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

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Extract form a conversation with Ian Cooper conducted in the third week of the residency

Daniella - How does the actual experience of the Lake District differ from any ideas about the place you may have had?

Ian - It's quite similar to what I imagined, partially because in the North East of the United States we have a lot of area that's sort of similar, like Vermont or Maine. Where there's a sort of rolling landscape and, there's a connection between the towns but its, you know its sort of an adventure getting to each one. But the big difference I wasn't really prepared for was the landscape. The elevations are so dramatic, because I think for most places in America are relatively flat and especially places that are as pastoral and rural as the lakes. With cows and sheep and everything, are really like flat landscapes. So this seems like a hybrid, it sort of seems that the animals rule the landscape.

D - To what extent do you feel the We Are Seven commune project has been a demonstration of your attempt to construct a sense of your own community and an act of rebellion, or resistance to society? Has any sense of community been affected by the experience of living in the tourist hub of Grasmere?

Ian - Well I think that for one thing, selecting 7 People that are from one area that all know each other, you know at leatt a little bit, you already kinda created this readymade clique of people. I think it would be a different situation if, say, six other people from all over the place had been selected, as there is this pre-described community and that you're sort of plonking down within another community. So there's already like, a sort of strong union of seven and you know the Wordsworth Trust or Grizedale arts have there own situation. So there's less of this kind of integration inherently, it's like a defense mechanism.

I was just in Oxford, which is quite a different town from here, obviously, and I witnessed a tour bus with about, it looked like about 45 Italian or Spanish teenagers, aged around fourteen or fifteen, getting off the bus, and all of them had the same bright red back packs. So there's this sense of unity, its almost like a costume, or a uniform and, they were sort of immediately presumptuously noisy and aggressive and its like pack mentality. Whereas me and Rachel (Foullon) going there, two people navigating quite quietly and observing things. But I think if the seven of us had all gone it would have been quite a louder experience both audio and visual too. We all look a certain way, you know, and collectively it has this sort of Adam's Family effect, right?


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