Let’s Take A Walk – Reflection Blog by Genevieve Rudd
Artist Genevieve Rudd, reflects on her experience as an artist during the period of lockdown, and her learning from her project Let's Take A Walk.
In her blog entry, Genevieve reflects on her experience as an artist during the period of lockdown, and her learning from her project Let’s Take A Walk, as part of MarketPlace’s commissions programme Creative Conversations In Isolation. Read about Genevieve’s project #Let’sTakeAWalk here.
Developing An Idea
‘Doorstep curiosity’ is a phrase I noted down during a Zoom catch-up with Creative Agent Ali and Marketing Officer Alice, a few days after the Let’s Take a Walk workshop. My own nature-informed arts practice took on a new resonance this year. Experiencing nature’s sights, sounds and sensations became essential to my wellbeing. The little things have really captured my attention. Self-seeded plants growing through the cracks in flint walls became a symbol for the resilience to find a way through. It was these experiences that inspired the project.
Let’s Take a Walk didn’t begin as a walk. In fact, for the Creative Conversations in Isolation call-out, whilst the country was under ‘Stay at Home’ orders, I wanted to find inspiration at home by unlocking stories in the objects we live with. I’d been running still-life drawing sessions over Zoom and through this, became curious about arranging and connecting with everyday ‘stuff’.
Creative Agents Ali and Colin, made it clear from the offset that this commission was flexible. They assured me that as the ideas developed, they’d support me to make it happen. It was refreshing to have an open brief and, as the world around us changed, so did the project. Exploring objects indoors became less appealing and spending time outdoors felt like the right way to go.
Before this year, I had never produced any remote sessions. In fact I had dismissed it as a ‘lesser version’ of face-to-face engagement, in which group dynamics feed the process. However as business as usual wasn’t possible, I had to eat my words and be open to adapting…
As the country moved into new measures, spending time outdoors was possible. However on-going restrictions meant families, friends and communities were – and still are – disconnected. One aim of Let’s Take a Walk was to support people to safely experience art and nature in the real world. The groups WalknCraft, based in Mildenhall and the March Can’t Sing Choir came forward as willing guinea pigs!
I hadn’t met the groups before, so I was initially concerned about how I would be received. However Ali and Colin supported the relationship and introduced me by email before the session. As I’m based in Great Yarmouth, I’m less familiar with the areas the groups live. Therefore the group picked their own familiar location to take part in.
At 10:00am on Friday 30th October, I sent the first WhatsApp message. I often feel nervous before the first workshop with a new group and this was no different. My worries soon faded away, as by 10:03am the first photo of a happy smiling participant popped up on my screen, and the rest followed. I spent the next couple of hours dashing between the laptop in my dining room and my garden, sketching along in between posting prompts.
At the end of the day, I collated the photos and videos sent during the session, and shared them during a Zoom reflection session. It was brilliant to see all the outcomes and hear honest feedback about what worked and what was found to be challenging.
For me, the workshop felt like a success because it felt like, well, a workshop! I saw their feet kicking through autumn leaves, listened to the birdsong they heard, and enjoyed seeing drawings in (almost) real time.
These ideas developed with CPP MarketPlace will inform my community arts practice as restrictions continue. Let’s Take a Walk has been a highlight this year as I felt supported to take a risk to develop my practice. The main thing I’ll take away is the importance of being flexible – something Ali and Colin emphasised right at the beginning. Another thing I’ll remember is these wise words from David: kicking through autumn leaves “isn’t a must do – it’s a compulsion!”.