2019: Associates’ Projects

Rosie Carr

‘The Waste Management Experience’ is a body of work incorporating text, sound and moving image. Throughout the year Rosie researched, read and wrote speculative fiction, and for the OSE final show, she made a domestic science-fiction film, set in an undetermined future time, when we have run out of space. This predicament leads to enforced recycling within the confines of a charity shop in Broadstairs, where Rosie is the manager, and volunteers are made to carry out strange tasks to find new uses for old trash. The film’s images and sound were produced entirely from technology and objects donated to the shop. The film questions current trends in waste management, dispersal, and dumping.

Our waste is a product now. It has been set free – as free flowing waste capital. It floods across borders, into markets, into ecosystems, into fish, into skin, into roots, constantly flowing in and out from here to there, and back again. As it flows, it softly whispers, of an unfathomable relationship between openness and closure. In this world of free flow, it whispers: “I flow freely… people cannot.”

Jemma Cullen

As an artist moving to Margate to participate in the Associates Programme at Open School East, it was very important to think about the impact such big changes are having on a community like this. The filmmaking project with East Kent Mencap was created in an effort to remove some of the barriers to creative participation.

Having learned that the GOLD group at East Kent Mencap hadn’t yet been to any Open School East public events or workshops, Anna Colin (OSE Director) and I met with the group to find out what might be stopping them. The views of the group echoed reservations I have also held about entering ‘art world’ spaces. We learned of social barriers as well as practical concerns about physical accessibility. We realised that challenges faced by those with neurodivergent conditions, poor mental health and learning difficulties would require an approach placing their needs as our top priority.

This wonderful and anarchic film is the result of a 14-week filmmaking course ran in the summer of 2019. Created through a series of improvisation sessions, the group wrote, directed, acted in and designed the main feature. The ‘making of’ was assembled from footage shot by the group during the filmmaking process.

During my time as an associate, my own work has largely been concerned with ‘the return of the repressed’. Using psychoanalytic models to view what’s happening at a global level, viewing the world as the giant connected organism it actually is. I’m particularly interested in John Bowlby’s family systems model, the idea of the ‘exile’ which haunts us until we attend to its needs. Also the idea that all behaviour is communication. I played an exile living in the upside down where infinite possibilities still exist, an apparition caught on surveillance cameras, trying to harness light and sound waves we share to made contact with a lost future, to warn the population to turn back, that the end of the world has already happened.

*taps on the glass from inside television set*

Emily Demetriou

Prior to moving to Margate, Emily mainly worked through her collaborative practice, as part of Panicattack Duo. During her year at OSE, Emily wanted to further her personal practice in performance, sound and fiction, as well as develop her interest and understanding of alternative spaces by observing how an alternative school works and functions. She felt like a sponge for the year, soaking up information and skills that she wouldn’t have if not for everyone else in the group.

Through her work for the final show ‘The Daily Meeting’, Emily began her research into magical realism and fiction as a tool for imagining possible futures; creating bubbles of microcosms as metaphors of the contemporary world. The sculptural installation, sound and performance are versions and sketches of a story. In this story Sol is the Earth, and Sol has many parts with their own names. At the daily meeting, Sol is chairing, Grime is feeling broken but Juniber is holding onto her, Coral and Crystal Frost are weak and Scarlett Blaze restless. The One is in denial and Viral has come out to free them all.

Elouise Farley

One of the most valuable things about this year was being part of an artistic community who all wanted to learn from each other, something that I know now more than ever is so important for me personally. Having spent the years leading up to Open School East working as a carpenter/metalworker fabricating sets and props in theatre, it was challenging to make the shift from the binaries of a script/narrative into my own work and my own ideas. OSE gave me the platform to be able to do this. 

During the year at OSE I was able to organise a 6-week course around learning how to code creatively and make moving sculptures with Margate-based interactive digital artists Genetic Moo and Matt Mapleston. The workshops in this course taught the basics of how to move pixels on a screen, build kinetic prototype art works and make simple moving circuits. It was such an amazing course to be a part of and is something that has fed into my own work.

I spent the year collaborating with fellow OSE Associate Rhona Foster. In our joint bio below it explains briefly the makings of our experimental performance projects, created through our mutual interests and varying skills. We will be continuing to work together after OSE.

For the end of year show I made a sculpture built from 3 cans of expanding foam and 4 Metro newspapers. I saw it as the beginnings of an exploration of female identity and alternate realities, using the human form as a starting point from which to develop otherworldly characters and fictitious scenarios.

After completing Open School East I continue to live in Margate so that I can continue to develop my creative practice and continue learning with my network of peers and the community.

Elouise Farley and Rhona Foster

After meeting at Open School East, we began working collaboratively when we recognised parallels between both of our practices. We were interested in the analogous nature of the disciplines that we worked within; with Elouise working in theatre, set design and carpentry, and Rhona working in film and fine art. Through working together, we wanted to explore and to play with materials, media and object making. We wanted to consider and to learn how our work could function in different contexts.

Combining our mutual love for props, costumes and puppetry, we worked together to develop experimental performance projects. The projects centred around a series of giant-puppet-head characters (and the challenge of their creation). We experimented with characters, narrative, and structure in our performances; concerned with subjects including group identities, online culture, Pop Tarts, crisps and opera singing.

Rhona Foster

I relocated to Margate when I joined Open School East. I wanted to pursue studio-based making projects, as well as engage with projects involving members of the public and the local community. During my time at OSE I worked on two short film projects as well as collaboratively working with my fellow Associate Elouise Farley on sculpture and performance projects.

For the OSE end of year show I presented a short, musical film titled ’Me & My Friends’. The film presents two gangs of absurd, costumed characters: The Metropolitan Vampire Hipsters and The Provincial Bogeymen. A Goodie/Baddie dichotomy is communicated through the film’s two musical numbers. ‘Me & My Friends’ reflects on polarised political identities, the social-media-fuelled ‘Us vs Them’ narrative of British politics and the politicization of everyday culture. Throughout my year, I also really enjoyed assisting with the Despacito Art School, the East Kent Mencap filmmaking project (led by fellow Associate Jemma Cullen) and workshops with the Young Associates.

Laurène Gitton

Laurène left France to join Open School East, where she pursued her interests in sculptural practices, theatre and invisible design. During her time in Margate, she explored ideas of installations that reinterpret cultural phenomena, found objects, the internet, and dreamworlds. She explored the idea of prosthetic and expended bodies as a way to negotiate and address systemic violence to generate poetic alternative realities. Her final show project ‘It’s not a phase, mum’ investigated and questioned the devotion to a symbol of a domesticated animal and the use of its ghostly silhouette as a prosthetic of power and fantasy. For the Public Programme Laurène invited the artist and facilitator Loup to lead a workshop entitled ‘Ecologies of trust (re-membering the dead)’ where participants were invited to share stories about loved ones who have passed away and create ceremonies for them. Laurène worked with other Associates and staff to shape and facilitate the Despacito Art School and took part with fellow Associates in the creation of the performance “Wish you were here” for the 2019 Margate NOW festival. She also participated in the residency ‘Like a gassy big ball or something fluid’ with other OSE Associates at Well Projects.

Holly Hunter

During the year I spent time developing work surrounding mythological, scientific and folkloric understandings of the sea. Margate and the surrounding coastal area’s rich and strange relationship to the water has become entangled with my previous work around ecologies, queerness and deep time.

For the final show I presented an installation called ‘The Sound is Doing Something Different Now’ which drew on research about sub-aquatic noise pollution and the Shoeburyness military testing site to develop a science fiction narrative in which sound pollution is mutating the biosphere in Thanet. The installation included field recordings from the Thames Estuary, a text abstract, a sculptural thing reminiscent of the dolphin lamp posts seen around Margate Harbour, and some sort of mutational slime. An extract of the audio portion of the project can be heard here

I co-organised the ‘Ecologies’ series of the Public Programme and invited the artist Linda Stupart to run a workshop in which we read, talked and swam as a way to travel through time, think through trauma and environmental crisis. 

One of the most rewarding projects that I took part in this year was the filmmaking course led by fellow Associate Jemma Cullen. The course was specifically tailored to adult learners from the GOLD Group at East Kent Mencap and learners of the Margate Adult Education Centre, and was facilitated by a number of Associates. I assisted in running workshops throughout the course and facilitated the two sessions towards the end of the project in which the film was shot. I also edited the film and helped with the magnificent Oscars-style awards ceremony and screening event at Dreamland. I also ran two workshops on art manifestos and zine making with the Young Associates, and helped facilitate sessions with the Despacito Art School. 

Separate from OSE, this year a collaborative project that I am part of called the Multi Species Research Group launched their first publication in which I contributed one text that was mostly about whales (and also about alcoholism), and another text about walking a dog. I edited and produced the publication that featured 20 artists, writers and academics and also organised the launch event in which a number of wonderful humans and other animals performed readings, dances, music and microscopic visuals.

Margate and the communities that exist in it, of which OSE is part of, have had an incredible effect on me and my work and I look forward to future collaborations and schemes with people I have met over this past year.

George McGoldrick

This year I have been making paper mache sculptures of swords in stones, the title of this series is ‘Different Swords for Different Stones’. In total I made 7 different ones.

Annie Nichols

During her year at Open School East, Annie drew on her past experiences and skills from working as a chef in hotels and restaurants, and later as a food stylist and cookery writer. This developed into research on the global effect of colonialism and the inequality of cheap food production, trade and distribution, investigating historical, and traditional formation of hierarchy in social class structures.

For the Public Programme, Annie invited Darren McGarvey (aka Loki the Scottish Rapper) to lead a public forum on social cohesion. The forum was an opportunity for the local community to get together and have a conversation about the future and what we may be able to achieve to make positive change. 

For many years Annie has aspired to open a community café so that she can use food as a tool to bring people together, specifically the new wave of people moving to Margate and the community that is already here. With initial funding and support from OSE, Annie opened the Hot Meals Now Canteen at the Margate Adult Education Centre. OSE also funded a series of cooking workshops and events for Annie to test her recipes with local community groups and organisations such as United Mothers, Beyond the Page, Artsedex, Seaside Dementia Choir, Bags of Taste, The Garden Gate Project and GOLD East Kent Mencap, and OSE’s Despacito Art School and Young Associates Programme.

For the Microworld OSE open day, Annie used skills learned from the creative coding course with Genetic Moo and Matt Maplestone to combine folded linen napkins with self-built Arduino micro-controllers, in order to create the installation ‘Trattato delle piegature (It’s a lot, it’s a lot, it’s a lot, like life)’.

For the final show Annie developed the live cooking performance/sound installation ‘The beauty of the fold (he yes’s you to death)’, consisting of folded linen napkins, dead lemons, and live, amplified banana flambé preparation. This performance brought together all of the separate strands of Annie’s work, and she found that in the end her art practice, her community work, and her cooking skills became one.

Harilay Rabenjamina

Presented at the end of the year show, ‘The Daily Blue’ is an 18 minute non-narrative film, which wanders through several living rooms with a fireplace, in which a body happens to either read or watch the news, or dance. Between images of dogs — real or photographed — and bourgeois interiors, unfolds a reflection on belonging and alienation through domesticity, and a sense of submissiveness of the body to modern/bourgeois comfort.

Bryony Rose

Throughout the year I examined the many ways humans have “backgrounded” nature through the stylisation of plant forms into decorative motifs. In particular the process of simplification and abstraction involved in the moving away from fidelity to the physical plants themselves and towards a more graphic representation of them. Furthermore I thought about the ways this manipulation has been used in our everyday art and architecture, ultimately to show control and power over the ‘outside’ world. 

I was involved in organising the 6-week short course ‘Sculpting Land’ – which looked at how to find and process raw clay material, simple hand building techniques, and finished with a Raku kiln firing. We invited Rosanna Martin to discuss the Brickfields project in Cornwall, Jonathan Taylor from the British Museum to present the central role clay played in the development of the written language in ancient Mesopotamia, Clayspace Studios led a series of practical making sessions followed by a Raku firing, and we finished the course with a walk along Margate seafront followed by a lunch with Luke from WildFoodFolk. 

These sessions, as well as others outside of the short course, helped me to consider how our relationship to a ‘natural’ world has been shaped by people (business executives, soldiers, engineers) who have seen nature as a resource to be tamed, managed and exploited. Alongside this is our relationship to nature as something to be sought out, and, through tourism, marvelled and enjoyed. This has brought into question my own relationship to clay and how it is extracted from the ground through industrial processes. Even the small scale ‘wild’ clay collecting I have done brings up questions around the ethics of foraging and the hubris of making things on a planet filling up with waste.

Connor Sansby

Connor spent his time at Open School East exploring neurodiversity within the art world, in both audiences and artists. This saw him establish a “making practice” alongside his previous poetry work, a difficult task given his Dyspraxia. During the year, he led an open forum to discuss how the institution of OSE could better work with neurodiverse people, leading to the creation of an internal neurodiversity policy being developed for public programming events. 

Over this time, he began exploring PVC tape as a medium, both for the Microworld OSE open day (where it was used to create a wonky, maddening guideline for visitors) and as part of his final project, transforming a room into a neudivergent space. This room used a woodpecker motif, intended to represent the artist, and saw him embrace chaos and imperfection as a part of the artistic process.

Jules Varnedoe

During their year in Margate, Jules deepened their mycological research, learning lots about the biology, evolution and cultural histories of fungi. They hosted mycologist Rich Wright for a fungal foray around town as part of the Public Programme, and in their own time visited the fungarium at Kew, took part in a microscope identification for fungi course, and taught mushroom cultivation workshops at various festivals.

Jules’ end of year project, ‘Primeval Symbiosis’, researched the symbiotic relationships that fungi have formed with plants and humans across great timescales. With support from OSE they found microscopic remains of 410 million year old fungi living in plant stems, for a video showing the messy backrooms of museum keepers and mycologists, and lichen living by the sea in Herne Bay.  A collection of specimens, both found and made, further explored these old fungal stories.