2019 was the year of my first official residency – at Metal Southend.
The team at Metal Southend are based in the ever-present white house (Chalkwell Hall) that sits within Chalkwell Park.
Working on my Developing Your Creative Practice project, I used the 4 days I spent there to do a practice run of the larger project I am working on: creative research into green spaces – part visual ethnography, part performative actions, part exploration of the mental health benefits gained from interacting with green and blue space. All loosely exploring themes of care and curiosity.
Below are some fragments that came out of my time there.
A text about my relationship with the house which to even think of now stirs something in my chest, some pages of a zine produced, a ‘report’ of the park, some photos including some of a multisensory mindful walk I ran as part of an arts therapy session run via Metal Art School (which is fantastic).
Reading about it.
Looking out from it
Eventually I felt that I had become it
And couldn’t bear to leave it
the sensitive renovations enacted by today’s owners to make the building more energy efficient,
as I lay beneath the round-edged gridded solar panels, before I descend to bed
the delicate, forever wet, grey slate, wall that frames the building from the south:
waste material having been taken from the now exposed gridded roof.
the smell of old plastic cheese sandwiches wrapped in clingfilm, courtesy of the cafe that existed there, that used to pervade the downstairs
that I now reach to smell too
Looking out from my bedroom window that overlooked the grounds,
That overlooks the estuary,
That overlooks the sometimes-lime-green – fields of Kent
My vision framed by benches, framed by effervescent red-yellow-orange sweetgums – liquid ambers – that line the grounds.
And as I look out the sash window onto the park grounds, onto the estuary
My body blurs with the bodies of all the women who’ve ever stood and looked out of this window, looked out onto the grounds-estuary-sometimes-lime-green-fields.
And from the grounds, an anoraked figure with dog – look up to me and in that moment see’s all of the women who’ve looked out this off white sash window
window, park, scene existed
Each evening I fell asleep with the night – the blackness slowly creeping into the house and into me – channeled by the houses many windows
The blinds rolled down and my eyelids did too.
On Saturday’s storm, as I prepared to leave
The wind hurls and pulls the thickets of straw yellow dogs tail silky pampas grass – pivoting from its root
Those sash windows that concealed nothing apart from the cold.
And I was the pampas grass too – being hurled back, left, front –
stirring inside the part of me that had mourned leaving from the moment i came
In it, outside of it, within it
all these layers collapsing in on themselves – into myself.