The ERoC residency

Living in Cornwall can often mean a compromise – economically, socially and geographically. This has given rise to what I feel is a diverse mix of individuals, communities and cultures that I feel is unique to any where I have lived before. This is further expressed in Cornwall’s physical landscape, particularly its coastal stretches, heaths, moors and high ground. Its sense of history is a prominent feature and has been a source of interest for me and has, on a number of occasions, informed directly the development of my practice and its various outcomes.

During the last 4 years my practice has increasingly become involved with audience participation as a way for developing projects. These projects have examined our relationship with natural, historical, sociological and cultural environments and their contexts but also the space between artist and audience. The positive results of theses projects have been due, in part, to the topics that have been discussed and relationship of the work to the audiences who have supported them. How collaborative participation with the audience affects the dynamics of engagement and the development of visual dialogues has emerged as important point of enquiry. It was from this point that a number of works that relate to all 3 regions were formed by examining specific regional contexts during the residency and consisted of 3, 5 day visits to 3 different regions - Kujawsko-Pomorskie Poland, Lapua South Ostrobothnia Finland and Cornwall.

These projects were informed by research, observances and activities relating to the area where the work activity took place. The focus of the topics were investigated from a variety of historical, traditional and contemporary perspectives. To this end I explored potential opportunities with the artists and organisations involved with ERoC residency and the communities from these regions to deliver temporary collaborative outcomes that used audience participation as a main thread between projects to follow a specific and resonant line of enquiry to all 3 regions. It was important that relationships were carefully nurtured to enable a levelling of the field between artist and the community were the work took place. Approaches like this go some way to ensuring that the focus of the work remains relevant to those it is intended for and importantly that the work connects to the audiences and participators in a way that is appropriate to their experiences and sense of locality.

The focus of the campaign is the creation of a year long cultural platform that underlines the importance and vitality of culture to be found in a rural region. It is important that that an inclusive and extensive approach is found and that the widest possible consideration is given to the diverse range of cultural interests and activities across the region. Importantly where it is presented and that it does not become a totally urban centric event is part of that. If it is to capture a true cross section of what culture is in Cornwall then it must be one that is balanced and takes in the perspective of those who live here and are involved in it. This will go some way I hope to ensure that the culture that is showcased through an ERoC platform is a true picture of what happens in Cornwall and that it is interesting for the visitors who come to see it but also has relevance and resonance for the people of Cornwall too.

ERoC in their own words...
The EROC Campaign calls for a new award for rural regions: European Regions of Culture. Just as European Capitals of Culture celebrates urban European living, our goal is to harness rural culture to create a better, more sustainable future for rural, isolated and peripheral regions individually, collectively, and in Europe as a whole.