group, the challenge

would take place simultaneously and was put to the group: for at least two people to be moving (as in the pair mirror exercise) at any one time, continually for an hour. If this was achieved I agreed to pay comic relief (which was happening that day) 50p a minute. Appealing to their charitable nature was one aspect, but also feeling that they were connected with a national event, a part of something bigger was a significant factor. The session was exuberant, expressive and celebratory. There was a real joy and connection between us as we moved as a group playing an unstructured version of follow my leader. Experiencing how each person interpreted the others movement and through this gained a deeper understanding and empathy made me very grateful to be part of it. The last session with the IAG was to amalgamate our journey. We had talked about what the IAG believed in, its purpose and direction. The group wanted to establish themselves, express who they were to the outside world and work together to sustain this ethos. We began the session by watching their movement from the previous week on video projector. We all enjoyed the spectacle and appreciated how well everyone moved. Some people were surprised at themselves and each other and there was a general consensus to repeat the event as a charitable fundraiser at a later date. I had proposed the idea to create our own art manifesto in the form of collage, using the words and images we had created over the previous weeks. I showed some examples of images and we discussed how we would go about this. I was particularly keen to be quite hands off this session, using only a light touch here and there. Getting going took some time and there was a point where I really thought it would fall apart, that nobody would feel able to take the initiative to make any decisions. I realised what we had planned to do had so many challenges in it. To create a big collage, a single artwork would mean merging our paintings and drawings as one cohesive work, in order to do this there would be lots of cutting, overlapping, negotiation and decision making. Potentially a very provocative landscape to be traversing. Holding back eventually paid off as tables were set up and moved and rearranged and gradually actions were politely being taken. Once individuals found their individual roles and a shape began to emerge, the momentum grew and a rhythm fell into place. Music was being played throughout and at some points spontaneous dancing broke out. We even managed to fit in the shared lunch that was my suggestion at the outset of the residency. The core message of the manifesto was evident and true and still resonates with me today.

Overcoming Obstacles and Moving Forwards with Confidence

Chapter 5: Co|Create Event The residency culminated with a Co-create event in Bath on March 31st. During the organisation and planning for this, there was a certain amount of confusion, shifting of responsibilities and misunderstanding. Most of this was due to the pressure of time. The whole residency we realised had been quite squashed as time proceeded. In part this was down to timing itself. The timeframe I was working within was quite fraught with change, as many organisations waited for possible cuts and job losses. Also the goalposts for when the residency had to be finished up by shifted and were not always clear. I decided I wanted to take on the overall responsibility for the shape and content of the day. I thought it was important to accurately express the journey I had been on, as well as representing everyone else involved in an appropriate manner. An important part would be the practical experiential element and for delegates to actively engage with on their own journey for the day. This was an event for passive spectators. Every part of the Co-create day would reflect the previous 5 months of my life as Artist in Residence and the most critical point would be that it painted an honest portrait. As Shaun Naidoo my evaluator expressed quite clearly: This day is about Marina holding her self to account. So the majority of the day I was hosting a conference for the first time in my life.My approach to this was the same as the engagement in the residency. In my speeches I was self reflexive and expressed myself openly, responding to the situation the people in the room. In this way it is like a performance, but without the thin veil or the mask of character or role. On this day my role was more me than it had ever been. On this day every group and part of the residency was represented. I was so pleased that all the participating groups had made the effort to be there and experience in some way the whole that they were part of. I realised that the only thing I didnt achieve that I set out to do at the start of the process had in some small part happened. I had intended to connect the groups during the engagement, maybe exchanging ideas or meeting to share work. The theme of intervention and restraint was central to the day. The part of the day that was specifically about the artist was entitled; The Artists Dilemma: Intervention or Restraint? Looking back over and revising my learning journey during the residency and indeed in the months since it ended, I am still drawn to this impression. The push and the pull, the give and the take, the action and inertia, aggression and passivity. These exist constantly and they are tangibly the material of the artist. How much to intervene? How much to hold back? This precarious balance is where we create, where life is, the gap, the space to breathe. I am so much aware of this delicate line now because of the residency and I continue to walk it, moving forward with confidence. Shaun closed his evaluation on the day with a powerful phrase and one that resonates strongly with me and my practice. In his evaluation of me he stated that he had learnt something from my practice over the course of the residency. And I guess that it is at this certain point that our learning journeys converge: the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward

Chapter 6: Learning and Outcomes (Conclusion) At the point the residency began in November 2010, I was aware that I needed nurturing as an artist. I began looking outside of myself, challenging my self-sufficient nature. I was drawn to to make connections, engage in collaborative work and stretch beyond the confines of my own expectations, background and environment. At this time I was searching for reassurance and recognition, but sometimes what you want isnt necessarily what you need. Here was an opportunity for challenge and provocation, to expose myself once again to the glare of judgement and criticism. The difference on this occasion was that I wasnt an independent artist. The framework of the residency provided the support and validation that allowed me to access my own vulnerability and truth, to hold myself, my practice and beliefs to question. The residency, evaluation, engagement and mentoring put me in constant relationship with others and presented a space and time to reflect and really explore my practice. I recovered much of my own truth, which as time goes on (and especially through the process of writing this essay) becomes more deeply embedded. The residency was also a Gap for me, time and space to work, be engaged with others, a place to be recognised and held to account and a test of my resilience and experience. I dont feel I can hide in the shadows any longer as I believe that I have a voice and my voice gets clearer each day. Kate: Finding yourself lose yourself. I didnt know myself, I didnt recognise myself. I am no longer hiding away in the dark. I am coming into the light

During the residency I engaged in the following training, workshops & events: Mental health Awareness training. Professional video camera and sound operation. Editing with Final Cut Pro. Live Art Workshop at Arnolfini, Bristol. Screen Dance Symposium, Brighton University.

Projects and new directions since the residency: Delivered a lecture about the residency and my work: Bath Artists Studios (26th May) Created an ongoing open collaborative art project: Out into this World. Created a new website: When did you stop playing? Planned collaboration with Sue Larner from BAS. Screen dance collaboration with Jessica Selliti. Currently working with sculptor Doug Clarke on a collaborative project.

References and web-links Creativity Works Andy Warhol Screen-tests Bobby Baker Jill Carter Socially Engaged Art Naidoo & Associates Action Research Living Theory Bath Artists Studios Marcus Steinweg on Duras the Philosopher European Graduate School: Zizek Jean-Luc Goddard Soft and Hard (1985) video by Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miville France Tour Dtour (1977) video for TV series by Jean-Luc Godard and Anne-Marie Miville Marina Sossi website: