A Sense of Home

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New work 2013-14

AHA Creative Producer Jennie Hayes previewed these project at our May 2012 First Friday and some of the discussion that ensued has informed the project.  Below are the preliminary outlines of the project strands: as with all projects, once they get going, things will change – so these are just a starting point.

There are a number of opportunities for artists within these projects, so if you are an artist and think you may be interested, make sure you are signed up to our mailing list or be a Friend on Facebook – better yet, become an Artist Friend.

 

All projects are still very much in development, but this is a flavour of what they may look like:

Residency Projects

HOME FROM HOME explores the environment of the care home, probably focussing on one particular care home, but also extending dialogue and research locally into the sector as a whole.  An artist will be in residence at a rural care home in Devon, and will spend some time living there, working with residents and staff about ‘what is home’ and ‘being at home’.  The project explores issues about what means to ‘make a home’ and looks at some of the issues of being ‘not-at-home’ to make an artwork.  The artists will be appointed through an open call, and we will not know which artform will be involved until we have selected the artist.  The artists will create one major piece or a series of smaller pieces, will blog, and will be accompanied from time to time by an artist-documenter.

Working alongside the creative strand, we will build on the work we have done previously with older people, possibly continuing some of this work into the project (for example, we are currently working with a group of older people and people with dementia to become trained radio producers).  We will also invite our health partners to look at how science defines and understands how the subjectivity of ‘feeling at home’ translates into objective data and whether this kind of existential intangible can be shown to have distinct health benefits.  The artist will be part of this discussion, and may choose to use some of the information within the finished artwork(s).  Home from Home outputs include a series of artworks which will become part of our overall exhibition activity, a publication, and an online presence[1].  Outcomes include a better life enriched by a stronger sense of home and community; increased knowledge about the challenges and joys of relocating to a new, restricted place to live; a better understanding about being looked-after and coming to terms with an increasing lack of personal identity and self-sufficiency.

 

WALKING HOME is a series of walks (8 on Dartmoor and 8 in SE Cornwall[1]) on family farms (the farm as home and a place of deep connection to those who live there) and the land of farm businesses (eg Occombe Farm, the Husbandry School, Riverford Farm, Dartington).  On family farms, the farmer or another family member will lead a shortish walk on their farm(1 hour+) to places of particular meaning to them.  This might be to a barn, to certain fields, a hedgerow, stone wall, to see particular livestock, a specific crop, an old dwelling, etc.   The farmer/family member talks informally about the significance of the place(s) and what links there may be to the farm’s history, or the farm’s future (see our podcast at Flete Estate for an example of the informal nature of this)

On both types of farms there might be discussions of how farm crops originally fed a family, or a larger group of people on an estate, or within a hamlet or were sold at local markets.  Discussions of how animal breeds have changed, and why, and how some farms are returning to native (heritage) breeds, and why.  And, of course, discussions might easily lead to where the farm’s products are sold now –– from their own farm shop or box scheme, at local farmers’ markets, to local/regional butchers, to national and multi-national supermarket chains –– and why this is the system they use.

There will be a series of audio and video podcasts, a documentary-style film of the overall project, and a song cycle reflecting the walks and the people who came on them.



[1]   The former district of Caradon in Cornwall includes the five main towns of Callington, Liskeard, Looe, Saltash and Torpoint.  The traditional occupations within the district included agriculture, fishing & boatbuilding. The mining industry grew in importance through the 19th century, with silver, copper and tin all produced in the area and exported through the port at Looe.

 

HOME BAKED is a project for young mums, infants and toddlers to gather together to share cooking, recipes and childcare, learn skills and participate in community working whilst exploring with an artist what home means to them. The artist will facilitate discussion and record and respond to conversations about home, past present and future. Cooking and recipes are skills that are often handed down through generations, but sometimes they have to be learnt and acquired – a sense of home is sometimes handed down, but often this too has to be learnt and rediscovered.

The project’s primary objective is to create a book and a series of podcasts, containing dialogue, stories and shared recipes, but it also creates a community.

Young rural mums often find it hard to find support networks.  Some villages thrive, and have an active group of mothers and grandparents who can provide adult companionship, shared childcare, and a general support network.  More often, however, villages are simply too small, or they have an aging population with few young families, or they simply have no basic facilities such as a shared playground or a village hall.

We will work with one such village – although some ‘villages’ are merely populations centres that happen to have a name on the map – there is very little there there (to coin Gertrude Stein), most likely Boyton, which straddles the Devon/Cornwall border. The Parish of Boyton – a locality rather than a village – has a population of 378 at last count, with a nursery and a small primary school. There is no shop, playground or village green and the main ‘community’ gathering space is one very old and very small hall.

Using local knowledge, we will create a network of young mums and carers, particularly those living in social/affordable housing, and provide regular opportunities to meet to cook together, share childcare, exchange recipes and discuss a sense of home. The artist will facilitate dialogue and reflections about home and respond to and capture the process to create a book and series of podcasts.  Home Baked outputs include a book, new artwork that will become part of our exhibition activity, and an online presence.  Once a month the group will hold a communal meal and invite members from the community  – a meal and a conversation.  Outcomes include a much greater sense of cohesion for isolated young mums; enriched community and communication between isolated people; methods for overcoming poor infrastructure in rural places; and disseminated knowledge about local food, food traditions, family recipes and histories.

 

 

Commissions

The Commission projects are similar in approach to the Residency projects, but have a shorter, sharper focus.  They include HOME IS WHERE YOU PARK IT in which an artist will work closely with someone (or possibly more) who has chosen to live in a mobile van rather than in a conventional home.  We are not talking here about someone who is a member of a traveller or Romany community, but someone who by circumstance or choice (or often, both) are now living an itinerant life, often isolated and temporary, and usually alone.  There are a surprising number of such individuals in Devon, typically starting this way of life because they could no longer live in the marital or family home.  The cost of buying or renting property in Devon is for all too many unaffordable, and this mode of living is just one choice to overcome that.  Outputs will include new artwork for exhibition, a publication, and an online presence.  Outcomes include increased knowledge and sympathy for those living in these circumstances; better understanding of the joys, fears and challenges of living apart; better understanding of how individuals find solutions to apparently intractable societal problems.

We will also launch a series of responsive commissions: Home Grown is an opportunity for members of the AHA ‘family’ of artists (ie those who have previously worked on an AHA project) to receive limited support for a pet project.  There may be a residency aspect to this (or there may not!).

 

 

Online

The Virtual community project is a strand we are calling TRY THIS AT HOME  It is a low-cost/no-cost flexible online strand and we don’t know yet exactly what it will look and feel like. We will create a virtual home – place where people can gather, share, and exchange images, words, sounds, and objects focussing on a particular area linked to home.  It might be their home, or a friend’s home, or a neighbour’s home.  It might be an ideal home of the future, or a remembered home from the past.  Perhaps your real home is where your friends gather, or your nan’s house, or even your school.  Home isn’t always a friendly place. (You will be able to take part anonymously, but everything will go through a moderator.)

We’ll be proactive in getting people engaged with this project: it won’t just be a website that sits alone and unloved.  We will go out and talk to people, gathering vox pop interviews on the street, in the public square or village green, at festivals and special events – anywhere people gather.

Sometimes a place becomes home for a day, or for a few days, or a fortnight’s holiday.  We’ll get people to send us words and images (they used to be called ‘postcards’) about these homes-from-home. Your tent is surrounded by thousands of other people in a muddy field in Somerset, or upstate New York, or well… just about any large gathering – why does it feel like a place of respite, like a home?

 

 

Artist Development

The Artist Development strand sits alongside all of this creative activity, and should be seen in the context of AHA’s historical commitment to developing and nurturing artists.  It is a strand of work that will continue beyond the time period of A Sense of Home, although it is also embedded within it.  It has four elements:

Fresh Air happens each year, and is a project for 15 young people aged 11-14, stimulating their word-ly imagination to create what might loosely be described as a ‘radio drama’ (although rules are few, and it may not end up sounding much like a conventional radio play).  The inspiration is the Dartington Hall Estate, which ranges from highly manicured lawns to river’s edge, to fields and woodland, to hushed medieval buildings.  We will work over four Saturdays in October and then the week of half-term at the end of October, with a lead artist/writer (tbd), a script editor (Shelley Castle), and a radio producer (Tony Walker).  The project will be overseen by a Creative Producer from AHA.  What stories – real or imagined – can this place and this landscape tell to these young people?

Headlong is a residential intensive workshop for 12 exceptionally talented young artists (loosely, six in one ‘discipline’ such as writing, and six from another, such as sound or installation), with a follow-on supported residency and commission for two of the artists.  We ask participants to rush headlong into the next stage of their blossoming creative careers.  The workshop will take place at our based on the Dartington Hall Estate, and will require residency.  Two artists will work as mentors, leaders, inspirers, and guides to help participants engage with the place (at large) and create some new work which may or may not be collaborative.  We will invite industry ‘experts’ to come and review the work and provide an individual mentoring session for each participant.

Events for artistsincluding a series of monthly DIY lunches, open critique sessions, invited critique sessions, screenings, showings of work in progress, walks and other social events, etc.  We will also develop events for AHA Artist Friends to meet with other professionals, organisations, and agencies.



[1]  We’re using the somewhat cryptic phrase ‘online presence’ because we don’t want to set in stone just what form this might take – it needs to be led by the project artist and the people they are working with.  It is likely to include a blog, diary and documentation, sharing of finished work, and links into the larger project website and the AHA website.

 

 

 

 

Aune Head Arts

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Aune Head Arts is now closed. This website is being maintained as an archive site only. We'd like to say a big big thank you to everyone who was part of our work since 1997.

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