Whilst at OSE, Chloe explored notions of the photographic in relation to the Isle of Thanet, and materials excavated from the landscape. Throughout the year, she researched archaic photographic processes such as fixing with sea salt and developing photographs with oak bark infusions. She also constructed obscure photographic equipment with ceramic slip casting techniques of darkroom apparatus, and further explored casting with photographic objects using materials sourced from the Isle of Thanet. Towards the end of her time at OSE, she undertook research into alchemy’s relationship with photography and ancient pre-photographic technologies. She intends to continue this investigation throughout 2018.
Within her collaborative practice, Chloe helped to shape the anthropocene inspired event strand for the public programme, and collaborated with Sara Trillo on a variety of projects. For ‘The Incomers Project’, Chloe and Sara constructed large-scale sand casts (Psammite) at the Lido Sands, the forms referencing automatic writing produced throughout the project’s previous sessions. These pieces were performativity excavated during ‘The Incomers Tour’. For ‘Spelunking’, Chloe and Sara led an experimental sculpture-making workshop inspired by stalagmites and stalactites. Divided into four sub-chapters, the day involved constructing a variety of cave formations from plaster, dye, found objects and ice, with the workshop culminating in a collaborative installation. For ‘Spelunking’ at Turner Contemporary, Chloe, Sara and Emma Gibson presented ‘The Handling Collection’, a performance which invited members of the public to scrutinise various archaeological and conchological finds, some of which possessed intriguing yet questionable narratives.
George Harding relocated to Margate to join Open School East, where he pursued his interest in folk music and roleplaying games; looking specifically at performative networks found within each and how memory is utilised or adapted through fictive adjuncts and re-fabrication.
Throughout the year George worked on a number of projects, both woven into (Subterranean Worlds, Tool-making for a Precarious Future, Spelunking) and outside of the OSE programme (Synthetic Ecology). For Subterranean Worlds, a 2-day event supported by Margate Festival, George constructed a temporary archive for research gifted by the associates group – presenting a means to engage with contextual material that foregrounded activities throughout the event.
For ‘The Well’, the year’s final group show, George delved into various archives (of his own, his families and others) to relocate a lost history of Douglas Harding; a distant relative and semi-pivotal figure in the initial discovery and subsequent revival of English folk music. Through this project, George introduced new methods of working into his practice including performance and fiction writing.
Moving forward George will be setting up a new project space based in Margate alongside fellow alumni Chloe Ashley, Kris Lock, Lou Lou Sainsbury and Emily Whitebread.
Whilst at OSE Roxman Gatt continued to work mainly with video, sound, painting and performance. After the first term (a curriculum devised by artist Matthew Darbyshire which culminated in a ‘total artwork’), Roxman developed a great interest in sculpture, an element which seemed to have been missing in the body of work.
Throughout the year, Roxman’s research was particularly looking at cars (specifically BMW E30) and the fetishisation of objects and brands in a consumer capitalist society. This research led to a project titled ‘Imhabba bl-addocc’ which entailed a sound piece, two video works as well as a performance which took place in a car park in Malta. The work was exhibited as an installation piece in OSE’s final year show ‘The Well’. Ideas / interests around loneliness and intimacies with inanimate objects, sexuality gender and consumption continue to heavily feature in Roxman’s work.
During term 2 and 3, the artist collaborated on a couple of projects, one of which was the devising of the public programme where alongside three other associates under the group name ‘Me Myself and I’, artists working with performance and sound were invited to talk about their practice as well as give workshops which were all open to the public. Roxman Gatt was also involved with an other project titled ‘Spelunking’ a collaboration with all of the associates, members of the public and artist Benedict Drew.
Emma’s practice explores the uncertain state of reality – during her time at OSE she has continued this line of enquiry by building on previous research into Conchlyomania (shell lunacy) during the Subterranean and Spelunking projects; cleaning, altering and replacing shells on the local beaches. Emma also produced and performed an artist’s ‘talk’ on lie spotting and truth seeking, examining micro-expressions, magic and fake news – dubbed ‘Leaking Joy’. For the Turner Contemporary takeover day she collaborated with fellow associates Chloe Ashley and Sarah Trillo on ‘The Handling Collection’, trolleys of intriguing fake/real/found objects with tall tales to match, testing what we are willing to believe in when presented with ‘facts’.
Her final presentation for ‘The Well’ was based on 12 boxes of undeciphered code found in her Grandad’s house after his death ten years ago. MacGuffin is the first step towards a mystery radio series and accompanying online installation unpacking the emotional impact of an encounter with the unknowable, through interviews with ‘experts’, found ASMR sound and the code itself.
Her next venture will utilise canned laughter.
Jessica Jordan-Wrench used her year at OSE to explore immediacy in live and installation art, both in terms of performer presence and modes of spectatorship within the audience experience. Alongside other associates she organised workshops, talks and screenings which resonated with her practice, including visits from FK Alexander, Rodent DeCay and John Smith.
She aimed to create work which employed and exploited the language of entertainment to engage and – ultimately – disarm a live audience. Karaoke, mirror balls, white noise and glitter curtains featured in performances that cross-pollinated theatre with installation, music and experimental writing.
She also grew a human, who attended OSE alongside her (both in and out of utero).
During his time at OSE Kris Lock continued to develop works in response to a research based practice exploring the different mechanisms and components that underpin sociopolitical geographies in order to speculate on future or alternative relationships to places at the intersections of currency, technology and materialism. Of note was a body of works produced for his first solo show ‘Exegesis for the Modern Detoxer’ which navigated interconnectivities between dead sea mud, wellbeing therapies and the formation of memory.
Kris contributed to the public programme through a series of performative lectures and workshops produced in collaboration with Jo Sweeney. Loosely based around libertarian ideology and the technological underground, the workshops adopted a materialist methodology as way to think about the dark web, cryptography and speculative tools for the future.
Work produced for the final show was influenced both by the public facing workshops he co-authored and by a close proximity to the sea. Research into artificial islands, seasteading and aquapelagos manifested as an assemblage of sculpture, sound and video and has provided a framework for further exploration which will be undertaken at a new project space co-founded in 2018 by OSE associates Chloe Ashley, George Harding, Kris Lock, Lou Lou Sainsbury and Emily Whitebread.
For ‘The Well’, Jo Murray produced ‘Revolution 8’, a film installation incorporating stacked televisions, two sources of audio, a front room inviting the viewer to enter with custard creams, a velvet curtain and a photograph of a house sandwiched between a fir tree and a pineapple tree. The installation is an ode to the fragility of being human. It tells the story of an unnamed seeker who believes that she has found the answer to life through her encounter with the mysterious Ehs. She recounts her attempt to re-establish contact with Ehs and pursue the true path. The piece uses story as a touchstone to human experience and desire and delusion.
During the second term of OSE Jo Murray took part in the Spelunking project led by artist Benedict Drew. The varied workshops, art pieces, and interventions on the study of the underground were all documented and used to create a final collaborative film. Joanna led on the Underground Ceremonies aspect of the project. She devised a performance for the Take-over day at Turner Contemporary, that played homage to the women who performed seances at the Shell Grotto in the 1930s. She led the audience in a seance that attempted to make contact with JMW Turner.
During the Turner Contemporary takeover day, Jo Murray again used the theme of Underground Ceremonies to perform a spirit cabinet – an obviously fraudulent ceremony that became popular in the late 1890s during the rise of Spiritualism.
Lou Lou Sainsbury
During their time at Open School East, Lou Lou Sainsbury explored different forms of text-to-image relationships in the context of queer subjectivities, disarming power and fictive experiences of the body. Using reading groups, writing and found video footage throughout the year, Lou Lou developed collaborative writing and workshops, for example the workshop ‘The Well of Many Worlds’ with George Harding, where participants were invited to explore their own fantastical bodies and the worlds which shaped them.
During the second half of the year, Lou Lou focused on mythology and animal symbology as a tool to disarm systems of power, autocolonisation, self-hunt and systemic violence. Specifically looking at the body of the ‘Chimera’ during their research project ‘Feeling for Chimeras’, Lou Lou used writing and different modes of address to explore the ways images can be unpacked by text and the voice. Lou Lou finished the year with the performative lecture ‘Pre-Chimera Time’, retelling a personal linguistic future-history of the sacred and the visible.
Lou Lou also curated two events of ‘Synthetic Ecology’ across the year in Brighton, with the second iteration in the form of a camping residency and moving image & workshop festival, collaborating with OSE associates Kris Lock, George Harding and Josephine Sweeney. Moving forward Lou Lou will be setting up a project space along with fellow alumni Emily Whitebread, George Harding, Chloe Ashley and Kris Lock, based in Margate.
Over the past year Josephine Sweeney began investigating Manston Airport in Kent (currently inoperative). This site gave specificity to ongoing research around globalisation, logos, memorial architecture and portals. One resulting iteration of the research was ‘A Logo for a Lungfish’ – a stagnant boggy water feature which takes its form from the meridian floor design at the airport.
Josephine took part in ‘The Incomers Project’, led by Sally O’Reilly, a series of writing workshops addressing the question: ‘what happens when we try and tell other people’s stories?’ This developed into ongoing research about scamming, its historic and contemporary significance – as agitation, as destabilisation, as something symptomatic of our confidence / lack of it in one another. ‘How Are You’ – played as part of ‘The Incomers Tour’ – is a sound piece in which a medley of scam emails are reforged into a siren-like song in an attempt to give voice and legitimacy to a mythic scam character.
Along with fellow ‘Hot Mess’ associates, Josephine organised and ran events such as ‘Tool Making for a Precarious Future’, a workshop exploring the application of materials in troublesome ecological times. In collaboration with Kris Lock, Josephine ran a series of workshops exploring the dark web; ‘Virtual Speleology’ took members of the public on a group ‘tor’ of the dark web’s more interesting and radical architecture. As part of the ‘Spelunking’ programme, Kris and Josephine hosted ‘Agitation Jeopardy’ – part cryptocurrency lecture, part sand themed game show, devised as a way to examine the intersections between virtual and physical mining.
Sara Trillo’s research whilst at OSE has been materials led, using the Thanet foreshore and research into its archaeology, geography and mythology as a focus for this investigation. For ‘The Well’, she created ‘The Quest”, a bitumen clad sledge and boxes containing objects positioned in, containing, or formed by immersion in water, along with tools for excavating these constructed from materials found in the ebb and flood. Throughout the year, she has collaborated with fellow associate Chloe Ashley on casting projects and excavation techniques, using ice casting as a focus for a public stalagmite-making collaboration on the ‘Spelunking’ project, and excavating large scale plaster forms designed by Ashley on the Lido sand as a performance during ‘The Incomers’ project. For ‘The Incomers’, Sara Trillo also made a sound piece, ‘The Cave’, constructed from fragments of interviews with a beachcomber. This interest in reformed narratives also manifested itself in ‘The Handling Trolley’, when for OSE ‘Spelunking: Underground Ceremonies’ at Turner Contemporary Sara Trillo, Chloe Ashley and Emma Gibson invited the public to scrutinise their collection of found objects, ascribing each with a mythical story.
Outside of OSE, in 2017 Sara Trillo has studied the documentation of archaeological finds with marine archaeologists excavating the wreck of the Roojswijk on the Goodwin Sands, and spent time in Turkey on a funded trip to study ebru (paper marbling). She will continue to work from Margate as a director and studio holder at Limbo, which provides studios and a project space in Margate’s old town.
During 2017 I collaborated on the ‘Spelunking’ public programme with Emma Gibson to lead a workshop that explored the history of ‘shell-lunatics’: presenting a history of collecting natural vs man-made creations as systems of value. Participants embarked on an alteration process, where every shell found was released back into the wild in a new, even more, collectable form during a closing expedition.
Inspired by the ‘Spelunking’ workshops, and encouraged by my mentors, I began to push my writing practice further, culminating in the performance piece ‘Smooth and Rough’ which was performed several times a day at ‘The Well’ exhibition. The performance was a manifestation of writings about my tongue and my experience of returning to Margate – the town where I grew up. It explored how it feels to try to write a text or create an art work that was born from the same maddening frustration that comes from re-inhabiting a place that is in a state of flux and played a significant part in my early adulthood.
Jacob expanded his research and practice in facilitation and collaborative devising within the public programme, alongside developing new methods of site responsive enquiries while at Open School East. He formed two new works, ‘The Human Forecast’ and ‘The Riparian Owner’ that used writing and audio as a basis to explore speculative futures and glocalisation on streets and waterways in Thanet. This was significantly influenced from taking part in ‘The Incomer’s Project’ led by Sally O’Reilly, which culminated in a night of audio interventions at Cliftonville Lido. He also played a part in the collective formation of workshops and thematic groups within the public programme, such as ‘Based on a True Story, Afloat’ and the William Morris Gallery takeover day. This ran alongside one-off experiments like ‘Tidal Shorts’, a workshop that played with a tension of control and spontaneity in shooting in-camera edited films, as part of ‘Anti-University Now Festival’.
For the ‘Spelunking’ series he worked with the singer Jodie Watson to create a workshop that fused imaginary organ journeys, Qigong and the vocal chords as a way of finding new subterranean relationships and voices. For ‘Spelunking’ at Turner Contemporary he hosted the artificial caves that the public crawled through with earplugs, blindfolds and Go Pro’s as a cavernous portal to anywhere. Throughout the last term at Open School East Jacob assisted to facilitate the Despacito Art School workshops with young people from Athelstan Road and paddled along drainage ditch corridors.