OSE’s ‘relentless’ tide of experiential artist workshops, diverse presentations and mentoring sessions opened me to manifold influences and a host of different perspectives. They pushed me to step beyond my practice of a more didactic environmentally-focused narrative, and explore much more personal, though perhaps nevertheless in some way also universal, concepts and processes. This has given me a new confidence in my own abilities and capacities, along with a better understanding of the sector and how I might effectively find a place within it.
For the final show Gut Feelings I sought to immerse myself and my ‘readers’ in a Choice Tardis, a circle of seven outer doors through which at any time only one allowed entry to a rotating inner chamber populated by objects and statements that embodied some deeply personal choices. The user was invited to either employ chance through the throw of a dice or their thoughtful consideration, to rotate the inner chamber and select a specific exit door marked by one of my statements – but, if they wished, to substitute key words with their own before exiting and thereby perform and viscerally experience both a real and metaphorical moment of transformation. These statements included: I miss the father I wish I had had; Life is good; I should have loved you better; Hence-forth I shall be a different person [a non-opening door!] – and could equally well be related to the past, present or future. Watch out for the twelve-sided Choice Tardis to come!
During her time at OSE, Coral became interested in methods of fictioning in relation to objects and spaces. Her work for Gut Feelings departed from research into the archives of Telford New Town (1968) in the West Midlands, the town she grew up un, reflecting on the New Town’s utopian optimism, monuments, architecture and town planning. Through sculpture, animation, video and writing, the work attempted to navigate the town as a fictional landscape through the rounded reptile-mascot like character Grout. The narrative was particularly attuned to the modernist architecture, public artworks, civic spaces, and bizarre sites that underpin the towns construct. In this way, Coral aimed to create an alternative archive attentive to the holes in her personal narrative of the place and playfully interrogate the flimsiness of New Town optimism: ‘Your New Life, New Opportunity’ as a fiction. Dwelling on absurdity: artificial mounds on roundabouts and a frog clock blowing bubbles in the shopping centre, the work questioned what is functional, foundational, fictional and farcical.
Coral also developed a strand of the public programme in collaboration with Melanie Wheeler called Sleepwalks, exploring the role of fiction in relation to objects, place and the performative. The development of this series allowed her to expand her interest in fictioning through experimenting with writing (Sally O’Reilly and Cally Spooner), animation (1927 studios) as well as her experiments in sculpture.
Coral also helped shape the Despacito programme this year and enjoyed working with the group of young people which enthused the playful and intuitive strand of her own practice.
Rosa Irwin Clark
During the year at Open School East, Rosa pursued interests in the performance of places, people, land and lore. Working with video and sound, Rosa performed live experimental folk sets around Margate and Thanet. Performance highlights include Criss Cross at LIMBO, with Claire Orme and Lou Lou Sainsbury, OSE x LIMBO Residency, Broadstairs Folk Week and a Folk Horror Live Score at Tom Thumb Theatre, organised by Melanie Wheeler. Rosa also contributed to the Open School East radio programme series at Radio Margate. Alongside fellow Associates, Rosa organised workshops, talks and screenings including visits from Fourthland and Winnie Herbstein.
For Gut Feelings, Rosa presented a performative installation titled the house that forgets and the hands who remember. The work was part of a research project aiming to unpack the chronology of agricultural practices and food production through a lens of folklore and performance. Focusing on the Isle of Thanet as a microcosm for the British Isles, the work mapped ways of knowing, archaeology and migration, English folk music and East Kentish traditions. Rosa became involved in ‘hoodening’ a performative tradition specific to Thanet and also worked with a local farmer to understand how Thanet District Council’s ‘Local Plan’ and Brexit may affect communities and livelihoods.
During the project Rosa introduced new threads to their practice; woodwork, set building and instrument making – notably working with lamb’s gut to create natural catgut strings.
During her time at Open School East Katie developed her research into modes of protest and ways of resisting the insidious slipping of ecological and social crisis. She developed her skills in sound-work and began to think about sound and time as tools for accessing hidden knowledges. During the LIMBO residency Katie began to think about the dance floor as a space of resistance and the time-shifting potentials of sound. As part of this, she hosted a ‘cosmological protest rave’ at Cliftonville Lido, a performative event which evoked the history of the Lido raves through sound and movement. For Gut Feelings Katie developed film, sound and performance work that used the fracking site in Lancashire to think about the echo of the ecological crisis and the spreading of environmental toxicity.
For the public programme Katie worked together with Associates Rosa Irwin Clark and Louise Webb to organise the Visionary Futures series which invited artists who make work that questions existing hegemonic structures and addresses hopeful and radical ways of living. This included invited artists Winnie Herbstein, Daniel Oliver, Marsha Bradfield and Fourthland. As part of this Katie began a series of offsite Deep Listening events at Walpole Bay and in collaboration with Associate Lizzy Rose at Crate. These aim to use tools of listening, stillness and being together in the world to provide a collaborative learning experience and safe space to think through sound, addressing things such as ecological thinking and queerness.
Katie also worked with other Associates and staff to shape and facilitate the Despacito Art School programme and was an active part of the Open School East radio show on Radio Margate.
Una Hamilton Helle
Una spent her time at OSE conducting research and developing work around non-human sentience, roleplaying and the imaginative exploration of place. She co-organised the Earthly Delights event strand, which explored ideas around nature through ethnobotany, Amazon cosmologies, Ogham and landscape gardening in the surroundings of Garden Gate Project in Margate. Her work in the end of year show, The Anthro-Cephalopodic Amalgamation Institute, explored interspecies empathy through a guided meditation which took participants through the journey of transforming from human to octopus. The work took the form of an underwater environment which was experienced one person at a time.
Earlier in the year, during her OSE residency at LIMBO, Una explored the links between gaming, mapping and the subterranean by developing a text-based computer game. In it, the player unravelled a narrative set in a post-climate change future by exploring the depths of a cave system through text, images and sound. Towards the end of the year she has been learning how to use 3D-developing software from previous OSE Associate Kris Lock which will enable her to further develop the project into the digital realm.
Expanding on her interest in game design, she co-organised a series of workshops with invited speakers where we learnt how to make tabletop board games, design Escape Rooms and develop VR. This was in addition to leading the Margate LARP sessions with former OSE Associate George Harding. In these sessions the participants had the chance to test out live action role play as a medium for collective interaction and communication.
Outside of OSE Una curated Waking the Witch, her first touring exhibition as part of Legion Projects. The exhibition features sixteen artists whose work touch upon aspects of witchcraft and open up to the possibilities of magical thinking and nature-based thought processes.
Sarah relocated to Margate to join Open School East, where she furthered her research into weaving, looking at ideas around time, space and structural forms. This was explored further in the practical workshop with Yemi Awosile looking at our relationship with cloth and the material world. She also worked with fellow Associates Dipesh Pandya and Antonia Luxem on the Thoughts on Space strand of the public programme, where she devised a workshop with Barby Asante questioning our relationship to space, identity and race.
She also contributed to the 4th OSE radio show at Radio Margate, playing sound clips of power looms, waulking songs and extracts from Sadie Plant’s Zeros + ones. Throughout the year Sarah worked on the Despacito Art School, delivering and organising workshops for the young people of Athelstan Road with fellow Associates.
Moving forward Sarah will be continuing her practice in weaving and is currently researching ideas around social histories and material origins.
Antonia Luxem relocated to Margate when she joined Open School East, where she continued to work mainly with video, sound and painting.
During term 2 and culminating in a residency and exhibition at LIMBO, Margate, she focused on her research into human visual and temporal perception, creating Monkey Brain, a video installation which explores the disconnection between the workings of the inner mind and our external selves.
During term 3, and in preparation for Gut Feelings, the year’s final show, Antonia delved into an area new to her practice – queer art. As a reaction to the invisible and yet prevalent and often violent homophobia within our society, she made a video installation which was an address to the close and homophobic person.
Antonia collaborated with fellow Associates Sarah Karen and Dipesh Pandya on developing Thoughts on Space, a series of talks, workshops and events exploring our perceptions of internal and external space – how we form an identity in space, how we react to space, and how each individual defines space.
Antonia also collaborated with some of the Associates to create Feedback for the Art Licks weekend in London, giving free feedback to any submitted artwork, writing and failed proposals, with the aim to allow everyone access to critical exchange.
Focusing on personal questions around cultural identity, participatory art, social practice and activism, Dipesh Pandya developed multiple projects throughout the year using sound, text, image and performance. Collaborative projects with other Associates included Strong Currents under the mentorship of Marguerite Humeau and two short films Piya (Beloved) and Raju Raja, featured as part of Contemporary Exorcism, a performative audio visual event at Whitstable Biennale 2018.
Research and exploration around these questions led to invitations to participate in a collaborative project as part of the Crate Conversations – Pass It On series of events, producing five new pieces of work including the film Hands Up If You’re Brown. Dipesh was also invited to participate in Now and Then at 101 Social Club as part of Margate Festival 2018 where he made new work in the form of an installation and film A Circle with a Dot, looking at cultural representation and gentrification.
His time during a mini residency at LIMBO was used to test and question ideas, doubts and fears around participatory art and attitudes towards representations of race and cultural identity within the arts. The culmination of this process resulted in a selection of sound and text based installations that overflowed from the project space at LIMBO into the courtyard and nearby shops on the High Street. White Noise 1 & 2, and Shop Talk X, Y and Z were produced as part of “What you doing outside in the sun? You should be inside, you’ll turn dark like me…”
Towards the final term, Dipesh helped to organise Sound Advice, a series of workshops on sound composition with composer and OSE staff member Louis Palfrey while working with fellow Associates Antonia Luxem and Sarah Karen to produce the Thoughts on Space series of events as part of the public program at OSE. Invited artists included Lee Patterson, Barby Asante, Matt Lewis and Yemi Awosile. Interest in creating a Person of Colour (PoC) only space in Margate developed into a PoC only workshop lead by artist Imani Robinson from the Sorryyoufeeluncomfortable collective. Other interests in music and DJ’ing lead to being actively involved in a monthly OSE Radio show with other Associates on Radio Margate.
What is the radius of a song?
Where does memory travel?
How much does it cost?
What is art?
The end of year show allowed Dipesh to push his thinking around participatory art and representation by creating multiple works experienced, displayed and performed mainly outside of OSE. There goes the Neighbourhood, an experiential ‘drive by listening tour’ through the neighbourhood directly around OSE and Hood Musics, a mixtape of music representing the many sociocultural groups living and working in close proximity to OSE. Streets is Watching, an installation of dash cam footage taken during the ‘drive by tours’ was displayed on two mini iPads inside OSE. Let The Record Show, a performance of Outspoken Word + Subliminal Bass was presented everyday during the show in the Car Wash at the corner of Athelstan and Northdown Road. Excerpts in the form of text based posters and interactions were disseminated in various locations in the area. Compiled using material collated through street discussions, The Hood Musics mixtape can be listened to online at:
Dipesh will continue to be based in Margate, participating in residencies locally, nationally and globally. Collaborating with fellow OSE associates and alumni whilst developing personal projects with Indian and south asian artists.
Lizzy Rose came to OSE hoping to expand on her previous work around nostalgia, hidden culture and communities to include new research around disability and illness. Rose spent the year thinking about what is means to be an artist and have a chronic illness and how to create a sustainable practice with a glitchy body.
Over the past year she has been exploring how to use her experience of illness to make work. The video work Sick, blue sea, shown in the final show Gut Feelings in December 2018, was the culmination of several ideas Rose explored throughout her year as an Associate at Open School East. The work follows a fictional narrative spoken by a teenage sperm whale blogging about her chronic nausea.
Rose has experimented with ideas around food and abjection, coming initially from the Strong Currents project, where guests were invited to eat salad fed by Total Parental Nutrition (TPN), prescribed “food” which Rose administers intravenously every day. For Gut Feelings, she sourced a whale secretion flavouring called Ambergris to create edible whale intestines.
Sick, blue sea began life during a collaborative residency at LIMBO in July. Rose wanted to explore the idea of nausea, which she experiences because of her autoimmune condition – Crohns disease. Rose began researching critical thinking around the politics of the body, the relationship between the body and technology and to what extend the body affects politics around identity. The work follows the fictional voiceover of a young sperm whale as she blogs about feeling sick. The work links several of Rose’s key interests: chronic illness communities online and the culture surrounding them, narrative storytelling, and humour.
As part of Open School East’s public programme Rose led a workshop at the Garden Gate Project exploring ikebana and sacred sites using miniature landscape making.
Outside of OSE, Rose is part the programming team at Crate, where she supported the Crate Curatorial Open, this year awarded to QT collective. Rose was also part of Margate Festival with her solo show Arrangement which examined the culture around flower arranging, nature and knowledge-sharing between cultures. Her installation The meaning of the wild, presented a video filmed in The Ohara School of Ikebana in Japan, in a moss-filled room at Crate. In 2018 Rose has also been part of a group of artists reading theory around illness and disability culminating in a residency at Wysing Arts Centre in October. The group thought about how to make your practice sustainable as a disabled artist, how to make work using your experience of illness and building accessibility into artistic practice. The group hosted the event On Cripping at the ICA where group members read texts relating to their practice. Rose read a short essay from her 2014 zine, chronicillness.
In 2019, Rose will spend the majority of the year in hospital but plans to continue working from her hospital bed.
Through the year, Elinor looked at ideas of fiction and stylised tellings. Working with Marguerite Humeau on the first term project, Strong Currents, she explored the formation of legends and worked with Coral Brookes to create a scripted dialogue, blasted though megaphones at Botany Bay, giving voice to a disappointed lifeguard who had watched geological transformations for eons.
She was involved with the fictioning program, inviting practitioners such as Janice Kerbel and co-curated the Earthly Delights symposium which took place at Garden Gate community gardens over two days, looking at the natural world and our urge to both revere and control it.
Throughout the year she continued to develop her own practice, making paintings with glowing imagery in strange and filmic compositions. In these paintings, the figurative focus shifts: gestures are accentuated or obscured and certain elements are emphasised in scenes where overall coherence is disrupted. The paintings configure a weighted, biased gaze, a confused feeling of lurching – the viewer shares this vertigo.
For the final exhibition, Gut Feelings, she collaborated with composer Max Syed Tollan (www.maxsyedtollan.net) to create an antiphonic song. Song of Confusion revelled in the exuberance and idiocy of our human urge to give voice to inanimate things and to make mirrors of ourselves. In this work, a choir of countertenor orchids sing longingly of their metamorphosis.
My year at OSE culminated in a research project investigating the theory and material of bacteria and fermentation. The project examined the microbial world inside of us probing into how bacteria affect our lives and the world around us. I drew upon many of the workshops I attended throughout the year to build an installation displaying fermenting cabbage, a process which cultivates bacteria symbiotic to humans which can be consumed and shared. The installation was coupled with an audio piece accessed through fermentation jars, the piece was based inside the listener’s body and explored the different aspects of bacterial life and how speculative futures can be drawn from them.
During term 2 and 3, I collaborated with fellow associates to programme workshops on fictioning focusing on creative writing and the Game Play curriculum which explored how the world of gaming could help inform an arts practice by incorporating ideas of engagement and participation. These ideas helped inform my residency at LIMBO where I used Unity and Blender to programme and build a playable virtual world.
I also helped organise OSE’s contribution to Art Licks Weekend 2018. Feedback was a microcosmic art exchange, advice centre and archive set in a fictional office space at Croydon Art Store. The project aimed to reimagine the tools of the office to hold an open platform for art discussion, inviting the public to submit work for discussion and to receive feedback.
Louise’s practice is currently centred around communication and the mishaps that come along with it. Her current work investigates “tools of loneliness”; digital devices that are created to assist with communication yet instead create a growing sense of isolation. The use of public transport, the escapism of it and how the “non-space” of transport can be an office space overlaps with this interest. It is fascinating to her that public spheres are meant to be shared, yet are controlled isolated spaces.
Throughout her time at OSE Louise has co-organised multiple events, including a series of workshops exploring areas of nature presented at Garden Gate, workshops based around gaming and fiction. One, in particular, was a workshop with Marsha Bradfield exploring the ethics of work. From this Louise has continued to investigate the work ethics within creative industries and how administration is becoming increasingly involved in art practice. She has been questioning whether it is possible to use common online administration tools such as google drive in a beneficial way to build artist communities and collaborative practice. This was also largely influenced by the Feedback event organised for Art Licks. From this Louise is currently working with members of the incidental unit and will be presenting a workshop in Radmin.
After being inspired by the public programming aspect of the Associate’s programme, Louise is continuing to investigate how accessible learning can be achieved, also exploring how artist communities can be supported. She continues to work with art communities in South East Kent, developing multiple workshops with the so-called public. From being a part of OSE, Louise has been questioning the meaning of “Public” and the want of accessible education.
Melanie Wheeler relocated to Margate to join Open School East and has spent the year pursuing and expanding her interests in alternative forms of curation, events and research based practice. Throughout the year Melanie has worked on a number of projects, through which new methods have been introduced and have become key to her practice, in particular fiction writing, sound and installation. One instance of this was her collaboration with fellow Associate Coral Brookes to organise the series of workshops Sleepwalks, which explored the varied manifestations of fiction as an analytical tool, giving perspective on contemporary society, art practice and visual culture.
These themes intersect with ideas raised in Melanie’s practice and have been further examined through projects during the year including work produced for Guest Projects, Whitstable Biennale and LIMBO. Within these projects attention is recurrently drawn to language, narrative, metaphysics and socially encoded values. For Gut Feelings, Melanie explored diversification of industry, fictional commodities, geological time and slippages in reality by conducting a research project focused on a deep underground science lab in her hometown in North Yorkshire. In this work, she used Dark Matter as a tool to think about a future that is sliding towards us and possible realities that may exist beneath the present.