In the first week of February, the Making Ground project spent an intense week in residence at the Fabrica Gallery in Brighton.
Fabrica is a former church building in the centre of Brighton and now a prominent cultural and creative venue for the arts. The vast internal space made available to us echoed the sense of space we used at the Foundry in Lewes in the Autumn and the scale allowed us to expand our ideas and ways of working.
In the space we set up a row of tables for working and making, surrounded by raised scaffolding boards for placing work we had made during the residency. In other areas of the space collaborative artist Rachel Henson and Neil Manuell set up projections, kinetic moving images, mutoscopes and experimental working; exploring both digital and analogue perspectives on the project.
During the residency we made, played and moved. Working with clay dug from the ground and willow cut from the osier beds and brought to Brighton from the project site in Horam. We also brought other materials and found objects from the site to work with. We worked instinctively together and separately, playing with the materials; unrestricted by any need to make complete or ‘finished’ work, but just absorb ourselves in the process.
Annemarie O’Sullivan and Elaine Bolt were also joined Tom McWalter for the week and on individual days we were joined by volunteers, fellow artists and makers from parallel disciplines, including Helen Carnac and Alice Kettle. The presence of other makers injected a new dynamism to the making, allowing ideas to bounce between us around the table and sparking new conversations about the collaborative journey. Helen Carnac introduced tools and processes normally associated with metal work into the pieces she made – at times hammering rusted found objects; at other times creating delicate ephemeral pieces with the very tips of the willow. Alice Kettle brought an impressive new dimension to the space, making fishing rod type pieces suspended from the high balconies above and descending down to the ground. Her pieces expanded the fine lines of sewn thread into a large scale and connected the materials and the space in exiting ways.
Pieces were made individually and collectively and when they were finished with, were catalogued, labelled, and placed on boards around the room. The progress of the line of objects during the week showed the developing input from ourselves and the from the visiting artists.
On the Thursday evening we gave a talk to an audience of around sixty people, talking about the project, the residency and the process. Project mentor Frances Lord directed the ‘in converstion’ style talk. On the Friday we had an open day allowing the public to view the work and talk to us informally about the experience.
From the week we created an energetic and inventive set of objects which were largely ephemeral, but will continue to inspire us as the project closes and ideas are consolidated into our individual practices.
During the week were were very lucky to have expert photographers capture some of the process and the pieces being made. Below are a selection of further images taken by Alun Callender and by Jo Crowther.