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

This is another short section from the very first meeting, the group are discussing potential directions for the twice weekly meetings to take...

Adam S - so do you think in each meeting a different person will lead the subject?

Adam P - Group meetings each week but one person will come to the table with something. I mean like I say right off the back I would be really interested in hearing more of your (addressing Daphne) stories about your project about you walking down Broadway, I think there is some interesting parallels with the walks through the landscape here and I was talking about with Mark, who is joining us, about his different experiences of the landscape through walking and what you might be looking for. And that is what I think I have understood through watching you constantly videotaping. Its like what is Daphne videotaping? It's a sense that its the way you see things or if you like...if two people have a conversation...Even in the past couple of days I have been thinking like...oh...I had a conversation with K8 about performance. I mean like for me I have a kinda weird idea about performance and landscape...

Daphne - Well I think we already have three fantastic themes, Walking, Performance, and Publications. Other themes? Throw out some other themes that Seven might discuss...Landscape, Romanticism, Craft, The occult, Death...

Adam P - Like the idea about when me and Dana were having the conversation about the time when she scared the shit out of me, coming into the house, I mean bedroom with an epitaph that we saw that day. I don't know...

Daphne - Coincidences...

Adam P - Geometry...

Daphne - OK these are some really good things...I am going to read them again...walking, performance, publications, landscape, romanticism, craft, the occult, death and dying, ghosts, coincidences, geometry.


Daphne - So what you're saying that when you travel you downplay your Americanisms?

Group - Yes

K8 - Well the more you blend in the more you can see...

Rachel - The other thing is that we are specifically artist tourists, we are not regular tourists at all, we are artists and I wouldn't say I feel shame with being an American, but hesitant, sometimes I feel like I am stealing something, taking something

Adam S - Yes, artists are the worst plunderers, but the relationship to England is slightly different isn't it?

K8 - Yes I feel different being in a colonial power

Allison - When I have spent time in France, its similar, when you first get there its like a privilege. Like I can fit in here, I recognize this place, I know these people and then you very quickly find out its an extremely different culture. You become very self-conscious about that and so I am feeling that that is probably operating in this space too. Its even better here too that they are speaking English, what a relief, and I am thinking I can slip into this role.

Rachel - I notice subconsciously that I have this like pass card. To be like that I am an artist and I am doing this thing here. I don't know how anyone is going to react to that, its not like its all access.

Daphne - Thats interesting because I don't feel like that way at all. I mean I definitely plunder. I do it everywhere. Whatever I am taking I am going to theoretically make it into something new that other people will get some kind of pleasure...

Adam P - The feeling of not wanting to intrude, I have that feeling from going from the city to a rural setting. It is actually more aggressive if you to rural England...Look! Here are the city slickers! I am like yeah but you don't know me! It's definitely a self-conscious insular culture, which is also built off tourism. I keep finding myself making connections between the Lake district and Maine because I have a history of going there. They have this sense that if your grandparents were not born there then you are not from there.

Adam - None of you, no one is from somewhere realistically.

Mark - I think its to do with the length of sojourn. Initially you have a sense of space, which is visually appealing, but you don't really understand it and over time this translates into place.

Adam S - For the first time in history in Britain there are more people moving out of the city than are moving in. Its only just happened. Its significant for places outside of London.

Rachel - Are the majority of tourists in the lakes English?

Adam S - I can't pull a survey to mind, but there will be one. It means a lot to the English the Lake District. Its very specific.

Allison - I think this whole idea of escape is really interesting particularly for everyone's work, you know like when is that radical? And when is that reactionary? And I think its is interesting to compare these things. You know like with William Morris who is completely commodified and considered this suburban Englishness yet in his politics was actually pretty radical. His kinda escape was about looking back to a different time a different way of making things, artists working together...its really interesting to work through that. When did it stop being radical? When did it become a tourist attraction?

Dana - We should add exile to the list.

Adam S - When you do escape to somewhere that is kind of a retreat does it lend itself to ordinary experience? One of my issues with the Lake District is its very banal interpretation of place. It should be full of more interesting place. Its very prescriptive of what the countryside should be. It should look like this. Its a complex place it is just not allowed to be.


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