The text and images enclosed
is my attempt to note down many of the different links we have
encountered - we would like to commission you to work with us
to develop this into a lie. We will pay you a fee, to be decided
with you at a later date. We aim to eventually arrange a performance
of the lies, possibly in late summer next year, and publish the
results on the website.
Four artists; Nina (East Anglia), Anna (London), Simon (Dorset),
Karen (Scotland) met during a digital arts workshop in Devon in
November 1997. They have reconvened in The Lake District 2 years
later. They are staying on an artists residency in Grizedale Forest,
which started in December 99 and will continue for two months.
They are leaving Grizedale artists studios to work in Summerhill.
Choosing not to work with nature, or with the forest as a subject
directly. They would rather be at home than in grizedale-art-world.
Also there are mice and flies in the studio, and it's five miles
away from the house and they don't have cars , all except Simon.
One of the other artists here crashed into his car on the first
day. So he disappeared for ten days to fix it.
They started by finding out about local events already happening
- santa's grotto, Nina and Karen were particularly interested
huskies race next weekend
- white wolf dogs and sledges (they went to see them, walked for
2 hours in driving rain , heard them whining and barking, but
never actually saw them except in their transit vans about to
go home) Anna photographed the husky in a steamed up window. Car
Rally weekend after: the Grizedale Stages also a pub quiz
the scout hut fund raising sale. Anna visited but didn't buy anything.
xmas bingo ------(Dave's
mum told them about it, they went, en masse, and won, 6 dozen
eggs and a bag of ginger biscuits)------
Christmas school fair - brown and orange sweater, machine knitted
with tractor pattern, for Anna's nephew Arthur) And buying the
local papers - The Westmoreland
Gazette, the Evening Mail... They found a surface knowledge/intimate
knowledge news & stories as a surface coating artists - visitors
- tourists - in residence. And trying meeting people. Katie
(a recreational ranger)- she has a box in her office saying
'blindfolds' She also has a photo of Dave,
because she has a (highly public) crush on him. (He has a girlfriend
called Abi who has a horse who used to be called Fester, but she
changed the name to Jester, wouldn't you?) There is a poster on
Katie's wall of a startled pine
marten (TV programme about stalking the Tasmanian Tiger
for proof that it's not extinct, using trip-wires and flash photography
of passing animals at night - badgers off the ground in mid stride)
Not unlike the Michael Jackson Thriller dance routine. David -
a forester and rally driver taking part in Grizedale stages rally.
He drives the forwarder harvester
in the forest. Nina's dad (honest Dave) the rally driver, now
pursuing archery in forests.
Because they are visitors they are being put in touch with local
personalities, characters, people with an already public persona,
or public role in the community. The communal definition of somebodys
and nobodys. They all seem to be men, seemingly invisible women.
On arriving in a new place, loss of identity, new identity....
emic and etic ? McEvilley's academic expression for the difference
between people who have never left their valley as opposed to
people who leave (and never return) The director
of Grizedale begins by showing us around, the Adam tour, telling
them stories...... stories about the Lakes, area, dove cottage,
Brantwood house, the previous artists' projects, the fairies, the
man who dressed as animals (Marcus), the man who taped the sounds
of the trees (Calum), Grizedale history of sculpture
making.... the tradition of artists expressing themselves and
expressing nature in the forest.. to who? to nature lovers, walkers.....
stag hunting, the rangers, the killer rangers and the recreational
rangers. A gallery of stuffed deformed animals... who is the audience
here? Who looks at the Art in Grizedale? what is here? Walkers
They talk about collaboration - confusion of roles, everyone wants
to direct this movie... whether to work on separate projects or
as a group.... being together
in one place is an unusual opportunity.. Normally they all live
in different places. How artists are perceived here? The estate
agent, Ralph Spours, who coincidentally
has 3 daughters, told them artists were not to be trusted and
behaved no better than the Emperor and his new clothes....His
example was Welfare State. He said he didn't like their building
Grizedale seems it will become more and more like Banff, a well
known and respected international artists residency programme
in Canada. A friend of Anna's went there this year, called Paul,
and he made a song for an Opera Singer called Stacy using a Kurt
Schwitters poem among other things. Kurt Schwitters lived
in Great Langdale. They went to the cafe in Ambleside, Daisy's
Cafe. He used to go there, and he broke his leg on the front step,
which meant he never took a trip to New York, which meant he never
became a Successful Artist in his lifetime. He worked a lot with
a gardener, and somewhere, the garden still exists.
The situation here, what is a situation? as opposed to a place,
the view of a place picturesque, pictured, packaged, for sale
'the lakes' heritage culture, an area of outstanding natural beauty
Beatrix potter, Wordsworth etc the national park authority Brockhole..
Dave’s Dad Roland knows someone who works in the NPA. They have
the authority here re. planning, housing, listed buildings, stuff
like that definition of local by the council is different from
how the locals see it they say natives, not local, to really define
those born and bred in the area. Dialect.. eg having a fight on
a bridge..... 'chap called nutter' local papers, Adrian Mullen
the Arts editor, Gail at Radio Cumbria, picture of Santa
ringing a bell in Ulverston (It reminded Anna of 'evil Santa'
a tune by Orbital in 1997). How to go about
getting a picture of their art project in the paper? Barrow, the
submarine leaving town, the last of a series of four.... Vengeance.
Lesley was an electrician at Vickers submarine manufacturer in
Barrow. She walked in the door one day, she was doing a placement
at the Grizedale Society, and we talked for a good two hours.
She has been married for 16 years. Has a black labrador. She told
us about the Amateur Dramatics Society - 'The Barrow Amateur Operatic
and Dramatic Society' Main venue in Barrow - Forum 28. Adam mentioned
Irene, in Barrow Public Arts , and there's a million pounds to
be spent there over next few years.... Regeneration of town is
linked to Art. Upstairs at the charity shop (which one?) a nurses
uniform, in the 'am dram box',
a suit for Adam? Cumbria Online, not come-on-line Cumonin - message
board geneology, family trees, ghosts, lost people, emigrated
people (Stuart Russel emigrated to Australia because his partner
had family there) Roa Island, on first tour of Ulverston and Barrow
included two live models in shop window in barrow high street,
a bloke and a woman, looking goose fleshed and underpaid. went
for coffee in Ulverston, flicking thru magazine in cafe, found
advert for elite limousines,
imagine a limousine travelling around the invisible border of
National Park territory Tracing the border. This is an 8 hour
piece of performance art.. They thought about stopping people,
flagging down cars on the border of the National Park... Parking
the Limo by the side of the road.. asking drivers questions about
their knowledge of the National Park. On Saturday they saw a girl
with a silver tinsel hairband on her head, in Barrow. Adam is
looking for a house to live in (as opposed to living in Summerhill)
Going to Ulverston, touring town w. Adam, many charity shops....
One was run by a transvestite. She talked to them about a studded
black belt which was at least 6 feet long. They briefly saw the
Laurel and Hardy museum - finding estate agent window, seeing
Ralph with a Purple Man. He was a giant. Ben,
one of the other artists told Anna that his grandad was a registered
giant at 6 feet 8 inches. In the window were homemade collage-like
presentations of the properties:
a series of interior and exterior photos, arranged on cork board
with additional printout words, like 'reduced!'. Summerhill,
the ex b&b a house converted, swags, flounces, pastel plum and
off green.... over heated, cosy, domestic, typical b&b of the
Lakes; cherubs stuck to walls.
The lakes.. expensive place to live, too expensive for local kids
to buy property near to their parents..... Dave’s brother for
example. It's the same where Anna's mum lives in the south west.....
Adam looking for unusual urban property like a warehouse, or an
isolated rural cottage Roa Island Gate
House They came across a
notice pinned on the door of a castle-like building at very
edge of the sea, ultra romantic in a bleak Barrow sort of a way.
It had a phone number to call. Ian's neighbours in red mini said
he's always away and he's the opera
singer... They rang him, and he rang back. They received calls
from Venice and Paris, a train station in Italy.
There are many plans for Grizedale - Lawson
Park in the forest will be done up, Summerhill will be sold.
From Lawson park you can see the lake of Coniston and the spectacular
hills on the other side. it seems to be just above where John
Ruskin lived and threw his china in the lake. They film the Arts
Council Lottery assessor visiting Grizedale in order to decide
if Lawson Park is a viable venture... They agree to take on the
task of selling Summerhill House . They will set up an
estate agency of their own, on the internet..They will photograph
the bedrooms etc. The Selling Of Summerhill will be an art work.
It's a bit of a story, like throwing the china in the lake.....
The Border of the Lake District.. an invisible boundary between
beautiful and not beautiful enough. The greatest liar and the
biggest liar; Two Cumbrian competitions,
one is bigger than the other, more commercialised, the other is
more local.... and geographically placed Santon Bridge, near Wastwater
not far from the towns of Whitehaven, Cockermouth, Workington
seaside towns, not seaside resorts, no icecreams or promenade?
They are, like Barrow, outside the National Park Boundary, they
have not been appropriated for their beauty.... House prices always
seem to mirror the values of society. The issue of Second Homes.
It seems that nature was conceived for people to escape into,
to get away from the work, the city, the factory etc.... Nature
is an idyll. Ask a farmer is nature an idyll?
Anna is missing the bright lights and transport facilities of
home. They went to support David in the Grizedale Stages Rally...
In a month of the worst weather some of the artists have ever
seen, i.e. rain every day bar 3, it began to snow heavily at 7
a.m. The first snow moment.
Dave was out of the race unfortunately quickly.. They have decided
to become his fans and
to help him with his career. Simon is particularly good at marketing.
He managed to persuade several people about the existence of a
mediaeval scratch card a couple of years ago. They will try and
raise 10 k worth of sponsorship, to redesign the car and put it
in an exhibition. They photographed him with his Ford
Sierra Cosworth in the forest by a waterfall at night. Started
to make a web
site for him. Made a list of sponsors... incl. Diesel jeans,
Timberland clothing and Adobe Computer Software. They have put
an image of him, looking quite heroic, on the new billboard in
the middle of Grizedale forest. It snowed throughout the installation
and will be photographed for the Telegraph. On Friday (Limoday)
they picked up Santa at the Hipping Hall Hotel in Cowan Bridge..
they drove to the Ingleton Middle School by mistake, and were
mobbed by school children for a few minutes. Santa wore jute boots
and had no presents. His wife gave the artists jordans crunchy
bars for elevensies. He told a tale of going for the Santa job
and being told he was too slim, and saying well he'd lost the
weight in order to get down the modern chimneys.... ho, ho, ho.
They then drove to Barrow, to Roa Island to meet Bob,
and see the gatehouse which used to be a chapel.... 'the girls
over there in the big house were christened in here'
As they were driving over the causeway they saw lots of people,
lots of people and cars and police... strange.. every other time
they'd been in Roa Island it had been deserted.. They had happened
to see the last Trident Submarine
leaving town ... Anna met a woman, on the train, she told her
about Abbott Hall, being started by a woman, She wish she had
discovered her name, and Beatrix Potter who had been in love with
her publisher, but he hadn't reciprocated and she'd had one book
published in the USA to spite him..... She met some other people
on the train who got on at Preston... They are called Salmon.
Their nephew works at BBC....Anna had a postcard made at Salmon
postcards in Kent last year. In Barrow there's a floating building,
or rather a ship which looks like an office block, apparently
it is empty. They wrote to the King of Piel
Island.... to see if he would be interested in doing a knighting
ceremony... they had met all these 'personalities', Dave, Ian,
Ralph, Santa, Adam... The King of Piel knights people at his discretion,
they have to stay the night.... The artists are still waiting
for a reply .... They went to a school Ingleton Middle School
with Santa waving from the stretch Limo. There was a rainbow
just over Barrow on the 10th December. They met Santa in The Watermill
Inn, he told them that he had just come in from watering his reindeer.
... Once you have had a chance to look over the material please
let me know if you are interested to take this further. I would
want to meet up with you in late January. We hope you have a Merry
Christmas and New Year.