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, July 09, 2006

Dana Sherwood's Dove cottage presentation.
Breaking out of the confines of the Wordsworth Trust Rotunda Dana decided to host her event within the wonderful spooky surrounding s of Dove Cottage. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived here for eight and a half years from 1799-1808. The cottage is Grade 1 listed and is a remarkable tourist attraction, with over 70,000 visitor's passing through each year. On this particular evening in August as the photographs show the cramped conditions helped to foster the charged atmosphere. Rather than conducting a talk about her own work Dana invited Robert Williams a local artist and Fine Arts leader of Cumbria Institue of Art and Design to stage an event.

Dana- I thought that this was a really good opportunity that instead of talking about my own work, for me I was interested to learn something different. I had been hearing a lot about Robert Williams for the past couple of years, about his work and interest in the supernatural, taxonomy and natural history. All these subject are very intriguing to me, and so since he is also from the area I invited him to come and talk at my talk.

Robert- What was in my mind when Dana asked me to do this event was that given the relationship that this building has to a writer, to the literary tradition and given the idea that Romanticism had this relationship to the supernatural I though that I would bring a performance that I first did in 2003. A performance that has to have a literary relationship. So what I have to present to you is an event of several parts.

(Several members of the seven can be seen reading from the scripts that Robert has given them as part of the performance. They are in fact re-enacting a seance, which is a strange similarity to their re-enactment of a commune)

Robert- The first part (of the performance) is lots of different transcriptions of exactly the same information, the same material. The original was written in the early years of the twentieth century by a British academic, M.R. James. He is very famous within British popular literature for writing the scariest ghost stories ever written. What I want you all to do, or the opportunity I am going to give you is the opportunity to interpret and re-interpret this information and to make other things out of it. That's the whole nature of a transcription after all. Working with the same information but we are modifying and changing it and we are moving on...

(Aha, transcriptions, this is what I am working on now, and I guess what I hoped for this blog was to give voice to the many interpretations of the We Are Seven project. Roberts performance closely resembles to me the potential as a group to modify behaviour and interpretation of actions, being willing participants the whole thing is light hearted, enjoyable and does not give the feeling of being manipulated even though that is exactly the case)

Robert is seen below in grey and looking pensive ...A brief outline of the performance...Five volunteers in each group, each reads from a script and each has been given a particular letter of the alphabet to which lines they must read. This is in order to give people a new view of the events which take place and it is essential that each performer holds on to the nature of their particular given character. After the initial group reading each performer is summoned into another room and then reads the entirety of their lines out in full whilst being filmed by Robert...When each performer has fulfilled this voluntary duty the performance is completed.

Robert is seen below wearing grey and looking pensive...are things going to plan? The reasoning behind the event was not explained in advance but everybody appears to be co-operative.
An in depth discussion about the event and spiritualism generally continues long after the performance has finished.

At a certain point in the evening I thought I had seen the ghost of Wordsworth, I was a little scared until I rationalised it down to a simple case of retinal saturation. This apparition just happened to be green.


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