We Are Seven: Artist Commune Project

The We Are Seven Commune Project was a month long artist residency for Seven New York based artists. A collaboration between Grizedale Arts and The Wordsworth Trust, the artists were based in the scenic tourist hub of The Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, Lake District, UK. Artists were Ian Cooper, Daphne Fitzpatrick, Rachel Foullon, K8 Hardy, Adam Putnam, Dana Sherwood, Allison Smith.

Location: Edinburgh

The Embassy is a non-profit making artist-run gallery. The gallery holds a yearly programme of exhibitions and events, hosts video and performance nights at Edinburgh College of Art, and exhibits at off site projects including Zoo Art Fair.
Current Embassy Committee:
Angela Beck
John A. Harrington
Norman James Hogg
Daniella Watson

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Cottaging the Cottages

During the first week of the project I was blown away by the seven's gung ho spirit and determination for the world to spin on their axis. I mean this in a positive sense. Honestly. Whilst others would have been mortified and sunk down to hide beneath their bhajis, I was overcome come by awe, Daphne was the opposite of me. I think I would have sat in the Indian restaurant in Ambleside for at least twenty minutes before quietly seething to myself and my companions when that table we were promised failed to materialize. Daphne made that table come to her. In a very straightforward fashion she asked a small group of people to move from their table so that we the eight of us could sit and order. And they did. With no complaints, at least not to our faces, that would not be very British.

Like a renegade fighting against slow eaters, I thought it would be great to have her around for all informal eating engagements. The last time I tried to complain after a main course took over an hour to arrive in Manchester I got abuse. The waiter said "would you like coffee Sir, sorry, I beg your pardon, Madame." Nice.

The point behind this story is to attempt to emphasize the spirit and determination of the communer's at this point. Could this be maintained in the face of adversity? The problems with Rose Cottage and 1 Sykside over at the Wordsworth Trust would prove a test of their mettle.
Whilst at Summerhill they were in the Grizedale nest and were to a great extent sheltered from the self-sufficiency that beckoned them over in Grasmere. More to the point they were missing out on the more overtly touristic experience of the Lakes, the aspect which was key to Grizedale's tourism Cumbriana Proof project. It was important that the coach loads of visitors, the continuous stream of traffic, RAF fighter planes,and the generic gift shops were all witnessed first had. Perhaps this place is ain't what it used to be.

The physical separation of the seven would ultimately pull apart the group into couples and non-couples, dividing them exactly half way through the project. It is understandable if some tensions were beginning to rise at this point, particularly for the seven. Below you will see the list of which Richard Stanton has called 'demands' written on comment slips from the nice hotel across the road from the Trust.

I must admit, as I assisted the Wordsworth Trust boys Richard and Phil in cleaning Rose Cottage it was well shabby and dirty in parts. I was too scared to sleep in the furthest part of the cottage for fear of my life. My poor boyfriend had to drag the mattress down stairs in the middle of the night whilst Dana and Adam kindled a fire.

Adam, K8 and Dana did a wonderful job of sanitizing whilst at the same time keeping a Romantic feel which its previous occupant Hartley Coleridge would've been pleased with. They made the cottage more cottage-like, in a similar fashion that the Lake District, and its many helpers, makes itself more Lake District-like. I think that they coped well with the lack of hot water and were thankful for the small comfort of a roaring fire which they made daily.


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